Dear baby

Dear growing-too-fast-baby,

It’s hard to believe that eight (& a half at this point) weeks ago I was excited and anxious walking into the hospital oh so ready to meet you. It feels like just yesterday and also a hundred years ago. The tiny body I cuddled on my chest has grown so her feet dangle and remind me she’s not so little anymore. The funny floppy newborn had been replaced with a stout little baby. I marvel at the changes even as I try to hang on to the images of those days flying by.

We’ve had a good while to get to know one another now, my girl. We’ve shared something like 400 meals you and I. We’ve been through a whole lot of diapers, of outfit changes, of hours together. We’ve talked, we’ve cried, we’ve cuddled and napped. My arms are accustomed to your weight (even as it seems to increase over night), I know your voice, I’ve studied your face, your hands and feet. I may not always understand what you’re trying to tell me but I do try to remember to tell you I hear you. I see you. 

I notice when other people hold you they are precious about things I’ve learned to relax about. Every little noise, the weight of your head. I know things you like and don’t like, the things you protest more often than not. I have to remind myself sometimes – I know you. I have to remind other people sometimes – I am her Mama. When they think they’re being helpful with advice or wanting to do things for me. I don’t always do that reminding nicely. I feel the sting of insult and doubt in their helpfulness. And later when my stomach is churning because their words sound like you can’t do it and you aren’t good enough I have to remind myself that I’ve been doing this a little while now, and you and me we get through the hard moments just fine. I try to hear those voices that tell me you’re doing a good job instead. God sometimes sends me complete strangers to tell me that when I need it the most. I try really hard not to dismiss those words over the negative ones. I pray I’m always a positive voice for you.

Oh, my sweet love, how I wish you had a Mama that never made mistakes. That could snap her fingers when you want your bottle and it would appear warm and ready instead of those endless few minutes it takes to get it for you. That we never had to wait through long lines at the grocery store to get you home and out of the carseat. I wish I always had an instant magic touch to take away your discomfort. I will wish these things for the rest of your life. To nourish you. To protect you. To comfort you. I will always want to be better for you. That is what being your Mama means to me.

There have been countless moments in these last two months I’ve gotten lost in the ocean of love I feel when I look at you. Countless moments I’m so dang thankful and awed and overcome that you’re mine. You’re growing and changing so fast; I can’t believe how people are created and grow and become themselves. I see these bits of personality in you and I wonder what things are a phase and what things are just who you are. 

Will you always be such a serious baby? You have the most intense gaze and expressive eyebrows. You’re a studier, you don’t just glance around generally, but settle your eyes on people, on things, and really seem to try and figure it all out. When you smirk, smile and babble back at these adults in your life trying to entertain you it’s a little victory for us and I love it. 

Will your anger always be hard to calm? Once you get rolling with the protest cries it takes a bit of work to cool you off. Literally. You turn into a little fireball and I wonder as I work to help you ratchet back down if this is an indicator of how your temper will flare in later years. 

Will all your little idiosyncrasies stick? The liking to sleep on your belly, and throwing your arms up while you do.. The way you rub your head, or flex your toes… Will I see you do these things when you’re ten and twenty and remember back to these days that I studied those movements to better understand your tiny self? 

It’s hard to imagine you going off to school, driving a car, getting a job, dating (don’t mention that to dad). I know one day you’ll do all those things, and I worry over every milestone to come -from crawling to driving and every inch in-between. I hope I’m a good supporter, a champion cheerleader. I pray I don’t let my utter fear and terror of anything ever hurting you hold you back. I see you striving to get that little body of yours to move move the way you want and it makes those years seem like a blink. You’re so close to rolling over and right on its heals will come sitting, scooting, crawling, walking and running. I’m trying to prepare myself to chase you and cheer you even as I miss the baby you’ll leave behind. 

It sounds like a lot for a two month old, all these things you’re on there verge of doing. But I thought each stage of this journey would last forever and you’ve already shown me that every moment is fleeting and we’re not coasting in this life together. On no, kiddo, we’re speeding and I’m just trying to take blurry pictures out the window as these moments fly by.

I lay you down to sleep and can’t wait to hold you again. I’m so excited to see who you become in another month, two, three… It’s a honor this parenting thing God has granted me. Hardest thing I’ve ever done, and most blessed gift I’ve ever received.
Always.

Love, 

Mama

six so fast

Ok, to be fair these first three photos were taken at one month and I feel like she’s grown so much since then!

How’s it happen so dang fast, ya’ll? 

I blinked and my little baby doesn’t seem so little anymore. She weighed in at 8 pounds 7 ounces at her one month well baby and I thought –that can’t be right, she didn’t gain two pounds! Cause in my mind she’s that tiny thing I just brought home from the hospital. Now my arms are telling me she’s not so tiny anymore. It’s bittersweet this growing thing.

Amara has said goodbye to her newborn sleepers and diapers in the last week. Her 0-3 month clothes are pretty big on her for the moment but I’m sure that won’t last long at all. Her schedule has started to change, her new baby sleepiness slowly diminishing. She’s started having lots of awake time between certain feedings, and crying accordingly when she DOES NOT want you to try and put her back to sleep. Entertain me. She says now.


At her well baby appointment the PA asked how tummy time was going and of course we told her AJ loves it. So she layed her down on her back to check her over and Amara throws her legs to the side. Then when the PA rolled her to her belly she relaxed right away and was complimented on knowing what she likes. That’s our girl. We get told about how strong she is very often as well. Already wanting to roll, picking her head up to get comfortable when on her belly. She likes to sleep on her stomach (with adult supervision, obvs) and kicks her legs to at least get herself to her side since she can’t quite get to her belly without help. We sometimes lay her on a pillow next to us and it gives her enough slant to roll over towards us. She grunts and kicks and seems so proud of herself once she gets to us. 

