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Saturday, May 16, 2015

New Home Reflections

We moved out of our apartment today. While I'm incredibly thankful to be moved into our first home, Apt 1A will always be special. It was the place we spent our first anniversary, discovered we were expecting our sweet girl, prepared for her arrival, and brought her home in February. It's where the little note on our fridge said "Happy Birthdate Emily" for an entire three months after her birth because we were too busy or too nostalgic to change it. Our plans were exchanged for God's plans and goodness knows now that His were so much better than ours. And now we move forward with His new plans. I'm thankful that His ways are always good, that He's always lavishing love on us in incredible and undeserving ways.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

5 things you should remember about being a mom and 5 things you shouldsay to your mom on Mother's Day.

I'm writing this specifically for you, and I know you'll read every word because you are my greatest support! But I hope it also reminds others why Mother's Day is so important and what should at least be said on this one day. Becoming a mom myself has probably allowed me to recognize some of these, but there are some that I've always known and never recognized you for. 

1. Giving birth was intense. 
You gave birth 3 times! Right now, I'm still recovering from my first pregnancy and can't really imagine going through that again, but we'll see. I probably owe you one more sweet grandchild as difficult of a child as I was. You were induced and gave birth naturally, and the weeks of recovery were far from enjoyable. But in those weeks, you focused least on that and spent hours watching me, in awe of creating life. Yes, you created life.
2. Sleepless nights occurred often. 
Let's not sugarcoat the time after I was born. You faced many sleepless nights so you could wake to feed me and change my diaper. That wasn't the end of sleepless nights either. Growing up, there were plenty of times where you stayed awake when one of us were sick. As teens, I'm sure you stayed awake worrying about where we were, but you also gave us the space for late nights, treating us like adults even though we were a little ways away from earning that title. 
3. Panic happened a few times a year. 
Between the three of us, you had your hands full. I'm sure there were plenty of times when you felt like you were having a mini heart-attack. From asthma attacks and busted baseball lips to skinned knees and common colds, no matter the severity, it set off a panic button on the inside even if you didn't show it. 
4. Patience was your virtue. 
Specifically with me, patience had to be your virtue. Every day was a battle with my attitude, always back-talking and trying to prove my point. I'm sure I kept it interesting, and I'm certain that it took a lot to keep your cool through those days. There were times you lost your cool, like any parent is bound to do, and you'd have to get the courage to apologize. Those times of losing your patience allowed be to realize that we are all human, that we won't always do things perfectly, and that it's important, crucial even, to apologize.  
5. You always put me above yourself. 
Always. I can't think of a time when you put yourself first. I remember one point when Amanda was taking piano lessons, I was in a choir, and Lyle was playing baseball. You took us all over the place and never complained. 

Here are five things I always wrote in cards I made for you. They are simple words that I never explained, maybe because I didn't know how to explain, but you knew exactly what I meant. You took those homemade cards and saved them in a special box, making me feel proud of the crayon drawn flowers and glitter glue stars. 
1. Thank you for always being there. 
In middle school, I struggled with making friends. I cried everyday when I came home after being made fun of often. It was a hard time, as middle school is for just about anyone. You'd come to my room and hug me while I sobbed, encouraging me between pauses, and I'm certain that's why we have such a great relationship. You were always there lifting my spirits and reminding me that I was unique and special. 
2. Thank you for attempting to understand me. 
Let's face it, I've always been headstrong, not afraid to state my opinion. But you always listened, always trying to understand my point of view, and from that I've learned to do the same with others. 
3. Thank you for everything! 
This needs no explanation. Thank you! 
2. You're the best. 
Everyone says it to their own mom, so it's hard to tell who really is the best mom out there, but to me, that person is you. 
3. I love you. 
Even on the days we weren't getting along, I still loved you, and in the grand scheme of things, I'm thankful that you held your own, not letting me getting away with just anything. 

Thank you for being there. Thank you for understanding me. Thank you for everything! You're the best mom in the whole world! I love you. 

Happy Mother's Day, 
Love, your daughter. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Birth Story

On February 3rd before falling to sleep, I prayed that God would allow Emily to arrive without being induced, and that I'd be able to give birth as naturally as possible, if possible. I declared my prayer in faith, knowing that He could do all things, and would do this too. I just didn't expect it to be answered before the night was up!

I woke at 3am to a damp snoogle pillow. Oh man, I didn't make it to the bathroom in time. That was a first. I heard of pregnant moms having bladder trouble, but this was my first encounter. I used the restroom and went back to bed, throwing my snoogle on the floor and trying to snuggle with a flattened pillow. My tummy kept tightening, as though someone were hugging my waist, but the feeling was so faint that I assumed I was overthinking things. They wouldn't let up, so I woke my husband and told him I might be having contractions and that my water might've broken. I walked downstairs, drank a glass of water, and began timing them.

