Monday, December 28, 2015

new year, new blog.

A picture from New Year's 2015. We were in Key West. There were lots of daiquiris and no babies!
I love Christmas, but New Years Day might be my favorite holiday. Ever since I was a kid, I've always given New Years the pomp and ceremony I think it deserves. When I was young, I used to start a new journal every year and stay up until midnight to watch Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve, and then I'd lay in bed and write my first entry of the new year. I'd recap my year and write out my resolutions for the coming year and I'd wake up the next morning feeling energized by the possibility of a whole new year ahead of me. 

I haven't changed much. I still get giddy at the blank canvas of a new year; all the promise and hope of a new beginningI still think New Year's Eve is magical and sleeping through the countdown to midnight is an absolute cardinal sin in my book. 

And in the spirit of the new year and new beginnings, I'm making some changes to the blog. I love this little corner of the internet so much and I love sharing my joy and my heartache and my silly stories. What started out as a way to keep family and friends updated about our life as we moved from home and started out military life has grown into a place where I can share a little bit of my heart. (And every warm response to one of my posts has meant the world to me. Thank you!)

So I'm putting the blog under construction this week and by New Year's Day, I hope to have her back up and running. Not only will I have a new look, but a new name as well! And in anticipation of the blog's fresh look, the song below is a little clue about the new name. 

I hope your holidays are full of joy and you close out 2015 with the people you love most. I'll see you all in 2016!

Friday, December 18, 2015

just google it.

There is nothing like being a new parent to show you how little you know. And there is nothing like the one two punch of sleep deprivation and the neediness of a newborn to make every new inquiry feel like the most important conundrum. Which is why my Google search bar is getting the workout of it's life right now. Pretty much since the day after Eva was born, every time I'm perplexed anew, I pick up my trusty phone and look to the magic of the interwebs to solve the newest mystery. 

I am thankful that the collective knowledge of moms and dads from across the globe can be accessed from my couch at 3am and I make full use of it. There is no concern too silly, no query too odd, no question too obvious for the internet. The relief I feel when I start to type my question into that search bar and I see that someone, somewhere has asked the same thing is a wonderful feeling. 

And it's a good thing, because I Google everything lately. Here are some of my actual searches from the last seven weeks. These are Google searches made in all manner of desperation and confusion at all hours of the day and night. 

Is it normal for baby to need to be held 24/7?
Spoiler alert: Yes.

Does Starbucks deliver in Jacksonville 
Spoiler alert: No. 

Will my baby ever space out feedings?

Can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?
When I discovered that the answer was yes, it led to the next search...

Irish twins pros and cons
...which led to the next search...

Birth control while breastfeeding

There's also a few odd searches, because let's face it, babies are perplexing.
Umbilical cord stump whats normal
How to clean breast milk from clothes
How to clean breast milk from couch 
Baby screams when I put lotion on
Winnie the pooh themed wedding 
(I can't explain this last one. I guess I was just curious in the middle of the night if this was something people did. Spoiler alert: It is.)

And searches that are entirely more practical.
Okay to drink coffee and breastfeed
Okay to drink wine and breastfeed
How many glasses of wine 

The internet has a lot of helpful tips, but sometimes the best advice is from the people I trust most. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

one month down.

My favorite things:
  • Sleeping all curled up on someone's chest. 
  • Car rides. 
  • Watching football with Dad. At least I think I'm watching football. I honestly have no idea what I'm looking at, but it's bright and it moves and I like that. 
  • It's a tie between waiting until my Mom has got me all dressed and then pooping my diaper or waiting until my parents have got all comfy in bed, then spitting my paci out and crying. These are my two favorite pastimes.  
My least favorite things: 
  • Going more than two hours without a meal. 
  • Being set down.
Eva is one month old! We're celebrating with a beer because one month ago, I was sure I'd made a terrible mistake and I was sure that delivering a baby and then attempting to keep that baby alive would be the death of me. But it wasn't! I'm still here, R and I are still married, and our kid is still alive and thriving! Success all around! 

It's been a life changing month to say the least. I would be lying if I said I enjoyed every minute of it. A month ago I thought motherhood would sweep over me in the moments after delivery, those flushed and exhausted moments when I got to hold my baby for the first time and I'd look at R and we'd look at our daughter and we'd be different because now we were parents. That's not quite how the fairy tale went. Mostly I spent the first week in a kind of exhuastion I did not know was humanely possible. I basically cried as much as my baby did and I spent long hours in the dark of night wondering why I thought having a kid was a good idea. 