She also pushes off with her legs now, to climb higher on your shoulder or to practice standing in your lap.  She likes to be held out and bounced up and down like she’s jumping. We think it might be time to get her a jumper of some sort soon. When she’s angry she turns into a little soldier, red as a lobster and stiff as a board. She also clings like a spider monkey; she pinches, grabs and pulls things to herself. She likes to terrify us attempting the high dives; throwing herself forward or back like she thinks she can fly if she launches hard enough. She immediately knows the difference between her binki and her bottle and with let you know that’s not the one I want. 

She’s started having times of we don’t know what else to do for you crying. The doctor warned us that would happen. He said we’d try a hundred things and what works one time won’t work another. I’ve heard these phases are called ‘leaps’ and kids go through them periodically. It’s during these struggle times that their brains are changing and learning to process things differently. That when they come out of the inconsolable phase they think a little differently and can do things they couldn’t do before. It’s also happening as her sleep patterns are changing which makes it extra special I think. Sometimes she sleeps a good four hours between feedings, and sometimes she’s awake wanting to look and learn. And then we’ll get several hours of screaming where she can’t seem to decide what she wants. It’s all part of the process I guess and will change again soon enough. The hub’s and I try to just trade off so neither of us gets too worn out and sleep deprived.

As for me… My incision is healed and I’m free to do as I please now. My lower back still aches and twinges, but that happened before pregnancy too and only losing weight and working on those muscles will help that. I have gone on one long walk with Amara in our Moby Wrap and that went pretty well. I’m looking forward to more of that with her and trying to get into a routine where I’m helping myself be a fit Mama. I need to be able to chase this girl soon after all. The numbness in my hand is nearly gone, just a tiny bit lingering in my finger tips. 

All in all we are learning to thrive as a family of three. Not every minute is glorious but I’m trying to appreciate even the difficult ones. This might be our one trip down this road and I want to remember to be present and to be grateful. I wonder what the next six weeks will bring!

Due date reflections

Today is Amara’s due date and I’m trying to imagine what it would be like to have still been pregnant these last three weeks. 
Three weeks!

My little Bean is three weeks old already. 

Impossible. Inconceivable.

I thought I might take a few moments and reflect on a few weeks of new mamahood…

I’ve decided having babies at 37 has it’s own perks and downfalls to having them at 27. My stay-up-late days have been behind me a long time so seeing 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. on the regular is hard on this body. It convinces me to pick my battles both in the dark early hours and all through the day getting back to them. When I spend all morning in the feed, change, coax back to sleep cycle and it’s afternoon before I’ve thought past those three things I don’t give any other plans a second thought. Cluster feeding in the evening the doctor said? Huh. Nope. It can happen any time of day, thanks. If I have managed to pee and grab a bottle of water in that dance it’s going pretty good. A cluster of twenty minute naps is also something to be proud of.

I try to listen to that ‘sleep when the baby is sleeping’ advice. Admittedly often that’s easier said than done. Laundry did wait until I actually ran out of underwear. We consider baking a frozen lasagne a homemade dinner now. I’ve stopped being so self-conscious of my hair. Like second day hair in a pony tail is totally fine for going out without a hat. Pre-baby that would have never happened, I can’t stand feeling like I have dirty hair. 

I think I’m sometimes more relaxed than I thought I’d be, and in turn less relaxed over things I didn’t expect to bother me quite so much. I’m not as careful as I imagine some new mom’s might be with getting her dressed and moving her around. I know she’s sturdier than she looks. I’m not a desperate cry stopper if the cry isn’t escalating. I can listen to her ‘I’m kindof getting hungry and my pants are dirty’ cry long enough to make myself comfortable before tending to her. Phrases like ‘you can be mad about it’, ‘I kiss your angry face’, and ‘I hear you, tell me about it’ are frequently heard around here. The commentary Amara and I have sometimes amuses me a lot. I speak for her when she’s upset and she says things like ‘I can’t do it, Mama, it’s too hard to be a baby today’ and ‘I don’t want to, no thank you’ when I ask her if we can get cleaned up and change her clothes. I’ve noticed I talk to her much more than other people; maybe because I talked to her so much when she was on the inside I don’t find it strange to do it now. Just this morning I explained what happens when we take a bath while she was bright eyed after her breakfast. She’s going to have her first bath today before we go celebrate our third and final Christmas with my in-laws.

I also thought I’d want to hand her off to people when she’s really upset. Like who wants to hold the screaming, scratching, inconsolable baby? Her Mom that’s who. I can’t hardly stand for anyone else to have her in those moments. You can hold her when she’s sleeping but when she’s crying I need her back. Even if I’m not getting her calm very quickly, even if you think you can help… Give the baby back. I was telling a friend it’s like she’s still a part of me in those moments and you are holding my screaming heart. She’s become detachable now, the cord cut, she can leave my physical person, but she’s not quite separate from me yet. That’s especially hard for grandparents to understand I think. They want to confort her too, to meet her needs and help. But honestly even when her daddy is taking care of her in those moments I have to restrain myself from taking her. Sometimes I’m better at it than others. ‘She’s half his’ my brain says, ‘he’s got this’, but my chest is fighting me the whole time. It’s a very strange feeling and one I hadn’t expected. 

I’m also paranoid of things I didn’t expect. Paranoid she’ll stop breathing while riding in her carseat. Or if I’m not in the room with her when she’s sleeping. Or if she’s sleeping in her Rock n’ Play next to the bed and I’m facing the opposite direction. 