8 minutes.
5 minutes.
7 minutes.
9 minutes.
4 minutes. 
7 minutes.
5 minutes.
4 minutes. 

If I wasn't in labor, my stopwatch thought differently. We called the hospital, telling them that I might be in labor. Might. I find that hilarious now. It's so hard to know what to expect when you're a first time mom. I was convinced that this wasn't the real thing. They told us to come in. I swallowed down some cheerios, orange sherbet, and two glasses of water before we left, knowing they wouldn't allow me to have anything but ice chips. 

I didn't have a birth plan, and was a little worried. We'll go with the flow. Wes knows what I want and if I can't tell them, he will. We made it to the maternity ward where they placed those crazy straps around my stretch-marked tummy. After monitoring, they let us know that this was indeed the day, so with that, we called our parents. 

They asked us what our plans were. 

"Natural, if possible," I quickly answered. Fast forward to 3pm. I was 6 centimeters dilated and certain that I would need an epidural. I wasn't sure how much worse it could get. Wes and I had begun the short quick breaths through those contractions. While I thought I'd need the epidural, I still didn't want it, so I asked for my mom. She had three of us naturally. She will know what to say. 

"I don't think I can do this mom. You're stronger than me." She listened, reminding me that it was okay if I got an epidural, but also reminding me that I could do it naturally too. The nurse came in and asked if I wanted to watch the video on epidurals. I said yes and after watching it, I was certain of what I wanted to do. Mom left the room and I whispered a prayer. You've got to help me through this Lord. There is absolutely no way I can do this without you. I looked up at Wes and told him I didn't want an epidural with complete certainty. 

A few minutes later, a contraction hit, and a verse of scripture that I had learned a very long time ago flooded my mind, bringing me to tears, and speaking truth into the situation. I wish I could remember what it was. I'd love nothing more than to share it with you. I'd love nothing more than to write it in her baby book. However, I don't remember what it was. Hopefully I will remember one of these days. I'm sure I'll know when I see it.

God answered another prayer. He was going to be there and help me through contractions one verse at a time. Each time a contraction hit, I'd breath with Wesley, and when the contraction was almost too hard to handle, I'd quote a verse. It was almost like a game. Let's see how many verses you've memorized over the years. 

Around 8pm, there was little rest between contractions. My hands were squeezed tight and it was all I could do to focus on my husband, who was entirely committed to helping me through this process. I prayed silently for hours. This prayer was certainly nothing fancy, most of my prayers aren't. In fact, most of the prayer consisted of me simply repeating "Oh God, help me" about a thousand times. 

Finally, I couldn't wait any longer, and I told the nurse. She determined that I was ready to push. All of the waiting with contractions had finally come to a halt. I could actually do something beneficial! I'm not sure how it is with an epidural, but the delivery part was the best and most painless part of the whole day. After it was over, I told Wes how easy it was and that I was glad it only lasted a half hour to which he responded, "That was an hour and a half!" 

I saw her, all 8 pounds and 11 ounces of her, head full of hair, and a cry that sounded like a lamb. No, not kidding. No, not just some weird mother/baby bond. Nurses, family, and friends made the comment before I ever said a word about it. 

As the doctor finished up, I watched the nurses clean her and watched Wesley. I've never seen someone so happy before. They finally gave her to him and he brought her over to me. I become speechless at this point, completely unable to describe the joy of meeting our daughter for the first time. I just remember crying and the smiling at the same time, the whole fiber of my being focused on her. It's difficult to explain, but I felt such a closeness to God then. I could imagine Him looking in that hospital room smiling while thinking "I know the plans I have for you." But that's another story for another time. 

Many, many thanks for those of you who went out of your way to offer encouragement or to let me know you were praying for us. We love each and every one of you! 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

23 Things I've Learned Since Becoming A Mom

Its been almost three months since giving birth to my sweet daughter. In that short time span, I have learned more than I have in a lifetime. Below are 23 things I've learned since becoming a mom.

1. Crying is okay.
No really, it's okay! I tell myself this at least 10 times a day. Sometimes I can do everything for her and she's still crying, and I'm just left with holding her. But really, it's okay. She's okay. You're okay. Everything is okay.

2. Blow-out diapers equal healthy baby. Be prepared!
I never ever changed a diaper until I became a mom. Don't judge. This morning, I fed her and as I went to burp her, she blew out the back of her diaper. Then she spit up all over the skirt I was wearing. I didn't have a burp cloth or a diaper nearby because I had taken her upstairs. Luckily the church had size 1 diapers and wipes under the changing table. Thank you Pennsville!

3. Parenthood should be changed to Patiencehood.
I've learned more patience since becoming a mom than I have in my entire life. Parenthood places patience on a whole new level!

4. She's learning, too.
I watch right now as she looks around, jabbing her tiny fists into her mouth, occasionally finding her thumb. I smile at her and she immediately smiles back. I listen to her coo as she waits with expectation for me to acknowledge her again. Yes, she's learning, and I knew she would, just not so quickly.