Then I started being able to function on less sleep and I showered and actually went out in the sunshine and things started looking up. 

And now, one month later, I'm starting to feel like a mom. I don't freak out when she cries. I can nurse her in public without completely stressing out. I can still have intelligent conversations on only a few measly hours of sleep. I don't have it all figured out by any means, but each day, I find that I learn something new about Eva and something new about myself and I feel a little more confident to take on the next day. 

So here's to one month of parenting and one month of life for our sweet Eva! Here's a little bit of what we've been up to this month: 

First family selfie!

Her first outing was to a homebrew competition! She wore an Intuition Brewery onesie that says "Assistant Brewer" over the pocket. She was a huge hit with the brewer crowd! 

Her second outing was to Mom's favorite place in the world...

Baby's first brunch!

A pedi with Mom and Nana. 
She dressed up in her best turkey outfit for a Thanksgiving with lots of love around the table.

She also dressed appropriately to root for her favorite team! 

Meeting Grandma and Grandpa for the very first time!

Getting all the love and attention from Auntie Andrea and Uncle Brad. 

Snuggling with her big brother. Hearts in my eyes! 

Friday, November 27, 2015

a thank you note to my husband. [part three of three]

In the spirit of Thanksgiving this week, I am posting a three part series of thank you notes to some important people who have done so much to support me as I become a parent. 

To my husband, 

In all those months of pregnancy, we daydreamed and imagined what our daughter would be like and what our lives would be like with her. I'm not sure any more what we imagined, what we thought a newborn would be like, because it seems like nothing could have prepared me for what it has been like, And nothing could have prepared me for what it would be like to watch you become a father.

After more than a decade together, I thought I knew your every move. I thought I had seen every side of you and I am watching in wonder as a new side of you is revealed. When they first wheeled me into the recovery room, you played our song while you walked around the room holding our daughter, not even hours old, and I was amazed at how natural you looked and how full my heart was to see you with her. The way you hold our daughter gingerly and stare at her, softly saying her name over and over. The way she quiets when you hold her even when she fusses for me. Your willingness to get up at the worst hours just to soothe her so that I can finally lay down and rest. Thank you for letting fatherhood come to you naturally and tenderly. 

And thank you for loving me through what feels like my crash landing into motherhood. You have cared for me gently and generously in the last few weeks. You have tended to me physically, making sure I'm not lifting or straining, making sure I'm drinking enough water and eating enough vegetables and even making sure I relax with much needed beer. You've held me when I am reduced to tears. You have not shied away when I have discussed at length my terribly un-glamorous postpartum body issues. You've encouraged me in every difficult moment of nursing, even when I am at my wits end and snapping at you in my frustration. And you are my biggest supporter every time the anxiety sweeps over me and I'm sure I can't hack it at this whole mother thing. 

Mostly though, you have given me the space to feel every feeling, even the ones that have come hard and fast and left me raw and vulnerable. You have created a safe space for me to say out loud everything that I am struggling with and every terrifying realization of how much I love this little person without offering solutions or getting overwhelmed by the magnitude of my emotions. Eva and I are both so needy right now and you are soothing us both in that stoic and quiet way that only you can. 

This is a precious and difficult season and I would not want anyone else by my side. 

Thank you. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

a thank you note to my mom. [part 2 of 3]

In the spirit of Thanksgiving this week, I am posting a three part series of thank you notes to some important people who have done so much to support me as I become a parent. Check back this week for the third note in my series. 

To my mom, 

Thank you for being here when I became a mother. Thank you for the months of phone calls about everything from cloth diapers to name choices while I was pregnant. Thank you for flying down to Florida, for taking a month out of your life to help me navigate mine. Thank you for the support you offered in labor, the back rubs and the pep talks, the knowing glances when a contraction would build and I feared I wouldn't make it through. Thank you for being there the moment my daughter was born, for holding my hand on the operating table and witnessing the moment I was born a mother. 

And thank you for the long hours spent on my couch in the weeks that have followed, in the afternoon and at three in the morning. Hours you have spent letting me wade through every feeling, every emotion that has crashed over me like endless waves in this terrifying new endeavor. You have sat without judgement and let me cry and name every fear and every frustration in that first overwhelming week. 