Already Amara’s belly button is tucking itself in and she’s fitting better into her newborn sized clothes. These changes get me feeling like she’s growing too fast and I’m minutes from her walking and only days from her yelling at me to get out of her room and slamming the door in my face. I’m trying to live in the moment and cherish every little minute. If I feel like snuggling her while she sleeps over doing the dishes when I could technically put her down for a while I just do it. I’ve only got these moments for a little while. And when she doesn’t want to get put down, when every move away from my person wakes her and sets off crying and I might be tempted to wish it the other way I stop myself. She’ll only want me like this for so long as well; better to be tired, hungry, and unshowered than to take for granted her ‘I need you’ moments. 

What else? 

Her every little thing makes me smile. The way she grabs for the bottle and my fingers. The grunting whine she does when she’s getting burped and knows there’s a big one in there she needs to get out. The grunting cry when she’s working on a big poop. The smile and sigh when she’s fulfilled her task -filled her belly, gotten out the poop/gas, is content. The way her eyebrows scrunch and her big toes flex and point up when she’s concentrating. The fluffy duck butt of her hair. Of course I think I’m a normal mom in believing everything she does is magic and every bit of her being is perfection.

As for myself; my incision site has gone from sore to itchy in these few weeks. The swelling in my feet that got ten times worse than it ever did during the pregnancy has finally started going down. Which made the painful my-feet-are-going-to-pop-like-over-filled-balloons feeling go away. My lower back still gets tight and sore though and I have persistent numbness in my right hand. I think these problems would benefit by going back to the chiropractor which I’ve put off waiting for the large epidural bruise to heal. Despite having a newborn I have more energy than I did in those last several pregnant weeks and am excited/hopeful for that to continually improve.  

Because I’ve had a history with depression and have anxiety all the professional baby people, doctors, consultants, have asked me to be wary of baby blues. They’ve asked Darin to watch me closely in case I start acting strange and withdrawn. I think perhaps given my history it’s a little bit of grace that all my tearful moments have been gratitude induced or straight up sleep deprivation. I wish every mama could feel the overwhelming joy and contentment I have in these days. 

So three weeks has changed my world in so many ways; big and small. I’m learning to breathe through the frustrating ones, seeking amusement in our learning process, and just relish every imperfect glorious moment. These new chapters are becoming my most favorite and truly making my extraordinary ordinary everyday beautiful.

Amara’s Birth Story

It goes like this…

For two+ weeks we had a diagonal breach baby on our hands. (I told her to move or they’d come in and get her and drag her out by her butt if they have to.) A plan was made to try and get her to spin the morning of December 11th and then possibly get on with an induction to bring her into the world. We knew walking into the birth center that we might be ending our pregnancy story with a cesarean but were hopeful to try induction first. We took one last belly photo and then headed upstairs at the hospital to begin the last leg of this journey to parenthood.

I got into a hospital gown and we started our day with an IV and an ultrasound. The doctor started the ultrasound low, thinking she was looking at legs moved upward to find baby’s head. We soon discovered those limbs were actually dangling arms and our little girl had turned herself around. That seemed like a fantastic sign except that she was very high up in my abdomen and not descended or engaged in the pelvis at all. The cervical check was actually difficult because it was high and closed, no baby pushing on it to even begin to prepare for birth. This began a new discussion about how successful an induction could be with the new developments. The doctor’s presented their info, not wanting to sway us if changing the birth plan was a traumatic moment in our story. Ultimately we decided that we’d come in knowing cesarean was on the table and beginning a long difficult induction process when my body gave every indication it would not cooperate seemed a little pointless. Of course, there was also the happy news of we could meet our baby in an hour instead of days. So, rather than put my body through the difficulty of trying to drug it into birth we opted for the cesarean. 

After what felt like a hundred questions and conversations with doctors and anesthesiologists I walked two doors down from the birthing room and into the operating room. I climbed up the table and leaned over a pillow and into my doctor while they placed my epidural. That twenty minutes were undoubtedly the worst of the whole day for me. The epidural started out too far to one side and while they stepped it over and over to try to get it just in the right spot I had crazy shocks of pain down my right side. By the time they accomplished the task I was a shaking crying mess trying to hold in my fear of this very big surgery. 

They did eventually get the epidural in just the right spot and layed me back and tried to help calm me down while they prepped the room so they could call Darin in to be with me. It’s hard to be surrounded with bustling doctors and nurses and be immobile on a table and blind to everything but a big blue drape. It’s hard to feel your legs slowly disappear and feel your body tugged and manipulated by unseen hands. I held Darin’s hand and tried to remember to breathe while the doctors complimented my anatomy (so strange) and the anesthesiologist gave us a bit of a play by play of what was happening. 

It made me feel much better about the way the day was going and really reassured when the doctor said it was good we’d chosen the cesarean because we’d have ended up there anyway. Amara’s umbilical cord was short and thick; it would never have let her exit any other way. It was strange to hear I grew this really great placenta and rope like cord when I had worried so much over the last several months that I was giving my babe all I could. And when they pulled her out and she was held up over the drape I felt completely overcome. Her first cries were like the sound of a mewling kitten and it felt like forever that I waited for them to bring her back to me. Darin went with her and held her tiny hand while they suctioned her nose and mouth, took her footprints, and clamped and trimmed her cord. Once she was swaddled he held her to my face while the doctors worked at stitching me back up. 

He got to carry her to the heating table in the recovery room after the completion of my surgery. Another nose and mouth suction happened here along with her weight (6lbs 14oz) and length (18.5 inches) check. I really didn’t witness those things because my blood pressure had been going a little bit crazy all morning. They’d given me something like six doses of blood pressure lowering meds to regulate it during surgery and put me on magnesium for a day to help it come down afterwards. I was a seizure risk so I got padded bumpers put all over my hospital bed. So while my girl was getting her vitals taken the same was happening to me. 

After we were deemed stable I got to tuck my little love into my hospital gown for some snuggly skin to skin time. 

