I’m Still Around!

3

I thought that I should write a quick post to let you all know that I – and the family – are doing very well!  :)  Life just got crazy busy, and I had to cut back on blogging and a few extra things.  The past day or so have been better, but I’ve just been too tired to form sentences, never mind try to write a blog post that made any sense at all.  ;)

BUT I have so much to tell you!!!  So hopefully I’ll be back to blogging next week!  I promise that I will do my best.  :)

I’ve missed ‘chatting’ with you!

A Monday Vlog

7

Sarah and I went on our first sister adventure since I had the baby, and we had a blast!  :)  It was very much needed, for sure!

One Step At a Time

5

Since becoming a mom, learning to not over-commit or sweat the small stuff hasn’t been easy for me.

I do feel as though I’m starting to get the hang of it though! I mean, when it comes to finding a healthy balance between family and giving of my time to others, I’m a work in progress, as I’ve mentioned before in previous blog posts. And that progress is slow. But if slow and steady wins the race, then you might as well hand me that medal now! :)

Just this past weekend, Nate and I invited my best friend Ashley and her husband Ryan to the house for a BBQ. As usual, I had a meal all planned out in my head, and – I have to say – that it was a rather pretty spread.

But one thing I didn’t consider was the fact that I have a five month old. ;) And I very quickly realized , as usual, that the only way I was going to put together the spread of food that I envisioned was to not spend the time with him I really wanted to. That I really needed to.

So for the first time in my entertaining history, I bought packaged cookies… Yes, I spent a bit of time arranging fresh veggies into a pretty arrangement, but that was it. Nate took over the grilling. Ashley and her hubby brought the sweet potato fries and salad. And I bought a box of Enjoy Life cookies instead of spending an afternoon baking, as I normally would have.

When I grabbed the package off the store shelves, I was fairly certain that I was going to be struck by lightning. ;) But I wasn’t. And as a result, I was able to enjoy a special afternoon with my teething baby (who really wanted his mom’s comforting arms).

Still, I’m a work in progress… I texted my friend to ‘warn’ her that I had packaged cookies for dessert, telling her that I wouldn’t worry about it so much if it was all up front that I hadn’t baked. Ha, ha! Because really, I was kind of worried about it.  Nate said that earned me a ‘B-‘, but that he’s proud of the progress I’ve made. ;)

As for the BBQ? We had a blast! And those Enjoy Life cookies were quite yummy, if I do say so myself! :)

Duffy!

1

Brady loves his Duffy almost as much as I love chocolate…  Almost.

Oh, and that high-pitched squeal he’s doing in the video?  It’s his new favorite thing to do.  It was cute the first 30 times he did it…  ;)  At this point in time, however, I’m seriously contemplating saving up for a good set of headphones.  Wow, he can sure hit some high notes!  :)

When Two Become Three – Part 2

6

I can’t even remember exactly what happened on that particular night, and – honestly – I don’t think it matters for blog purposes anyway.  Nate had done something that I felt was selfish and that left me feeling like I was balancing this parent thing on my own. (Which I’m obviously not, because I do have an amazing man standing by me!  But try telling that to the sleep-deprived, exhausted version of myself). ;)

So, in response to what had just happened, I looked baby Brady in the eyes and said, “Your dad is a jerk sometimes.”

Ugh, I’m so ashamed to even admit that… :(   And even in the moment, I instantly gasped. First of all, I had called Nate a ‘jerk’ (which is basically a slap in the face coming from me, because I have a smiley, bubbly personality and am more on the soft-spoken side. I don’t talk to anyone that way, especially not my husband). Secondly, I had broken our first rule of parenting. We had promised to never put down the other parent to – or in front of – our child. And even though Brady obviously can’t understand English yet, I was still stepping over a dangerous line.

I was horrified the minute it left my mouth. And Nate was horrified too, but more horrified with himself when he realized why I had called him that in the first place. Quite frankly, we were both ashamed, because this isn’t how we treat each other… ever.  But man, it’s amazing how Dr. Jekyll can be pulled out of you, when your precious baby is crying nonstop and leaving you more tired than you thought imaginable.