You listened and nodded when I held my fussing newborn to my bare breasts for what seemed like the hundredth time in the still of the early morning and wept about how I didn't want to be a mom, that I didn't know it would be this hard and now I wanted out. (Thank you for not laughing at my emotional ridiculousness in thinking I could just opt out of parenthood now. I guess it doesn't work that way.) You never told me to suck it up, you never rolled your eyes, you never trivialized my tantrums. I feel as though I've come crashing into motherhood and you've assured me that everything I'm experiencing is completely normal and will, in fact, get better. 

And thank you for celebrating the little milestones in the days and weeks that have followed; the first time I nursed in public without flashing everyone in the restaurant; the first time I didn't freak out when Eva started crying in public; the first time I felt rested after only a few measly hours of sleep. You have recognized and validated my deep need to maintain some sense of my old normal while embracing my new normal and I am deeply grateful for your encouragement. 

You are the best example I have of how to mother and I am so thankful you're on this journey with me. 

Thank you. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

a thank you note to our friends and family. [part 1 of 3]

In the spirit of Thanksgiving this week, I am posting a three part series of thank you notes to some important people who have done so much to support me as I become a parent. Check back this week for parts two and three. 

Eva says "Hooray for family and friends!"
To our friends and family,

Thank you for being our tribe and loving our daughter as much as we love her. Eva is joining a family that is rich in love and being welcomed by friends all over the country that adore her. She is so lucky. 

And we are so lucky to have you all. Your well wishes and phone calls and text messages in the hours after she was born felt like love was pouring into our hospital room from every corner of our lives. 

And the encouragement that I have received personally from friends and family near and far telling me that it's okay and it get easier has been a lifeline. I am beginning to think there is no better thing you can tell a brand new mom besides, "It gets easier. Hang in there." (Followed closely by, "You just had a baby? You look great!" This might be a complete lie, but every time someone says it, I want to hug them, even in the middle of the cereal aisle.) 

And the icing on the cake is that my closest friends and our families have been infinitely patient with my terrible lack of communication. They have a new niece that they are dying to see and I can hardly remember to brush my teeth, much less take and send pictures of the new little lady. I feel terrible for not keeping grandparents and aunts and uncles in the loop, but I haven't heard a single complaint and that means a lot to me. 

We've received meals and outfits and texts and so much love and support in the last three weeks, my heart is overflowing with gratitude. Every tough moment of this new season of our lives has been eclipsed by how much our little family is loved by our people. 

Thank you. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

the best laid plans.

My daughter's birth did not go to plan. 

This may not seem too significant, especially if you've given birth before. Babies tend to come when they're ready and they come however they are meant to come. This isn't news. Maybe what is significant is how important plans are for me. And this plan felt like the most important of them all. 

I've talked before about how the unknowns make me feel. When I face unknowns, I tend to do lots of research and come up with a game plan so that I feel somewhat in control of whatever lies ahead. My birth experience was the ultimate example of this. I spent almost every free moment of my pregnancy researching birthing methods and coming up with my birth plan. Every decision represented hours of time spent reading and asking questions to other moms and getting feedback from doula friends and nurse friends and poring over pregnancy forums. 

My birth plan specifics were simple; I wanted to be free to labor for however long it took my body and my baby without the staff suggesting augmentations or pain relief. I didn't want interventions. I didn't want pain relief. I wanted to be able to move around and choose positions that felt natural and be able to breathe my baby down. And I wanted her to be born into a calming atmosphere free of harsh lighting and loud voices. I wanted a sacred birth experience. 

And then I went into actual labor. And one by one my plans fell through. 

I was allowed to birth for however long it took, unfortunately she was taking far too long. She spent hours and hours making her way slowly and facing the wrong way, so every contraction brought intense back pain with it. Then the contractions were so powerful that her heart rate started dropping and I had to be given a medication that stopped my contractions in order to give her a break. Mine was not a gentle labor, it was intense and powerful and sometimes terribly frightening. We went several rounds of heart rate dropping then stabilizing, then a few hours and many powerful contractions later and I would get checked to see how far along I was and almost no progress would have been made.

I finally, reluctantly, requested an epidural that provided sweet relief, but limited my movement and my urge to push, so then I requested that it be turned off. Once it wore off, the contractions were so intense and her heart rate dipped so low that, somewhere in the fog of pain, I realized there were tubes and wires and a room full of people in scrubs staring at a heart rate monitor as nurses turned me and pulled me to find a position she could tolerate. The epidural went back on to give us both a break and finally, at the doctors gentle suggestion, we decided to deliver via cesarean. 