I have never been more in love than in that moment. Never more thankful. I will stare at this face for endless hours. I will struggle to allow other people to hold her. I will marvel that this perfect body was created within me. All of these things are still true one week later. 

During our four day hospital stay I was asked to limit my visitors as to keep things quiet for me and my blood pressure. Though let me state for the record all the things the hospital did for those first two days were all its own stress. I had vitals taken every hour for the first day and every two hours the second. The babe had hers taken every couple hours and then every four I think. She was not a fan. She also had weight checks, heel sticks for blood draws, pediatrician visits, lactation consultations… Newborns have a very busy schedule! By the third day when she was having her hearing checked and a photographer came on top of all the repatition of the previous days we were both pretty much over being touched and handled. 

We did have some really wonderful family time too though. We had room service and everything we needed to just hold our kiddo and revel in her beauty. 

Amara was actually released to go home a day earlier than I was which was wonderful and encouraging. She did have jaundice and the nurses actually made it seem much worse than it actually was. (Which made us feel anxious about every little thing.) The pediatrician just encouraged us to feed her lots and get her to poop. No need for lights or a trip to NICU. Part of our lactation consultations was not only learning how to help her breast feed, but also learning how to use the breast pump to help my milk come in, and getting donor milk for her to supplement until I can take over production so to speak. We thought even after she was released to go home we’d be making trips back to the hospital to have her checked, but the pediatrician assured us her numbers were trending down and he really felt she would be just fine. There is no greater relief than a doctor telling you your baby is healthy, it was a definite Thank you, Jesus. moment.

By day four we really felt like we were finding some balance and a rythum as a family of three. My amazing husband has taken on the role of amazing father as though he’s always been one. He changed all but two or three diapers in the hospital, y’all. I changed one. The day we went home. He’s up helping me feed, change and rock our girl all through the night. That’s something I expect to change as I heal and have more stamina and he goes back to work, but this week especially I needed that support so much and he’s never once wavered. 

Even though so much of this story to mamahood has not happened the way I wanted or wished it would I’ve got no regrets. My cesarean experience was a good one. Even though I’ve had some trouble regulating my pain in the middle of the night I feel like every night gets a tiny bit better. (The first two nights home from about midnight to two a.m. I basically could not have gotten up to help do the one a.m. feeding. Thanking God for that husband of mine.) Even the struggles we are having with feeding don’t make me anxious. Maybe I’m too tired and too much in survival mode for that to even be a thing but I really thought it would be while I was pregnant. I’m finding that whatever we need to do to keep us all sane and fed is OK; Amara has had time at the breast, she’s had Mama’s milk bottles, donor’s milk bottles, and even a formula bottle. She’s thriving on all of it and I’m feeling really OK about however it all works out over the next several weeks and months. 

We’ve now had our first Well Baby checkup with her pediatrician and that went really great. She’s a healthy babe! Though I find it hard to smile and nod as we get numerous new parent speeches. They sound like they are speaking to a teenager who has never touched a baby and I bite my tongue not to say something snarky about my age and the fact that I have changed a diaper or two in my lifetime. When the doctor told us “She’ll be really sleepy for the first couple weeks, and then she’ll have a phase of crying all the time for several weeks and you will try a hundred things and no one thing will work consistently and you’ll feel a little crazy. That’s all normal. THEN she’ll develop a personality.” I laughed. And made an allowance because he’s a man and never been pregnant. Silly doctor this girl had a personality in the womb and she certainly has one now -even sleepy. 

So now our long infertility journey has its happy ending; we are a family of three. All those years of praying, of hope, of frustration, of pain, fear, sorrow… They have a beautiful ending, one I’m super aware not everyone gets, one I’m not taking a second of for granted. Before I was released from the hospital my doctor came and asked “Have you guys thought about birth control?” And y’all know I laughed so hard. I haven’t thought about birth control in nearly ten years. So she recounted a patient who had IVF triplets and then got pregnant with a singleton and everyone thought she had quads as a warning to us. And still I laugh. Because after all of this if we do get a spontaneous blessing no body in this family is going to be upset about it. We’re gonna do just what we did the entirety of this first miracle -be thankful and pray over that blessing everyday. 

Even in my days of darkness and doubt He had a plan. Amara Joy was born at 9:40 a.m. the morning of her great-grandmother Martha’s birthday. We were headed for that glorious moment all along. It was worth it. 

God is good. 

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued love, support, and prayers!

Dear Baby

Dear I-Can’t-Believe-You’re-Almost-Here Baby,

In a week or less now I’ll have a new name. You’ll be in my arms instead of in my belly and I’ll be called Mama. I write that down, and say it out loud, and still part of me lives in disbelief. I’ve felt for so long that you were a dream we’d forever be chasing that even now I have a hard time believing you’re going to be here. That must sound crazy to people on the outside of this journey. I mean I’ve been feeling you move now for a long time, I talk to you, I know you’re a real person about to be born. So it’s funny there’s still this part of me that can’t wrap itself around the fact that soon I’ll touch your skin, and hear your cries, and see your face. 

People always say birth is transformative and I’m anticipating that in whatever way you get from the inside out I will be changed forever. 

I have to say it that way, my little stubborn girl, because this birth thing is so unpredictable. You seem to have decided you are quite comfy in there and have no plans to prepare to come out anytime soon. In fact you’ve wedged yourself in at an odd diagonal so that you can use my liver as a pillow and my left kidney as a springboard. Despite my nudging and telling you it’s time to get ready you’re not turning on your own. I’ve also mentioned in what might be my ‘mom voice’ that if you don’t move they’ll come in and drag you out by your backside. Literally. Still you don’t care. I have a feeling this may be how our mother-daughter relationship will go.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about dads lately and how I’m so excited for you to meet yours. Though I’m admittedly pretty biased I do think you’re getting a really fantastic dad. I hope you come to enjoy sports and cars with him, that maybe you’ll share some of his passions. I also hope you’ll take to heart his model of what to expect from the people in your life. About what respect looks and feels like and what it doesn’t. About what love does and doesn’t do no matter the words used. Your dad is exceptional at making people feel valued and that’s the kind of person I hope you become too. 

