The Third Trimester Life

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Have you seen those memes that say something to the affect of “When you’re pregnant, shaving your legs is an Olympic Sport”?  I always thought that meme was funny.  Maybe even clever.

But now that I’m three and a half weeks from my due date, I’m not finding it so humorous.  😉  Forget shaving…  I can barely handle putting on my pants.  Between  Kaitlyn practicing future ballet moves and digging her chubby toes into my ribcage, the sciatica that’s sending intense pain down my lower back and legs, the exhaustion and breathlessness of anemia, and the ginormous belly?  I can’t bend or get comfortable or walk.  I’m at the point that I have to sit down to just put on my makeup, because I don’t have the energy to stand.  I have to sit down to prepare dinner.  I have to sit down to put on my shoes.

I even have to sit down to eat chocolate if I want to enjoy it!

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I do have this really awesome, penguin waddle going on though.  It’s totally sexy.  I feel like a confident, watermelon-toting Victoria’s Secret model marching down the runway.  Nate seriously can’t take his eyes off me…  (Although I have my suspicions that he’s sympathetically grimacing in pain while he watches me hobble by.  My belly looks as heavy as it feels these days.  I’ve officially passed the cute stage…  left behind the watermelon smuggler phase…  and now I’m entering blimp territory).   

I don’t even know how it’s possible that the 9 months aren’t up yet.  This third trimester really has been never-ending.

50 Funny Pregnancy Memes That Will Make You Pee Without Even Sneezing:

However, during this time, I’ve also mastered the art of kicking things into the air and catching them, which is quite impressive.  Bending down to pick things up is SO two months ago.  Even Brady is in awe of my mad reflexes.  I’m thinking of submitting a tape of myself and applying for America Ninja Warrior.  (I’ll bet being a mom has prepared me for most of the obstacles.  As for the warped wall, all they need to do is put a cup of iced coffee at the top, and – let me tell you – I’d make it up there in record speed.  Not even sure if my sneakers would need to touch the ground to get me up there…).

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In all seriousness though, this pregnancy has been completely different than my pregnancy with Brady.  I was so energized and active during that third trimester.   Of course, in between the energized activity, I did have time to nap and rest.  That doesn’t happen these days…  This time around, things have been much harder, because I’m constantly chasing after an ever-energetic little tyke.  (I feel like I’m even chasing him during the moments that I’m sitting down to pee.  I don’t know how that’s humanly possible, but – trust me – I do it.  Bathroom breaks are seriously no longer breaks…  It’s like trying to relieve yourself while being locked in a restroom with a wild monkey).  

Thanks to the added exhaustion and physical exertion, my body doesn’t seem to want to cooperate, resulting in more uncomfortable and painful pregnancy symptoms than last time.  And most times, my strong-willed toddler cooperates just as well.  😉   His favorite words right now are “in five minutes, Mama” or “no thanks.”

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The more I reply with “No, Mama, needs you to listen now,” the more he seems to retreat into his little toddler world of Mickey Mouse, icecream, bubbles, and puppies.  Seriously, men get a bad rap for selective hearing, but toddlers have turned that into an art.  They really do live in their own little world!  I say “green beans,” and he hears “icecream”.  I say “time to change your bum,” and he hears “time to dump out all the blocks and play.”  I say “time to put your coat on,” and he hears “let’s dance”.

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It’s a good thing that he’s cute, lovable, absolutely hilarious, and my entire world.  Because he’d be in trouble otherwise.  But, you know, despite the insanity, I just can’t imagine my long, exhausting days without him!  And he really is SUCH a good little boy.  He’s just, well, a toddler.  We’ve all had to go through that stage and drive our mothers a little crazy.  It’s like a requirement for growing up…

But yes, three and a half weeks.  That’s it.  That’s all that’s standing between me and meeting my precious baby girl.  And then, this will ALL be worth it… right down to the hairy legs, swollen feet, and out-of-control hormones.

For now, I’m going to do my best to see the humor.  To focus on our beautiful prize.  To be the best preggo mom that I can possibly be.  And to practice that sexy penguin waddle.  After putting in all this effort to learn it, I don’t want to forget how to do it just because I’m not pregnant anymore!  😉

50 Funny Pregnancy Memes That Will Make You Pee Without Even Sneezing:

Pregnancy is SUCH a blessing…  but it’s also a tough – often uncomfortable – journey.  Do you have a funny pregnancy story to share?

 

 

When Being Mommy Hurts

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There’s no easy way to explain the fierce love that a woman experiences when she becomes a mom.  I was trying to explain it to Nate the other day, and he kind of just looked at me with a slightly confused (or maybe concerned) look on his face.  It just doesn’t make sense when you’re trying to explain it.  But to a mom, it’s reality.  And quite frankly, to every mom reading this, I needn’t go on.  They know what I’m talking about already.

They just get it.

I guess if I were absolutely required to express these emotions and feelings with the help of words, I would say this:  when I became a mom, it was as though a small, treasured piece of me left my body.  And that piece of my heart began to beat on its own, protected only by a beautiful, tiny person that it now lived in.

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This happened the moment I set eyes on my baby boy.  Suddenly, my own self came second.  My whole world (my whole need to protect, and nurture, and care) began to revolve around someone else.  But it didn’t feel like self-sacrifice.

Because that little someone else was a piece of me.

When Brady was in my womb, I constantly prayed over him, worrying about every little thing that could go wrong, and dreamed about the day that he was born.  Then, and only then, would I stop worrying; because then I would physically be able to hold my perfect baby boy in my arms.  Then I could physically protect him with my super-human, mommy strength  and always know that he was okay.  Because I would make sure that he was okay.