“I know it’s not true, but sometimes I feel so alone,” I whispered. Shoulders slumped. Tears streaming down my face.  Baby screaming in the background.

I’ll never forget… Nate came up behind me, wrapped me in his arms, and whispered into my ears, “I want you, I love you, I need you. And I’m SO sorry if I don’t make you feel that way every single day.”

I melted, not from the eloquence of his words but because I knew how much he meant them.

And instantly, we were good.  Or at least much better.  The stress, fear, and sense of drowning all hid behind a dark curtain – if only for a minute – and we were reminded of our love.  We were reminded of who we are together, as best friends, and as soulmates.  We were reminded of just how strong we are when we’re in each other’s arms.

We remembered that we are on the same team!

And it suddenly occurred to me how easy it is to go through the ‘motions of love’, when you’re a new parent.  Your free moments are – well – nonexistent.  Saying ‘I love you’ or kissing before bed can so easily lose their meaning, because you’re exhausted.  Sometimes, the spoken words or the peck on the lips just become things you do…

And WOW is it scary easy to just start ‘going with the flow’ and forgetting about each other in your efforts to pour love into a mini version of youselves.

So maybe that’s what it takes sometimes. It takes a little hurricane and a little explosion of feelings to make sure that you’re both communicating beyond the ‘canned’, expected expressions of love. Because trust me, in the thick of it, it’s sometimes easy to hold all that stress in, before you slip on the boxing gloves and begin to flail at whoever is standing close to you. (Granted, it’s best if you can communicate and avoid the tense, hurt feelings to begin with.  But at the end of the day, we are just human, and the struggle is so very real some days).

I’m learning to go beyond ‘I love you’, unless that ‘I love you’ is said with all the warmth and feeling it truly means.  :)  I go further into expressing ‘why’ I love him…  To say, “Wow, I needed your arms around me tonight.”  Or “You are such a good daddy!”  Or even little flirtatious comments that remind us to take time for the romance too.  :)

Just this morning, Nate told Brady (within earshot of me), “You and I are so lucky to have Mommy, aren’t we?”

And as simple as it may sound, it meant the world to me.  I totally needed that.  I needed to be reminded that I’m appreciated, and that my husband really does love me.

Because even if you might know it already, trust me, as new parents you need to hear it a lot in order to combat the craziness!

Sometimes it’s that simple.

Sometimes it’s making sure you hold each other’s hands in the car…  Or that you sneak up behind them for a hug…  Or that you wake them up with a kiss.

Those little things sure do add up.

And it also takes a very strong effort to make sure you’re both having a bit of time for each other.  It’s not easy…  But it has to happen!

Gosh, we love Brady so much that we honestly wouldn’t go back to the days before him. Because as amazing as those days were, you just can’t put a price on the love you have for your child once you become a parent. I’m serious! To any expectant parents out there reading this and who might be freaking out right about now, I promise you this: you will not regret the change. Nothing could prepare you for it. But then once your baby arrives, the love you feel is so strong that you can’t imagine life without your beautiful baby. You wouldn’t want to imagine that life.

Life suddenly means so much more!

Nate and I have amazing days as parents, and we still have rough days. I was actually a little snippy just this morning, as baby Brady has decided that naptime is overrated.  ;)  But the thing that never changes is that we love each other. We’re still best friends. We’re happy.

Honest to goodness, we’re happy!

AND, maybe most importantly, we’ve learned to say “I’m sorry.”  I’ve also learned to be open and honest with Nate in ways I never have before…  If I wake up feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotional, I tell Nate right off the bat.  I realize that he can’t read my mind, so I tell him what I’m feeling.  He then showers me with the support – physical and emotional – that I need throughout the day.  And I do the same for him.

So even if we’re not “there” yet (as if that place actually exists), I’m super proud of how we’re doing… and of how we always bounce back together after the tough moments that might threaten to pull us apart a bit.