I guess parents always hope for certain things for their children… We pray… Let her be a good person. Let her have compassion and be kind. And also…Let her be strong and courageous. To know when to fight for what she believes in, to fight for people and against injustice. Admittedly, it might sound like we pray you’ll become something of a super hero. But mostly we’re praying we raise a good human who recognizes other good humans when they cross her path. Mostly we pray we don’t screw up this parenting gig we’ve been begging God to give us.

So, as I prepare to begin this life as your mama I am both overcome with thankfulness that I got the job and overwhelmed with the task to be good at it. However it all unfolds, I do know this without a doubt-  This life with you and your dad is above and beyond and (even when it gets hard) is my most favorite adventure. 

Let’s get started.

Love,

Mama

AJ’s Nursery

Disclaimer: I’ve never tried doing a photographic room tour so expect imperfection. 🙂 

We’re very close to complete around here with our girl’s room. AND since we’re two weeks from bringing that little one home I thought now might be a good time to show you what her home looks like. Let’s start at her door and go counter-clockwise around her space…

The bag on her door handle is ready to go to the hospital with us when the time comes. Her book shelves have filled out wonderfully thanks to our many baby shower guests. Fun fact: those two pillows on the bottom shelf were the hub’s and mine when we were little. It’s nice to pass down a few of our things. She’s got blankets from both of us as well. Also, that little tractor on the top shelf is a bank, bought after a tractor pull the year we were dating/engaged. It’s been waiting a long time to sit on that shelf!

Rocking chair inherited from Amara’s great-grandmother at the ready. Her heavy pink curtains are blackout curtains since the sun rises in her window.

Her little mobile/flower installation was created with help from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law and I hope Amara likes looking up at it as much as I do. Her changing table/dresser is stocked with diapering needs, current fitting clothes, receiving blankets and swaddles. The bottom two drawers are bigger clothes I don’t need easy access to yet. She’s got a few toys tucked in a bin under her bed, including a rabbit pillow that was her dad’s and a doll that was mine. A doll that was laid next to me to show how little I was when I was born. I think it might be fun to recreate that photo with Amara.

AJ’s crib is made up even though it’ll be a little while before she sleeps here. (She’ll sleep next to our bed at first.) I read somewhere that you should layer up your mattress liners and sheets so if you have to change the bed in the middle of the night all you do is pull off a layer. So that’s what I’ve done. Added bonus: no need to store extra sheets in a drawer they’re either on the bed or in the wash. Mini Maggie her puppy from Nana is waiting for her. We’ve also got a basket waiting for the bathroom renovation currently going on to be finished; her towels, soaps and bath toys will have a home in there. 

The next few sizes in clothes are hanging in the closet. She has an empty bin at the top for too-small-clothes to go into as she out grows them. There’s also a diapering stash bin, a quilt/blanket bin, and a bin for toys that require her to be a little older to use. The tall dresser in the closet holds her going-out knits; hats, sweaters, etc. It also holds bibs, burp cloths, more blankets…Yes, we are blanket heavy around here! But there’s a mix of receiving, muslin, knit/crochet, and quilts so she’s got a blanket, or 3, for all occasions. I also think some will migrate to grandparent’s houses over time. Then other drawers have a few baby wearing supplies and a shopping cart cover for when she’s able to sit in one. There’s room in both her dressers for more things if we need, only a few of the drawers in each are packed full.

She’s got a basket of infant toys, and her first broncos hat on top of this dresser as well. And then lastly we have her humidifier, her diaper pail, and space for the small CD player we plan to buy to play her lullaby CDs on. The art print on the wall here was a gift from my mom and what I kindof based the colors in her room around. The words at the bottom are these:

I have a premonition that soars on silver wings, it’s a dream of your accomplishment of many wondrous things. I do not know beneath which sky or where you’ll challenge fate, I only know it will be high! I only know it will be great!

thirty-seven

Hey hey hey…

Here’s a picture of our cutie pups that has nothing to do with this update… But neither did any of my other pictures so… Shrug. 

Let’s see where to start…

At my last couple of OB appointments I had high blood pressure. Not scary high, but enough that the doctors raised an eyebrow that second time. They asked me to do some blood work and a 24 hour urine test -which for the record is annoying and kinda gross. But I did the things because the doctor said my high blood pressure could be just a little hypertension or could be a sign of preeclampsia. 

So, yesterday I had another OB appointment to get test results and talk about what those results might mean for the duration of this baby growing process. I went in pretty confident it was going to be hypertension, I expected a “we’ll watch it and maybe treat with meds if it gets too high” kind of thing. I even told D to not bother to come to this appointment cause it was gonna be in and out. Sigh. Y’all know what happens when you assume, right?

The result was that I have preeclampsia. Though yesterday my blood pressure was good, the protein in my urine confirmed that diagnosis. Protein that should be at the max 300 in 24 hours was 525. ‘Moderately high’ the doctor said, and told me it’s not a panic button, they’ve seen it well over 1000 before. But it still gives me the preeclampsia label which changes how we finish this baby growing process a little bit.

If I wasn’t already seeing the specialist doctor to monitor Amara’s weight I would be for sure now. Preeclampsia can cause growth restriction. Though the last time I saw him he said she was about to hit a growth spurt and judging by how hungry I am all the time the last few days I think she’s there. If you come visit me bring food. All the food. We especially like Italian but have stopped being so picky because ravenous hunger coupled with less room for consuming said food means I need to eat every couple hours. I wake up in the middle of the night ready to knaw off my own arm. My weight went up a few pounds finally so I’m taking that as a good sign. It had been either holding steady or dropping the last few appointments.I see the specialist next week and I’m really looking forward to that appointment.