And just like that, my birth plan was over. And now, she would not be born into my gentle, quiet arms; she would be removed from me under the harsh light of an operating table by masked surgeons while I waited behind a curtain. My heart broke for all the plans that were crumbling around me and I wept for the unknown of a surgery and recovery that I had never even considered. I laid in that hospital bed with my Mom on one side and my husband on the other and wept. I cried because nothing had gone the way I had carefully planned. I cried because I felt like a failure, unable to push through the pain and birth my daughter like the warrior woman I had envisioned myself to be. I cried because I thought I was cheating my husband out of witnessing his first child's birth the way it was meant to be. I cried because I was exhausted and worn down and scared and even though I knew that it was the right thing to do for our daughter, it still felt so defeating. I cried because I thought her birth was no longer sacred. 

But there was one thing I could not have planned for: the moment I heard our daughter cry. 

In one singular moment, when I heard the sound I'd been waiting those long nine months to hear, every plan that fell through, every feeling of defeat and failure, every ounce of energy I had poured out that day, every aching muscle and my aching heart fell into a deep peace and suddenly none of it mattered. The sound of that robust cry coming from the other side of that blue curtain was my first sweet taste of motherhood and I drank it in with so much joy. Under the bright lights of an operating table, hooked to tubes and wires and in a room full of people in scrubs, I experienced the sacred birth I had hoped for and so much more.  

My daughter's birth did not go to plan. It was my crash course in my new life as a mother. It was the very beginning of balancing my plans for my daughter and for our life as parents with the harsh reality that sometimes, despite my best efforts, things just don't go as planned.  

But sometimes when the plans fall through and life happens the way it was meant to happen, it is more sacred and more beautiful than I could have imagined. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

seven days later.

A week ago today I was in labor. I'd been laboring gently for a full day and I knew it was finally going to be the day I met out daughter. I was anxious and nervous and wholly unprepared for the shifts my life would take in the week that lie ahead. 

That week and that girl feel like a lifetime ago. 

For me, this first week with a newborn is like wrapping up every single solitary emotion I've ever had and cracking them open one by one, over and over, and letting them drip raw over my heart. 

There is joy. Immeasurable, soul renewing joy. When I first heard the sound of my daughter's cry after hours of long and sometimes frightening labor. When I touch the downy soft hair on her head and breathe in that intoxicating newborn scent and I breathe in the knowledge that she's all mine. When people comment on how beautiful and how strong she is. When I sit with her in the still hours of the night while the rest of the world sleeps and I hear her little breaths, in and out, and I feel my heart swelling to the point of bursting to have this little person in my life. 

There is exhaustion. Emotional and physical exhaustion like I've never known before. In the mere hour or two after delivery when she cried out for food and I realized there would be no one else but me to feed her, even though I desperately wanted rest. In the moments after I've finally gotten her fed and I think of all the things I could get done in the two or three hours I have to myself; the shower I need and the friends I wish I could call and talk to, and all I want is those hours to be spent in deep restful sleep, a concept that seems foreign to me even as I write this. 

There is awe. I am awestruck at what my body did to nurture her for those nine months and then birth her, using every ounce of strength I had to bring her life into the world. When we look at her features, so much like her Daddy, and I marvel at how we created this little tiny human that is pieces of both of us and yet someone entirely new. When I feed her and I think of how my body is continuing to grow her, even noticing after this week her little belly growing rounder and fuller. 

There is fear. So much fear. Sheer terror at the thought that we are responsible for this person's every basic need and she looks to us implicitly for everything. Fear that clouds my reason and makes every decision, from how to swaddle her and the best way to ensure a good latch, feel like a life or death decision with dire consequences if we get it wrong. Fear that I am not equipped for this, for any of it, and there's been a mistake and her real, prepared mother should come and get her before I screw it all up. 

There is gratitude. Overflowing gratitude that she is healthy and I am healthy and that despite my long labor, she was born with no complications. Gratitude for my husband and my Mom, who are not only nurturing me and giving me all the space to let these raw emotions I'm feeling ebb and flow hour by hour, but who are doing all the things that still need to be done despite the presence of such a new, needy little life. 

Last week I was me and this week I am a mother. The weight of that felt crushing this week and there were moments and hours when I thought I might not be able to stand under it. But almost as intense is the incredible overwhelming joy I feel when I think of how lucky I am to get to be Eva's mother and that somehow God trusted me with her little life. So I'm taking the weeks one day at a time and letting the emotions come when they may and crack over me and having grace with myself in the meantime. 