We’re learning. We’re constantly learning what the new normal will be for us and how to make sure we’re spending quality time together. …how to nurture our relationship while caring for our little guy.

So to anyone expecting their first child (or already living in the middle of it), I say this… There will be rough patches, but don’t step into parenthood with fear. Face it with excitement, honesty, and expectation. Realize that it will challenge you, but that the challenge will be worth it. Just as you didn’t wake up nine months pregnant, the journey through parenthood will be one step at a time. One month at a time. One day at a time. You’ll learn along the way; you’ll grow along the way.

Soon enough, you won’t be getting up every two hours, changing diapers every three, and wondering how in the world one tiny little baby can have so much gas. ;)  You’ll be sending your baby off to college, facing a quiet home, and wondering what you’ll do now that it’s just the two of you. That’s life. It’s all about change.

And while it’s easy to fight that change, it’s so much more exciting to learn from the good (and the bad) and to view it all as an adventure… An adventure that you can experience together! (I mean, how boring would this blog be if life was easy and predictable, am I right!?!). :)

Yeah, there have been hard days. And I’m not naïve in thinking that those hard days are all behind us…  But I can honestly tell you that I love Nate even more today than I did when we said “I do”. And I love my little family so much more than I can put into words. So I’d face those fears all over again in a heartbeat.

It really is SO very worth it!

When Two Become Three – Part I

9

One of the things that scared me the most towards the end of my pregnancy wasn’t the thought of labor or even the fear of bringing a newborn baby home. (I mean, don’t get me wrong, both filled me with a healthy dose of fear on occasion). ;) But for me, the ultimate fear (one that I kept hidden for the most part) was that that the newest addition to our family might negatively influence my marriage. I had heard the stories. I had read the books. And after spending six beautiful years with my best friend and soulmate, I ached at the thought of anything coming between us.

I ached at the thought of change.

Nate and I had traveled together… We had purchased our first home… We went on dates often and just enjoyed the simple pleasures of life. We talked, snuggled, laughed, and spent so much time together without ever getting tired of it.  I wouldn’t have changed a thing about our marriage up until that point, and I was saddened at the thought of marriage as I knew it ending.

We both faced parenthood with the realization that marriage was now going to take more work. We were going to be a family of three, not two; so time together wouldn’t be as readily available. Because of this, we made plans ahead of time to communicate. To make time for each other. To go on dates.

We faced that change head on, so that we would be okay!

And for the first few weeks, we were. In fact, we were more than okay. Nate took on this gentler, care-giving side that I hadn’t even known existed. He’s always been really sensitive to my feelings; but he’s generally a typical, clueless guy when I’m sick in bed. ;)  However, during my first few weeks home from the hospital, it’s as though he channeled my mom! He prepared all the meals, constantly made sure there were beverages and snacks by my bedside, and – when he saw that I was doing a little bit too much – he banned me to the bedroom for a day of watching television, caring for baby, and recovering from the C-section. He even insisted on changing all the diapers himself, as he knew that learning how to breastfeed was such a huge task for me.

He was so unbelievably sweet!

He was nurturing in a way that made me cry from pure relief. He was absolutely everything I needed him to be, and – quite honestly – I felt as though we had never been so much in love. We’d snuggle together with our precious bundle of joy between us; and I had to wipe tears from my face, because I was just so happy.

As weeks turned into months, however, the strain of little sleep and long, busy days began to take its toll.   Every baby comes with its own set of challenges, but even the simple task of feeding Brady was overwhelming. Around two weeks old, he had gas issues that we couldn’t figure out, and he spent hours and hours screaming inconsolably from the pain. He vomited.. a lot. He wouldn’t nap or sleep. I woke up every two hours throughout the night, sometimes more, to feed him.  To rock him.  To walk him around the room, hoping he might find some comfort.

And quite frankly, it wore at our nerves, especially since everything within us ached to help our baby feel better. But we couldn’t.