I will also see my OB every week now. In the ‘normal’ schedule I’d have still been every two weeks a little while longer but the preeclampsia schedule moves up our timeline. I will obviously have my blood pressure monitored, but also I will have Non-Stress Tests (NST) every week, probably twice a week, from here on out. After the doctor gave me the news yesterday she asked if I could stay to have one right then. Of course I said ‘sure’. So the nurse wheels in this big machine, stacks some pillows for me on the table to help me get comfortable, and straps two monitors on my belly. The first monitor goes high at the top of my uterus to see if I’m having any contractions. I’m not, it was quiet. The second one goes low to listen to Amara’s heart and track how much she moves. So I lay back and read a book for twenty minutes while the machine spits out a record for the doctor.

At first our girl was relaxed, her heart rate was in the 140s, and she was just calm in there. So they thought maybe if I ate a granola bar she’d perk up. But, before I even got the granola bar eaten Amara realized there was something on her house and let me tell you she is not a fan of having things pressing on her house! She spent the next 10-15 minutes pushing and kicking at the monitor. Now they turn up the heartbeat kindof loud so that they can hear it from the hall in case she moves and they need to reposition it. It should be that quick steady thump thump thump. But when your kiddo decides to shove the monitor over and over it’s a very loud and obnoxious swishing static. The doctor and nurse kept coming in to look at the graph because a lot of the time her heart rate couldn’t get recorded over all the pushing and shoving. It went up into the 170s as she was active and even to the 190s when I believe the frustration of not getting her way set in. She did wear herself out a little and calmed down about two minutes before they finally took the monitor off. The doctor said “This baby is wild!” And I had to apologize. I told her I’d forgot she doesn’t like things on my belly. If I rest a book there, or a cup, or my hands holding my phone and she’s not in the mood she kicks all the things off. She laughed and said that there was obviously nothing concerning on the test when Amara is that active and determined. So, I’ll see the specialist first and then her again next week and we’ll have some more information about how we move through the next several weeks.

The doctor did give me a bunch of disclaimers, like…if I get a persistent headache, or have upper abdominal pain and vomiting, if my vision changes, etc… I need to call them right away. I’m also supposed to prepare to meet this girl at 37 weeks. I asked if even if they’re monitoring me super close and all looks good still to expect 37 weeks. She said yes. I asked if I can be induced then too, she said as long as Amara is head down at that point that induction is still the optimal choice over cesarean. I do find it amusing that we will both be 37 when she arrives. Me in years, her in weeks. I also find it amusing that I’ve been saying to people all along that I’d be OK if she wanted to come before Christmas because I’m excited to meet her. 37 weeks for us will be December 10th. 

I had a moment of Whoa-I meant a little before Christmas not a whole 3 weeks early! So there’s half the struggle to get my brain around the fact that she’ll be here so soon and she’s not ready yet… She’s got growing to do in there! (Yes yes yes I know 37 is considered term, early, but term and not overly concerning to medical staff.) But when you’re told over and over 40 weeks, 40 weeks, 40 weeks, to have that change messes with your head a little. I had plans to make all of us ready for her too, and our house, and now my plans need to change because I lost time to get everything done! But, the other half of that anxiety coin is straight up excitement. She’s gonna be here, on the outside, in my arms, so soon and I’m so ready to see that sweet face I can’t hardly stand it! This stubborn girl, who wants her way, who will be the kid who kicks the nursing cover off and eventually all her blankets (like I did when I was little), who might hate socks like her Mama and be a little bit of a picky eater like her daddy… Yes. Yes to all the things. I’ll do whatever I gotta do to welcome her into the world as healthy and safely as possible. 

So, all that leaves us with the current prayer list… 

That she get her growing done quickly -Develop those lungs! Put on that weight! 

That my body maintains -No organ damage! No emergency interventions needed!

That things around here get accomplished quickly -Our bathroom renovation done before she arrives! Me to make peace with my to-do list and the really not-that-important tasks I had planned to get done before she arrived!

And, in the midst of the chaos the next couple months looks to be bringing our family- Joy. When we get worn down, when things are painful, or fear-inducing, when life doesn’t go as planned- it’s all going to be okay. We’ll be together and we’ll celebrate every little victory. We might come out of this with scars but oh my gosh we’ve learned to embrace the scars that every step of this life has given us so far and we’ll learn to embrace these, too. 

These coming holidays are going to be something exceedingly special my friends!

Oh, baby!


A little third-trimester update…

We’ve had another appointment with the perinatalogist, still trying to see all the chambers of our little girl’s heart. We got closer this time, and saw some better pictures of her brain as well. Her little nural-tube-thingy (that’s the technical term I like to use) looked great. All her little bits still look good to the doctor so that’s very encouraging. Though when I say little I’m not being cute. 

Amara is measuring nearly a week small for her gestational age. Not concerning to the doctor who shows us a graph of average babies and she’s in the thirty-fifth percentile. He said we worry when babies are below the tenth percentile or above the ninetieth. But as for her parents (or maybe just mom) we raise an eyebrow at him trying to decide if it’s a ‘don’t worry yet’ type statement doctors sometimes make or a ‘no really there’s nothing to worry about’ statement. I’m leaning into the second for now.

He did say her legs are short, not abnormally short, but just a she might not be very tall kindof thing. Which made me laugh and raise my hand. Yeah, she gets that fairly, short legs are definitely hereditary over here. We also found out she’s flipped and is now breach. Which is fine since she’s got plenty of time to move around in there. I think she had just flipped the night before our appointment. I was laying in bed on my side and suddenly she moved so hard and fast my whole body moved with her and I said OH! OOOF! And thought -what the heck?! So it wasn’t surprising that she’s turned around. 