The prevailing emotion today is relief that I made it through the first week of motherhood!

Monday, October 19, 2015

if you take a pregnant girl to target.

If you take a pregnant girl to Target, she's going to walk in and right away she's going to see the Starbucks and she's going to need a latte for the hard work ahead. And nothing makes her more happy than a Pumpkin Spice Latte while she roams the brightly lit aisles of the Happiest Place on Earth. 

Once she has her latte in hand, she'll head for the workout section, because she came to Target just for a pair of leggings to wear once the baby comes. Just a pair of leggings and then she'll go. 

She'll head to the workout section, but on the way, she'll see the home decor and remember that the nursery really needs a little love. I mean, how can she possibly raise a child in a  room with no decorations? She might pick up a few things to hang on the walls. 

When she thinks of the nursery, she'll remember she still needs to wash and organize all the baby's clothes and she needs a laundry basket for that. 

While she's imagining doing all that adorable new little baby laundry, she'll decide she should probably take a swing past the baby clothes just to see what's new since the last time she was in...

Once she's in the baby section, time will seem to stop and all sense of reason will cease because omigosh how cute is chambray for baby?! 

She'll decide that as long as she's here, she'll just take a stroll up each aisle and see what things she still needs. Then she'll realize the basket she is carrying will simply not hold all the things she absolutely needs and she'll go find a cart. 

On her way to find a cart, she'll get distracted by the Halloween decorations and she'll want to get things to carve a pumpkin! 

Once she gets the things she needs to carve a pumpkin for some fall fun, she'll look down at her belly and remember the big pumpkin growing inside her, getting ready to make her debut, and she'll decide she should probably pick up a few things to put in her hospital bag. 

Once she's in the health section she'll get completely overwhelmed and anxious by looking at nipple cream and tucks pads, so she'll just grab some witch hazel and hightail it out of there before she has a panic attack thinking about where she's going to need to put that witch hazel... 

Her quick retreat will lead her to the nail polishes, and she'll probably want to pick out a fun color to paint her nails and maybe a foot soak for her swollen feet to ease her troubles. 

Thinking about rest and relaxation before the baby comes will remind her that she should probably grab some comfy clothes for after baby arrives and that will remind her that she actually came to Target for a pair of leggings! 

She'll head over to the workout section, but just as she's making her way over there, she'll realize how tired she's getting from all this shopping. 

And she'll probably need another latte...

Friday, September 25, 2015

the best kind of surprise.

On Wednesday at work, right as we were getting ready for our department staff meeting, one of the therapists came into the meeting room and mentioned that we had a walk in client that needed to get scheduled for a counseling appointment. This is a regular and completely ordinary function of my job, so I left the staff meeting, grabbed the necessary paperwork, and followed her to the library, where she said the client was waiting and talking to another program director. 

When I walked into the library, expecting to see a waiting client, this happened.

That's right. There was no client. My sweet friend and coworker, Logan, had been weaving a web of lies and deception and planning me a surprise baby shower with all my coworkers. (And if you don't already know this about me, it's important to know that surprises are a special kind of love language for me. I am basically the real life version of Surprise Sue, so I rarely get the chance to pull off a good surprise. Being surprised, though? It sends me to the moon!) 

She decorated the library in chic black and gold and had all my favorite treats, like cupcakes and doughnuts from my favorite shop in Jacksonville. She had even written emails instructing the rest of the staff to park on the other side of the building if they were bringing a gift in because my office window looks over the other parking lot and I would have seen everyone coming in with gifts. She thought of everything and pulled it off seamlessly and I don't think I stopped smiling for a solid day!

But that's not the only surprise I've been treated to this week! On Saturday, Natalie, one of R and I's oldest college friends, asked if I wanted to get brunch and then maybe sit by her friend's pool for a couple of hours to soak up the last of the summer sun. She asked if R would be willing to watch her 11 month old while we were out, and much to my surprise, he said sure. So I planned on low key morning of catching up with her poolside and thought nothing more of it. 

Instead of driving to the brunch place though, she drove us out to the Spa at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club and informed me that we would be getting manicures and pedicures and then enjoying lunch at the spa cafe and lounging next to the pool here instead. We spent the entire day in spa robes, getting pampered and catching up with out even the hint of a schedule or an agenda. It was so relaxing and indulgent and such a wonderful afternoon of girl time!