So we began to take it out on each other…

If Brady’s screams rose to a level that I emotionally couldn’t handle while Nate was holding him, I’d snap, “Nate, what are you doing?”

To which Nate would reply in frustration, “I don’t know! I don’t know what I’m doing. I can’t help him. What do you want me to do?”

We were strained, exhausted, and busy in ways we never could have imagined. It all felt so much bigger than us. And so gradually, day by day, despite our determination to not let ‘that’ happen to us, our focus began to shift to survival. We’d go days without a kiss, and – even then – the kiss would be a quick peck. I suddenly couldn’t remember the last time we had hugged… Intimacy, what was that? And since I was nursing and caring for a baby that was constantly choking on his acid reflux (in addition to getting up every two hours), that little baby soon began to sleep between us. We didn’t even have the evening hours to cuddle together.

One day, it all just seemed to come to a head… (to be continued)

Slow It Down

10

I have a problem!  And it ends now!  Or, well, at least my journey to end it begins now.  ;)  I’m not sure if this is something that I can quit cold turkey.  But I’m sure going to try, that’s for sure!

I overbook myself.

I overcommit.  I have too many goals, and projects, and tasks.

And once upon a time, I could balance it all (barely, but – you know – it’s amazing how much you can squeeze into a day, as long as you keep yourself caffeinated enough).  So I baked cookies for the neighbor who just moved in.  And I cooked casseroles for the family going through a tough time.  I made sure my house was spotless, I volunteered for outreaches in the community, I exercised, I blogged, I read, and I hung out with friends.

If someone came to visit, I had to serve a freshly baked banana bread with their coffee.  If I was making someone a casserole, I needed to prepare a dessert – from scratch – to go with it.  Dinner each night had to be healthy and homemade.  Grandparents had to be visited every week, a lonely acquaintance needed regular phonecalls, and church needed volunteers for events.

I was superwoman…

And then I had a baby.

And then my perfectly organized life was shaken a few times before being tipped upside down.  In a good way!  But in a way that doesn’t leave time for all those things, unless I’m willing to sacrifice time spent with my little guy.  And I’m not willing to do that.

Just last week, I found myself asking my hubby Nate to watch the baby for me. Just one more time. Just for one more hour. This would be quick.

Then something happened… When I handed Brady over, he began to cry. Now he loves his daddy, and Nate can make him smile like no one else can. But at only four months old, Brady was reaching a chubby fist in my direction as if to say, “I miss you mommy.”

I died a little inside, when I realized just how busy I had been… and just how little quality time I had spent with my boy.

I realized that I had been SO busy that week trying to be there for others that I hadn’t been there for Brady.  (At least not in the way I should have been there for him). I thought that I could do it all, but I couldn’t. I can’t. I’m only human, and I have to make choices sometimes.

My friend Liz, knowing how much I struggle with this, sent me this amazing Pin the other night. It’s SO me. It needs to be hung up in my house, where I see it every morning. Because I let myself feel guilty whenever I say ‘no’. I feel as though I need to always help out when there’s a need, as though everything rests on my shoulders.  I feel as though everything needs to be ‘perfect’ all the time.

And guess what, the world doesn’t rest on my shoulders. Quite frankly, I’m not that important. The world will keep on spinning if I can’t bake a sweet bread for every visitor or if I’m unable to volunteer for every event.  The sun will come out if I have to serve something frozen for dinner!   Sure, I was doing really great things sometimes, but – at the end of the day – at what expense? I had convinced myself that I should feel guilty and ashamed if I couldn’t keep up, when it really should be about finding that balance.

Finding a balance that allows me to still give of my time but that won’t stretch me so thin that I find myself too busy to play with my precious tater tot. :) I can’t juggle what I once did, because I’m a mommy now. So things have changed… And that’s okay.

Needless to say, I know full well that things need to change. So I promised Nate that things would change this month…  He and the baby will be my first priority. And then I’ll even make a little time for me, making sure that I can blog sometimes (because it’s crazy important to me) and hang out with friends who refresh me. And then I’ll budget out time to also give back and to help others in need.