I love when she’s super active, seriously, I could sit and stare at my bumping and rolling belly for hours. I laugh, she kicks, I laugh more. I try to tell whoever is near Look! Look! but very seldom does that work. She still mostly dances just for me and that gives me all kinds of pride. Maybe she gets her shyness from me!

All in all we had a great appointment, and the doctor said if we wanted to come back again in four weeks we could track her growth curve. She’s right on the cusp of a growth spurt. I’m all for that so we made another appointment.

Now that we’ve got the happy baby update done, let’s chat a moment about the struggles. The last couple weeks I’ve been having some pretty bad low-back pain. Firstly, that’s not surprising. I’ve had problems with my lower back as long as I can remember. I knew I’d have issues as the pregnancy progressed and added strain to that area. I had hoped I’d have more time before that started but it seems we’re in it now. The difficult thing is there’s really nothing we can do but try a lot of little things to help manage the pain to get us through.

As I look ahead I’m pretty nervous about dealing with the pain over the next few months. Not that I’m not up to the challenge, or that I won’t do everything I need to do to get this kid here happy and healthy. But, let’s be honest, knowing you’re going to be just managing pain for a long haul is daunting. The pressure on my lower back pinches nerves that radiate pain out my hips and sometimes down my legs. I have a belly band to wear and that helps, I see a chiropractor and that helps, I have a small TENS unit to wear and that helps. The doctor has given me some medication to take when I need it and has recommended physical therapy. So there’s lots of small things I can do, not to fix it but to manage it, to get me to our delivery day. I hope I can maintain a positive attitude as we go on, I know pain can wear you down. I’m so excited for her to grow baby grow even though it exacerbates the back issue. 

We’ve also had a lot of family stuff happening lately leaving our world feeling ridiculously unsettled. It’s hard when you feel like you are finally getting to a place of all good things after several years of awful only to find your good is tempered with more difficulty. It’s a strange dichotomy this celebration vs struggle we’ve got going on. Our family could certainly use your prayers for strength in the struggle and health to persevere. 

To leave on a encouraging note -we’re getting so close to welcoming this babe! There’s so much less infront of us than we have behind us and her sweet self will be here sooner than we realize. Holiday seasons always go by so fast cause we all get so busy. I hope we pause to remember that as we get ready to welcome a new year we’ll be welcoming new life right along with it!

second trimester

Ohmygoshyall.

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!

We’re one week from the third trimester. (Or less depending on when you count it starting exactly.)

Crazy. Just crazy. 

A few months ago it felt like days were crawling and we’d never get here, and suddenly here we are! Scheduling doctor’s appointments every two weeks instead of once a month, signing up for birthing classes and baptism classes, discussing parties, getting questions about contractions… Already?! The time is speeding up and I’m so excited! 

But, before I get ahead of myself let’s talk about how things have been going and have a picture or two. Okay? Okay.

Has a baby skeleton ever looked so cute?! Say no. That’s the cutest skull you’ve ever laid eyes on. Amara weighed 1lb 10oz in that photo, nearly two weeks ago. So maybe she’s getting close to two pounds now. She’s head down and turns right to left occasionally, I can tell when her wiggles change direction in my belly. 

Occasionally, I can see them ripple in different spots, though never when anyone else is around. She moves so much for me, it’s like we have a secret code, and then the second I want to share it she stops. Her dad got a good swift kick once, and then we waited and waited but she didn’t do it again. I think she knows when we’re alone, or when he falls asleep, or when everyone else is distracted. She likes to thump my bladder; empty this thing already! she says. She moves just so when I’m leaning over too much; sit back I need more room! When my stomach growls that’s another wiggle of impatience; where’s my spaghetti?! 

Her bones are getting too strong for the perinatalogist to see all that he wants to see. We tried for better/more views of her heart this last time but she didn’t want to move to make it any easier. Again. He said we’d try once more but wasn’t confident with her growing that it would be any different. Not that he has anything he’s concerned about, but just that he’s not satisfied. Which is fine by me; more pictures are always fine by me! He told me to quit eating ice cream… Ha! Sorry I cannot help you, Sir, her bones gotta grow somehow. 

Here’s the photo I think looks like a dog snout, I turned it so maybe you’d understand the orientation. It’s her nose and mouth kindof like she’s pressed them up against glass. Or -blowing us a kiss- Dr Schneider likes to say. I don’t often recognize all her bits and pieces right away during the scan, but this I knew when I saw it and asked for a copy. The doctor looks to see if she’s got a cleft palate with this photo (she doesn’t), I just think it’s so cute. Of course I think everything on the scan is cute… Her belly, her leg bones, her gal bladder, her liver… Whatever, it’s all cute. It’s all amazing. I think about how she started out as just few cells and how now she’s a little person and I can’t hardly breathe for the amazement.

I’ve had another OB appointment since then, a long appointment to see if I have gestational diabetes. I don’t have the results back yet but am praying hard that I pass. I also got the flu shot and t-dap while I was there, and a whole bunch of blood work. I asked about my weight gain, since I haven’t been paying attention. I’m doing well; still have got several pounds for her to grow before I get near the limit they like to set for plus size moms. 

Just this last week I’ve developed this fun symptom -hello, swollen feet! It’s not all the time, this photo was after two days of standing/sitting and not much resting, so it’s not usually this bad… But it is a thing now. I’d like to say I’ve stopped throwing up… But I did that this morning… About once a week now I get to do that, so it has improved, but I don’t really expect it to stop all together. Other than the occasional aches from being on my feet too much I mostly feel really good. The tiredness never really went away, but I don’t feel overly cumbersome or awkward yet. I told my nurse it’s because I had half this belly to start with so I’m used to working with it. Ha! 