You see, I'll be really honest. These surprises would have been so special all on their own, but last week I was feeling especially low. I was supposed to have a baby shower here in Jax, hosted by Natalie actually, and we ended up canceling it because only three people RSVP'd. There's no hit to your self esteem quite like only three people saying they'd like to come out and celebrate you and your baby. Now, I know we are loved by more than three people and there were some legitimate reasons that some people couldn't make it, but try explaining that to yourself when you're nine months pregnant and hormonal and feeling all the feels. 

And it wasn't so much about the shower or the turnout. It had a lot more to do with feeling alone in a pretty new and scary chapter of our lives. We're far from home and family and that means we are far from the people who you can usually count on to be real with. You know, the people who can come to your house and not judge it when it's messy or care if you've showered or not. The people who don't bat an eye when you get snippy with your husband in front of them because they've seen the good and the bad in you. The people who know how to help without asking and the people you go to when you need help that you feel nervous asking for. Those people, those friends and family that we all have that reside deep in the inner circles of our lives, are our tribe. 

And R and I are far from our tribe. 

So last week, when only three people RSVP'd to my shower, I felt really far from my tribe. I worried that when the going gets tough after our daughter is born, on the days when I really need to be able to ask for help or to be raw about how I am feeling, that I will be alone. 

A spa day and a sneaky surprise shower (and an upcoming brunch with some sweet girls from church) have shown me something important, though. It's not about showers and RSVP's and gifts. It's about who shows up when you need them. And I realized that though we are far from our long standing tribe, we've created a new tribe, too. It's made up of people who may not have known us in every season, but people who have gotten to know us in this season. It's made up of friendships we've taken with us on our travels, our friends from college and from Virginia and now Jax, who we've had the blessing of crossing paths with for a short time yet who have stuck with us for the long haul. 

And most importantly, this week, I realized it's made up of quality over quantity. 

Our new tribe might not be big. We might not have a huge turnout when we plan a shower, but I have a feeling that the ones who are here are here for better or for worse. After being surprised twice this week, I'm feeling the opposite of alone in this new mama season. I'm feeling deeply loved and cared for and blessed that there are friends who go out of their way to make sure I know I'm loved and cared for. 

And if you are reading this and you are responsible for planning a sneaky spa day or a clandestine work know who you are... then I hope you know that your effort and your planning spoke deeply to my heart. Thank you for being in my tribe. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

dear workout clothes: a love letter.

Dear Workout Clothes, 

Thank you. 

Thanks for being there for me during this pregnancy. You understand me. You understand my plight. And it's time to publicly acknowledge how how awesome you've been. 

I mean, my maxi dresses and leggings have been great, too. They don't care about the weight I'm gaining and they just keep on stretchin' to accommodate this little beach ball I'm toting around. And my palazzo pants are hanging in there like champs, playing along when I pretend that the Mediums are suitable when really I need to move it on up to a Large. I have a wonderful wardrobe of clothes, nay, friends. Is it wrong to call my clothes friends? Well if it is, then I don't want to be right. You guys are working overtime to help me look like Kim K Pregnancy #2 and less like Kim K Pregnancy #1. (Google it. Go ahead, I'll wait.) And for that, I thank you. 

But you go above and beyond, Workout Clothes. You don't stop at just accommodating my slowly accumulating pounds, you do so much more. 

When the heat index here in hell's sauna Florida creeps up into the hundreds, my maxi dresses fail me miserably. Thanks Maxi Dress, you might be cute, but the heat I'm generating and trapping from the waist down is enough to power a small vehicle and that's not really a claim to fame I'm comfortable with. And maternity shorts? You should be ashamed of yourselves. I don't care that as far as anyone can see, I'm just wearing simple denim shorts. You and I both know the truth about your full panel elastic that is pulled up to my rib cage and holding me in like a sausage casing, only much tighter and hotter. 

But you, Workout clothes, with your dry-fit material and your normal waistbands, are there for me on the especially hot days, just letting me sweat it out without so much as a pit stain. I don't have to worry about passing out in the Target parking lot because I tried to look cute in something less practical because you have my six and you're not gonna let that happen on your watch. You are the real heroes, Workout Clothes. 

And you don't stop there. 

