four months in the club

I think of motherhood like a club I always wanted to join but thought I’d never be allowed. I used to see mamas out with their littles and be so jealous. I wanted that; I wanted to use secret mom language and have super powers. Now that I’m four months deep into this adventure I don’t know that I developed any super powers but I feel pretty excited to have finally joined the club. 

Amara is growing and changing so fast I feel like I’m trying to hang on to these baby days while they fly by in a mad rush to childhood. The sleep deprivation in our house is righting itself now and making the adults feel much more normal. I still cross my fingers when people ask if she sleeps through the night though. These eight hours of uninterrupted sleep are so new I’m expecting the gift to be snatched back at any moment. We’re careful not to take each night for granted, anticipating a sleep regression and teething to shake things up soon enough. 

I’m​ not ashamed to admit that I don’t miss early baby days. I love an interactive kid even as I find myself worn out at the end of a day of entertaining and feeding and comforting. Going from a lot of alone time pre-baby to very little of it now has been quite the adjustment for me. I find myself talking more than I ever did before. Narrating my life with her from ‘hello, good morning’ to ‘good night, my love’. She’s started babbling back sometimes. Amara is like most people; sometimes she’s having a talkative day and sometimes not. I love it when she does. She seems so pleased to get her breathy baby language out into the world. 

I’ve had a lot of back/nerve pain so I started physical therapy this week in hopes it’ll help me. It’s pretty awful to pick her up and need to wait for shocking leg pain to stop before I can move. I want to spend more time moving and playing with her and not limping and frustrated about how much pain I’m in. I’m hoping to be better by the time she’s really moving! She still shows little interest in rolling over and all the interest in being helped to sit up and stand. She can army crawl her way across her crib and we see her beginning to try to figure out how to get where she wants to go. I think as soon as her arms and legs learn to work together she’ll be off to see the world. 

Every day Amara shows more interest in toys and books. She shows a preference for things that you present to her for entertainment. She’s a fan of Dr. Suess, her talking Leap Frog phone, and her Oball. She loves to people watch; taking her to restaurants is usually a pretty good experience if she can look all around. She now sits in the big seat of her stroller instead of in her infant seat on top and that’s made a big difference in going out when I can’t carry her for long periods of time. She still dislikes her carseat and protests getting strapped down. Luckily, the protests are generally short-lived once we get moving. 

I thought I’d be updating here more often than once a month but I’m finding that so much of what I thought I’d be doing is not getting done. I haven’t done any crafting in a very long time, it now takes me weeks to read a book of my own, and my scrapbook supplies have been sitting on the shelf. I envy those moms who seem to stick to a schedule and get lots of things done. Our days are mostly fluid around here, hopefully I’ll learn to be better at making and sticking to schedules as we grow. I’m making a list of activities to help add some structure to our days, though currently sorting out how to have consistant naps is our little project. Currently AJ tends to take lots of little short naps and I’m hoping she’ll move to take longer more consistent ones over the next month. 

We’re excited to celebrate holidays with our girl and to begin to introduce traditions. Things are so much more fun and exciting with Amara on our team. Finding just the right Easter book for her to help her learn about what it’s all about is purposeful shopping. We think about what toys would maximize both entertainment but also education. We want to share our favorite things with her and love watching her learn about her world. It just keeps getting better and better, my friends. Those big answered prayers and big dreams coming true is the best of my days. 

three is a beautiful number

The three of us for three months.

How did this become life? 

So damn slowly and then all at once.

I think lots of people like new babies. The tiny, sleepy, vulnerable freshness of them. But though I think that stage is cute it’s not my favorite. Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation that comes hard and fast in those early days. Still fresh in my mind I’m not eager to go back to that. No. Now we’re getting into my favorite. I’m in love with the three month plus ages. The discovery ages. The everything is interesting and exciting ages. 

Seeing my daughter recognize my face is one of the best moments of life. Seriously. I hope I never forget that first moment I thought she knows me. Watching her learn to play is another. As she begins to learn cause and effect and how to control her limbs and hands I delight in every aspect of her discovery. Her attention span slowly grows and she delights in new noises and facial expressions. She’s reflecting us as we talk and smile and I cannot get enough of those ‘conversations’. Tell me. I say I want to hear all your stories. I love all your stories. 

 I’m in love with every aspect of her. In love with the weight of her. I’m stuck by her solidness every single time I pick her up. Her realness. The weight of her head on my shoulder. The tightness of her grip. The thrust behind her pushing off. The force with which she nuzzles into our necks; closer closer, can’t get close enough. Me neither, kiddo.

Amara had her first giggle this last week. At least we think she did. As soon as it happened I turned to her dad Did she just laugh at us?! And try as we might she didn’t do it again but instead looked at us in that studying way she has as if trying to sort out why we were getting increasingly goofier. More precious than gold are those sounds, is that smile. Though she smiles more easily the older she gets there’s no mistaking this serious minded girl. She’s a studier. She’s a watch and see kindof kid. Who are you? Her intense eyes say. What are you about? Her little eyebrows knit together and she stares hard at new people and things. Will she be cautious with her trust? Will she be a worrier? Will she be intense even as she plays? We speculate often about how her personality will develop as she grows. 

She’s discovered her hands recently. That fingers taste good; on herself or whatever hand is close enough to give a nibble. She’s started to drool a little and leaves little wet mouth marks on friendly shoulders. She often prefers to be held facing out, sitting on your arm while you walk around. She likes to take tours. Show me around, she says. 

Like her cousin, Remy, she seems to want to skip the crawling stage and go right to walking. Tummy time is only fun if she wants to sleep, otherwise she wants to be up up. She’s stable enough for the one handed carry now, peeking over your shoulder while you go about your business. Don’t worry if she gets tired this is a good place to fall asleep, you don’t need to put her down. In fact don’t put her down, just slip her right into the crook of your arm and take a break for an hour or two. That’s when the best/longest naps happen. 

The only time you need to put her down is bedtime. She’s begun to extend her night sleep… As I sit here writing she’s over seven hours. Shock! Awe! Of course I was up nearly two hours ago and now can’t go back to sleep for anticipating her waking. We are only just getting used to having maybe a solid five hours, on these rare nights she goes six plus my own body clock still thinks it needs to be up. I don’t adjust to new schedules as quickly as I used to, and I don’t fall asleep as easily either. Some nights that is ridiculously frustrating. 

I spend a lot of time watching her sleep. 
I don’t mind mostly. I try to be considerate of my weariness and take time to hand her off when I need to. My energy level and my patience level are tied tightly together. If I allow myself to get too tired I allow myself to get frustrated easily. No one in this house likes that, least of all me. Mostly I remember these days are fleeting. These moments go quickly. Laundry and dishes will always be there, they will eventually get done, the time will come for those things. My own timeline is learning to be fluid and unrushed. I’m discovering the more rushed I feel the more Amara will require me to slow down. She’ll need a diaper changed, or a bottle, or not be able to get comfortable and have long tired cries. If we try too hard, get tense about her crying so that our energy isn’t relaxed it makes it harder to calm her down. She is a good reflection of your own energy; if you want her to relax you have to relax yourself. Oh the lessons we learn.

I’m sure there are so very many more to come. Here’s to those coming days, my friends, and to this girl of ours who just keeps growing. What a glorious adventure this life is.

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.



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!

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!

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