5. Laughing happens often.
I've laughed more since becoming a mom, and this is perhaps my favorite part of parenthood. Emily's personality comes out each day, and we are always laughing at things she does.

6. Embarrassment will occur.
The first time Emily tooted in church, it was all I could do to hide the shade of red appearing on my cheeks. It was so loud, and I'm pretty sure the entire church heard. That's not the only embarrassing moment, and I'm sure there are many more to come, especially when she starts talking.

7. Listen to advice, but don't attempt all advice.
Some are wives' tales, and some are opinion, but everyone loves to give advice. And I actually don't mind it, because some of it has helped. However, there are other times when I can only listen but silently disagree. For example, Emily doesn't do socks. She kicks them off as soon as they are on her feet. So no, socks aren't going to help her sleep better. Not everyone likes socks. I personally can't sleep with socks on my feet either, while my husband can. I sweetly disagreed out loud on this one, and the woman was surprised that Emily didn't like wearing them. Regardless, I'm thankful for people who state their advice and opinions, as long as they don't stare over you, waiting to see if you put those socks on, and thankfully, she didn't.

8. A piece of your heart lives outside your body.
Without this little girl in my life, a piece of my heart would be gone. As soon as I met her, I knew I'd do just about anything for her.

9. Sleep-deprivation is a thing.
Sure, I've pulled all-nighters to finish papers for school. Not even those times compare to the deprivation of being a mom, especially in the first month. It's gotten much better, although I still yawn several times a day.

10. The first month of breastfeeding is crucial but cruel.
Dear Lactation Consultants, I don't care who you are, the first month of breastfeeding may be painful even if you're doing it right. I honestly considered switching to formula, but I was so set on breastfeeding, just like I was set on giving birth without an epidural. I MUST be crazy! I continued to breastfeed despite the grueling schedule and the pain. If it weren't for that one person who warned how painful and frustrating it would be, I probably would have given up. Thank you! You know who you are.

11. Everything is 10 times more difficult to do.
I'm lucky if I can grab a shower in the morning without her waking up and crying. When leaving the house, it requires a good twenty minutes of planning before we are heading out the door. Writing? I barely have time for that these days; however, when I do write, I have way more to say than I did before.

12. Her smiles are the best!
She has the sweetest little smile in the whole world, and my smiles have become less fake thanks to her.

13. Soaking in scripture is important.
I'll be soaking in scripture until I have granny fingers! (Yes, I have a lame sense of humor. :P) Seriously though, I couldn't make it through the day without spending at least a few minutes reading God's Word along with a devotional.

14. Soaking in a shower is also important.
At least once a week, I take a shower in the evening while my husband watches Emily. It allows me to think, relax, and have a little ME time.

15. You need ME time.
Yes, ME time. It's important. Crucial. I'd be burnt out without it. This might involve taking a long shower, hanging with friends for a couple hours, shopping, or in my case as well, writing. Whatever you enjoy doing, try to find a half hour to 2-hour slot just doing something for your own well-being once or twice a week.

16. Life is way better with a little girl.
Need I say more? Dresses. Headbands. Cute little shoes. I love having a daughter. I'm sure having a little boy has its perks too.

17. "Your life will never be the same."
I already knew this, but the words didn't have much meaning until Emily was born.

18. I am stronger than you thought.
Twenty hours of labor and Emily finally made her grand debut. It wasn't until giving birth that I realized how strong I was. I had never even spent the night in a hospital, so I had no idea what to expect. I also realized how strong-willed I was when I refused the epidural just as I had set out to do. Believe me though, I almost asked for it, and had I gotten it, I still would label myself strong.

19. Carseat+Baby=Muscles.
Who knew? The bigger she gets, the more toned my muscles get. Fine by me.

20. I  respect all parents. Single, young, old, etc.
If you are putting your child first and doing your very best to raise them, you have earned my respect. Do I still think it's best to be married? Yes. Do I still think being a teenage mom isn't the best idea. Yes. However, all of you who are doing this parenting thing on your own or at a young age have my utmost respect.

21. Every baby is unique.
I still hear of parents who go for a car ride to help their baby go to sleep. "They love it." "It's great!" Not for Emily. She cries at the sight of her carseat, and going anywhere can be a hassle when it's just her and I. She clearly is her own individual.

22. Don't say you won't until you cross that road.
I said she wouldn't get a pacifier, but when her foot had to be pricked for blood one too many times in the hospital, and the only thing that comforted her was a pacifier, you bet we gave it to her.

23. Your relationship with your mom changes.
A few hours after giving birth, my parents came into the room. After the commotion was over, I just looked at my mom in complete awe, big crocodile tears threatening to streak down my face. I never understood her love for me, my sister, and my brother until that moment.

I'd love to hear your stories! What have you learned since becoming a mom? What do I have to look forward to? Let me know in the comments section! Thanks for reading. 

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