You really bring it home by making it look like I'm actually going to work out! When I go to the grocery store with you, people look at me and think, "Wow, look at that pregnant lady in her workout clothes. Did she just run a 5K? Maybe she does yoga early in the morning and then just runs around town, doing her errands without sweating! She is truly an admirable woman and I would like to be more like her!" But we know better, don't we Workout Clothes? We know that I only look like I just came from spin class and really I'm only sporting this getup because my little pig hooves are too swollen for normal shoes and I can't afford to sweat through my third maxi dress today. So I throw you on and loosen the laces on my running shoes and we keep each others secrets as we drive through the McD's drive through for that Oreo McFlurry that I've been craving. You are the Bonnie to my Clyde, Workout Clothes. 

And I know you'll still be there postpartum when I'm sleep deprived and un-showered and covered in spit up. You won't judge when I decide to actually get back in shape, then think better of it and eat more McFlurries. And I know I'm not the only pregnant woman you're holding  it down for. You're out there, selflessly serving the mama's of the world, doing the thankless work that all wardrobe pieces should aspire to. 

Keep up the hard work, Workout Clothes. And thank you, from the bottom of my pregnant heart. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

the birds and the flowers and the unknowns.

The anxiety came fast and hard this week. 

Maybe you know the kind of anxiety I'm talking about. 

Maybe you're like me and the unknowns that lie ahead like shapes just beyond your reach are worrisome for you too. Maybe you are like me than you know the sense of security, albeit false, that you feel when the horizon is clear as far as you can see and the unknowns have named themselves and everything is within your control. 

I guess no one told me motherhood would be chock full of unknowns that simply will not name themselves. 

And this week I found myself updating my pregnancy app and reading all about how our daughter is as big as a butternut squash and how I only have 10 weeks of pregnancy left and the anxiety came flooding in fast and hard. 

Suddenly no amount of preparation emotionally or physically or in my home seemed like it would be enough to feel ready for this little person to make her arrival. Her nursery isn't finished and I haven't bought all the cloth diapers and I haven't been doing my breathing exercises and I felt inadequate and unprepared and scared for everything that lies ahead. And the unknowns of being the mother to this person threatened to undo me.

And then I felt her kicking inside me and I took a deep breath and I suddenly knew that I was more than equipped to be her mother and I felt an infinite peace wash over me and I knew everything would be okay somehow. 

Just kidding. That didn't happen at all. 

What actually happened was that I listened to a song that we sang at church this Sunday that sings lines from the old hymn "It is Well With My Soul" and I remembered that the last time I sang that song was at my Dad's funeral. And I ugly cried in the car on the way to work. 

As I listened to the words of the song,  I felt the familiar whisper deep in my heart ask, "Why do you worry about the future? Do the birds go to sleep fretting about what they'll eat tomorrow? Do the flowers in the field work themselves in a frenzy to bloom beautifully every day? No. I provide for the birds and the flowers. Aren't you worth so much more to me than birds and flowers? Don't you trust me?" And still an infinite peace did not wash over me. 

Instead I had a conversation with Jesus that I have so often that by now it should be a script that I just write down and keep in my pocket. He asks, "Aren't you worth more to me than the birds and the flowers? Don't you trust me?" And I respond honestly and say, "Sometimes I do, but sometimes I don't because I just want to be in control." And he says, "I know. But remember those times you have trusted me? Like when your Dad died? Remember the peace you felt when you let go of the need for control and just embraced the unknowns and trusted me deeply?" And I nod along and take a deep breath and finish ugly crying and get my act together.

This scenario is not new for me. Anxiety and the unknowns are shadowy presences that I work hard to keep from overwhelming me. And something tells me that this is an important conversation to have over and over and over again as I set out on the ultimate unknown of parenthood. 

And until I figure out how to ignore the question marks that lurk ahead and let infinite peace wash over me, I will keep it real and keep having this conversation and you can know that if you're anything like me and the anxiety comes hard and fast for you, too, that you're not alone. We are worth more than the birds and the flowers and we will be provided for and we gotta stick together and remind each other of that. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

six years: an open letter to my husband

Dear R, 

Today we've been married six years. I think back on the eve of our wedding six years ago. My girlfriends slept over at my apartment after the rehearsal dinner and made me a cake that said "Happy Night Before Your Wedding!" and we laughed and talked late into the night. We were the first of our group to get married and it felt like we had crossed the threshold into adulthood. I know now that getting married doesn't make you any more adult than learning to drive or being able to vote. It's the being married that's grown us. 