We’re mostly just celebratory over every little thing around here. OK… I’m emotional over every little thing, too. Soon I think I’ll be able to share nursery photos and talk more about the ‘getting ready’ bits. I feel like there’s lots to do and maybe not enough time..but I also think that it’ll all be okay. If the timeline isn’t perfect, if things get ‘finished’ while we get this parenting business started… It’ll all be okay. We’ll figure it out. Babies have come into homes with much less perfection than ours and life just gets on with itself. Even imperfect, we are so ready. Ready for the sleeplessness, ready for the cries, ready for every new thing to marvel over… Just ready for this little life and all that it’ll do to change ours. 

Next year, y’all, is gonna be all kinds of awesome. And I say that fully amazed at this past one. He is faithful.

What’s in a name? 

I’ve always thought names are important. They can come with a history, a heritage, a wish, an expectation…they can be a first impression or a lasting one, and they can be used to build you up or tear you down.

Even before I was a Mrs, before we were on this long road to parenthood I kept lists of names I liked. I sometimes had pictures of the people those names belonged to in my head. I worked out their stories and struggles in my writing, I imagined their lives. So, you can imagine I have not taken the naming of my children lightly. I have written lists of names for them, imagined what traits their name might bring to their life, what story it tells about them. I’ve looked up meanings, thought about nicknames, and considered they way it sounds mixed with our last name. I think I’ve taken this naming business much more seriously than my sweet husband and possibly more than is really necessary, but this little birthday gift has always been high on my priority list.

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Amara Joy is the name we’ve chosen for our girl. OK, admittedly, I may have insisted. 😉 I knew her first name long before she was created, I knew her first name without a doubt long before I could settle on a boys name. When I said before I might have called her from heaven by her name I truly meant it. This is that story.

I believe I’ve mentioned before the importance of my maternal grandmother in my life. The memories I have of her are some of my most precious, the summers I spent with her instilled in me a sense of love and acceptance I will never forget. I can close my eyes and stand on the front porch of her small trailer as though I was there yesterday. I can walk my way through that home touching the kitchen counter smelling the cinnamon sugar pie crust she saved for me. I can picture her in her chair, tatting away with hands swift and sure as lightning while baseball plays silently on the TV. I can move down the wood paneled hall, stopping to visit my bedroom, smiling at the bags of yarn in the closet and know the solid peaceful feeling I’d have resting my head on that pillow, listening to the train whistle in the distance. I can walk farther down the hall, visiting the mustard yellow stack-able washer and dryer in the bathroom, just my size I always thought. I can visit grandma’s bedroom with the floral bedding and curtains my mom and her sisters replaced one summer as a gift for her. My grandma went to be with the Lord when I was 14, but those memories of her linger stronger than any in my life.

During this infertility process when I sometimes found it hard to talk to God I would talk to my grandma instead. She raised six girls, persevered after her husband’s death when the youngest of which was five and the oldest sixteen. Of course I knew her as a retiree, without the pressures of providing for teenagers and young children. I knew a woman passionate about church and singing loud and proud even from her place beside me in the pew. Who was known for her making to both family and friends. She made layettes for all the babies, slippers, blankets, hats, quilts, dolls…her hands did not know how to be still. She taught me a lot, but mostly she just loved me. It’s the kind of relationship I hope my mom and her granddaughter have. So, when in this difficult journey I felt abandoned I called out to her. I can lay in my bed 20+ years later and listen for the trains in the dark and feel myself back in that little bedroom safe and comforted.

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I’ve always known it was her I wanted to name my daughter after. Her name was Martha -and though I don’t love the name Martha I set out to find a name that could both honor her and celebrate the unique girl she would’ve called great-grand-baby. I went looking for variations on her name and my first consideration was Mara. I like the name Mara a lot, but I don’t love that I remember Ruth 1:20 every time I hear it.

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.”

I definitely don’t want to give my girl a legacy of bitterness, so I looked a little farther. I found that if you add an ‘A’, and the name becomes Amara, it changes the meaning to ‘eternal’. Now that’s a name I’m happy to bestow on my little love. So Amara it became, and since I’ve found it there has been no other name.

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Amara’s middle name was harder to settle on but has a less dramatic history. I tried out the middle names Faith and Hope first, but they left me feeling unsettled and not quite right. A few years ago I chose the One Little Word for myself of Joyful; a word to think on and bring into my life for the year. I made a banner and hung it up in our hallway, and at the end of the year I didn’t take it down. I don’t think I chose another word after that, it just lives with me all the time. When I think about what the infertility process required -Faith and Hope- are at the tippy top of the list. But when I think about what I wish for my girl it’s that when her faith and hope are called upon to be active hardcore that she find joy in whatever she’s going through. My cousin Meredith would say “Find joy in the journey.” And that is the dream. A verse that’s stuck with me through all of this is Psalm 27:13-14.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord  In the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;  Be strong and let your heart take courage; 

Yes, wait for the LORD.”

That is the truth. Not to say I didn’t have hard days, but the hard days did not beat me, they did not break me. Which leads me right to the verse that is my wish for our girl; Nehemiah 8:10.

“Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

That’s it. I pray the joy of the Lord is her strength; Amara Joy it is. Our daughter has a name that satisfies the part of me that puts too much weight on two little words. Added bonus -her initials are A.J.- my father’s first initial (A) and my mother’s (J). It’s also a pretty great nickname should she be a Tomboy and prefer something more neutral than Amara…or Mari…or cuddle bug…or snuggle bear…or any of the thousand other cutesie things she may be called by those that love her.

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As you can see she’s already brought so much joy to her parents.

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