But it’s true… As a mom – and as a human – I can’t do everything. And there’s no need to feel guilty about that! :)

Does anyone else struggle with this?

HAVE done much better this week, and Brady is a happy boy because of it!  :)

What Doesn’t Kill You…

17

Sooooo, before I get to the blog post, I have to say thank you for sticking around even though I don’t blog all that regularly these days.  I’m trying to get myself into something of a rhythm, but it hasn’t happened yet.  ;)  The little guy just started teething, and he’s never really been one to nap well.  So this mommy has VERY little free time…  But it’s all for a season; and hopefully by this summer, I’ll be writing up a storm and documenting our family adventures!  (AND I hope to document some of my own adventures too…  I’m realizing that mommy needs some fun time of her own once in awhile).  :)  But for now, yeah, thanks for sticking with me and my little blog!  You all rock!!


If you were to ask me what the toughest part of being a mom so far has been, I’d have to say ‘breastfeeding’.  Oh, man, it’s been a challenge.  Like for something that’s supposed to be so natural, why is it so hard?  Sometimes I wonder, why does my body hate me so?  Why can’t my breasts work like faucets that I can just turn on and off, when needed?  (I mean, wouldn’t that be convenient? I could fill up a pail in the morning and then not worry about it for the following 24 hours).

Instead, I am the milk maid on tap.  I feed on demand, which is a daunting task when your chunky monkey decides that he is going to demand milk every two hours…. 24/7.  (Yes, I have been waking up every two hours for the past 4 months, and I’ve taken about 5 naps in total.  So thank God for under-eye creams that hide the circles, or else I’d probably scare small children).  Every once in awhile, Brady will go a 3-hour stretch without eating. I don’t know what to do with myself on those days, I’m just so excited.

Seriously, I can’t keep up with the amount of liquids and food that I need to ingest during the course of a day.  That’s what happens when you’re feeding a four-month-old who’s nearing 22 pounds.  And it wouldn’t be so bad if I could eat all of my favorite foods, but my baby boy has a sensitive tummy.  So as of Christmas Eve 2014, I’ve had to give up eggs (except for in extreme moderation), nuts, fish, all gassy veggies, pineapple, citrus, dairy, and soy.

 That’s tough for anyone, but particularly difficult when you’re a foodie.

Oh, and then there was the incident with the plumber…  It’s too soon to blog about, but let’s just say that I now have an answer to the ‘what was the most embarrassing moment of your life’ question, should anyone ask.

Awhile back, not so long ago, I had told my husband that I want a T-shirt that reads, “Breastfeeding sucks… literally.”  He said that was a bad idea for several reasons.  One, ‘sucks’ is not really a nice word, especially now that I’m trying to set a good example for Brady.  (Why is my husband so much more mature than me sometimes??).  Secondly, there’s a very large movement to support breastfeeding moms (a movement that I fully support).  So – you know – that kind of apparel would go against it, and – he’s right – I don’t want to go against such an important cause.
So needless to say, I’ve changed my mind about wanting that T-shirt.  Mostly…

It’s just been hard.  Frustrating.  Confusing.  And exhausting, painful, and overwhelming.

But then there are moments…
Moments when the doctor praises my efforts, because my baby boy is gaining weight so well.  Moments when I read an article about the health benefits of nursing.  Moments when Brady looks up into my eyes while I’m feeding him, and he smiles.  When I snuggle him close to feed him, and he falls asleep.   When he’s scared or in pain and it takes nothing more than that nourishing closeness to help calm him.
When I realize that I – like every other mother out there, breastfeeding or not – am doing whatever I can to raise a healthy, strong child…
Those moments…  Those moments open my eyes for a moment into why so many women are passionate about it.  Why they call it beautiful.  Because it is beautiful really.  An exhausting, painful, overwhelming type of beautiful that is hard… but so unbelievably worth it.  :)