Now, six years later, you're in the office and your music is playing softly and my growing belly is full of fingers and toes that we created together and I feel content in our marriage in a way I couldn't have anticipated when I excitedly ate cake and talked about the future with my best girls that night six years ago. I thought marriage would fill me up and complete me, but what it's done is soften and humble me. It's taught me more about Jesus and grace than a thousand sermons ever could and I am thankful to learn those lessons with you. 

Being married to you is my favorite thing I've ever done. I am proud to be your wife. I am proud that you're my husband. I knew you were a good man when I held my finger out for you to slip on a ring, but I couldn't have ever known just how good you would be for me. You are even keeled and you are solid ground for me. You are well balanced and I crave your brand of strength. Most importantly, you are home to me. Where you are is where I feel safe and where I make sense of my world. I've become the woman I am because you give me space to grow upwards and outwards and you love me just the same no matter what. Thank you for that. And the icing on top is that you and I share a secret language and a secret humor that is uniquely ours. You can make me laugh like no one else can and I get to see a side of you that you share only with me. After six years and four moves and thousands of miles from where we first said I do, what we've created between us is more special to me than ever before. 

So here's to the last six years. Here's to however many more years we're lucky to have ahead of us. Here's to the next big chapter and the unknowns that lie foggy ahead and here's to the things that we have figured out so far. Happy Anniversary!

Your Wife

Friday, July 17, 2015

good grief.

Lately, we are crossing off items on the to-do list that is 'Preparing for Baby'. We are assembling nursery furniture and examining our finances and trying to imagine our home with a little person in it. And last week it overwhelmed me. 

The dilemma of space and furniture and sleeping arrangements in baby's first most needy weeks overwhelmed me to tears. The issue is that we are preparing our guest room to double as a nursery, however, for the first few weeks of her life, her Grandma P will be a guest in that room. So the solution is to move her crib and her changing area into our bedroom. Which seems like a straightforward task, right? Only, as I sat on my bed, tape measure in hand, examining our room and imagining a crib and diapers and a little baby, I grew hot with anxiety. 

This was MY space. This was my bedroom, my corner of the world where I retreated when I needed refuge. This was my haven with my husband, our little island where intimacy was created and nurtured, where we have long talks that can sometimes only be had after the lights have gone out and we're safe under the covers. My bedroom is where I dance to salsa music when I'm alone or where I examine my undressed body in the mirror away from anyone else's eyes, or where I make messes out of clothing when I'm headed out with the girls, then conveniently shut the door to the whole thing when company comes over rather than clean it up. My bedroom is quite literally the place in the world where I feel the safest.

And someone new was going to live in here.

Someone needy and someone desperate for my attention and someone who, frankly, as much as some moms may cast a side eye at me for saying this, I anticipate needing  retreat from once in a while. And my anxiety grew hot as I realized that I would need to share my safe place. 

And do you know what? It made me sad. I wish I could say that imagining my tiny newborn girl nestled in her crib just an arms reach from my bed filled me with an idyllic sense of calm and joy and I smiled longingly at my now child-free room and then a soundtrack of beautiful music swelled in the background. But I'd be lying. Instead I had a mini-panic attack and my face grew hot and I threw the tape measure and buried my head in the pillows and I cried hot tears that came from a place losing a little bit of my self to this new person. 

And I did something I've been doing more often when these feeling well up and overwhelm me. Instead of feeling guilty for being selfish with my space, instead of chastising myself for not feeling all-encompassing joy at the prospect of a new addition to my life, instead of comparing myself to mothers who seem to float seamlessly into the world of motherhood, I gave myself permission to grieve. 

I gave myself permission to grieve for a moment the loss of a corner of my world that would forever change when this little person arrived. I cried and felt scared and gave myself time to name the feeling. I let the tears fall and sank deeper into the pillows and just let the feeling of change, big scary change, wash over me because sometimes that's the only thing I can do. 

Then I looked at my room, blessedly free of anything child related and sighed the deep sigh and ran my hands over my belly, with its skin taut and tiny fingers and toes nestled inside. And my heart grew taut too as I realized that this is becoming a mother. This is making room for my daughter. To grieve and grow and let new and scary changes wash over me and to give myself grace in it is becoming someone new. It's becoming a mother. And I laid on my bed, my island of refuge, and cradled my belly, my daughter, and knew that I would not regret any of it. I will make room for this person in my home and in my life and it is good. I will move her crib in and she will share in the space of refuge that we've created here and it will be a new season for me. No music will swell in the background as I do it and there is some pain in the growing, but it is good.