But once he was born, I quickly realized that my womb had been a safer place than this world we call home could ever be.  At least then I could carry him in perfect warmth and protection.  At least there, no hurtful words or angry bullies or harmful environments could touch him.  He was safe inside his mommy, soothed to sleep by the sound of my voice and rocking of my movements.

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But suddenly, he was living in this often hurtful, cruel world.  Suddenly, that small piece of me was detached and wasn’t always with me.  Suddenly, I was forced to sometimes leave that piece of my heart with someone else and to trust that he was being cared for the way that I would care for him.

It’s terrifying.  Absolutely terrifying.

My little guy is only two, but there have already been moments that have made me want to whisk him away to a safe place where nothing hurtful can ever touch him.  Kids have already been mean…  He has already faced challenges that made me want to swoop in and solve a problem that he needs to solve himself.  He has learned that sometimes life hurts.

But he is still so sweet and innocent.  Still such a baby.

As he grows, I will have to learn to slowly let go.  To trust that I raised him to be confident, even when the bullies taunt.  To know that God will continue to guide him, even when he isn’t snuggled in my arms for a Bible story.  I will have to be strong enough to let him take flight on his own, knowing that I taught him right from wrong.

As a mom, I look back on my own life with a new sense of respect for everything my parents faced, from letting me cry when my first job overwhelmed me to letting me travel thousands of miles away from home for college.  They knew that fire makes gold burn only brighter.  They knew that those hard moments were only molding me into a stronger, bolder, more confident woman.  They knew that quitting wasn’t an option, and so they guided me and stood with me.  But they didn’t hide me.

They held my hand and let me step out, so that I could learn to shine.

I’ve already come to realize that being mommy is going to hurt sometimes.  Because that little someone who holds a piece of me will hurt sometimes.  And every fiber of my being will scream out to protect and shelter.  But sometimes I’ll have to let go of my baby’s hand, even if it may result in cuts and bruises.  Sometimes I’ll have to trust him to someone else’s care, so that he can learn independence.  I’ll have to watch him attempt challenges that test his endurance, patience, and will.  And sometimes, I’ll have to watch him take a leap, even if he may fall.

Because he may also be ready to fly.

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He’s only two, but I already know just how hard it will be for me to ever see my little guy struggle or hurt.  But at the same time, I also know that the hard moments only strengthen us and prepare us to be strong.  To be confident.  To be leaders.

Sometimes, it’s the tough moments that propel us to greatness and to a more meaningful life than we could have imagined.

One thing I know for sure is this…  As fiercely as I love my baby boy, there is One who loves him even more.  And so I can only raise him the best I can and then trust him into the arms of the Savior who can – and will – always be with him.

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A Toddler on Vacation

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It was only 15-20 minutes into the drive of our mini-vacation getaway, and the concern started to set in.  What had we gotten ourselves into?  I mean, I had known that Brady started to call out, “Go walk?”  And “All done!”  And *insert high-pitched screaming noises that make you want to bury your head under a thousand pillows, except you’re stuck in a car for another 2 hours*.

Stopping for dinner wasn’t much easier…  Looking back, trying to convince a 19 month old to sit still in a highchair after he’s been locked in a carseat for 2 hours probably wasn’t the smartest of ideas.  But we were hungry.  And Friendlys is the happiest place for kids of all ages, right?

(I got him to smile for this photo, even if I had to cheat and tickle him a bit).

Brady, apparently, wasn’t happy enough for Friendlys.  He tossed crayons.  Grabbed for anyone walking past us.  Whined, tried to get out of the chair, and threw a small tantrum.  (According to my doctor, the negativity and even slight aggression is very common at this age, as toddlers test out their parent’s authority and their own emotions.  But going through it in the moment, that isn’t always reassuring enough).  😉

Brady also discovered that if he throws chunks of grilled cheese hard enough, it gets stuck in my hair.

The kid has impeccable aim.  (I left the restaurant with enough crumbs in my hair to feed Fievel’s family for a week).

I thought I’d planned brilliantly by coming up with fun, toddler-approved activities while still leaving enough free time for relaxing, napping, snacking, and exploring at a little one’s pace.  But if something can go wrong when you’re on vacation with a toddler, it will.  And there is nothing more horrifying than being stuck in a hotel room at 5am with a screaming 19 month old who won’t be soothed.

(You know the people that you don’t want to be renting a room near in the hotel, because their child makes a ton of noise first thing in the morning?  We were those people…  I apologize to the people renting the hotel rooms on either side of us).

On our first (and only) full day, the beach had been on the agenda.  It rained shortly after arrival, but we were able to squeeze in some quality time in the sand and waves.  It was most definitely the highlight of our trip!  Brady loved running along the sand, chasing seagulls, and dipping his toes into the ice-cold water.  (And, well, you all already know how much I adore the ocean…).

Since it was still very early, and since Brady had successfully taken a 3 hour nap, we decided to go to the Aquarium that afternoon.  The kid is obsessed with fishies and could spend all day at Petco watching them swim around.  I’d been excited about taking him to the aquarium for weeks!  

Apparently he just has a thing for Petco fish though…  We paid $70 to get into the aquarium, and he insisted on leaving 15-20 minutes into the visit (after whining the entire time for food, even though we had just eaten lunch).

Hmmmm, who forgot to pack the snack bag???

I really couldn’t believe it!  I mean, we were standing in front of a ginormous tank, when this swam by…

Oops, wrong picture.

…this swam by!

My breath was taken away at seeing such a magnificent, large creature up close.  Brady, on the other hand, decided that he wasn’t interested.  So we set out to find the clock that had captured his attention, completely ignoring the whale, penguins, seals, brightly colored fish…and sharks!

It’s okay, Brady.  I get hangry sometimes too!

Thank goodness for general stores that sell popsicles AND fresh, fried dough.  Like the beach, this was a win-win for all parties involved.

That night, when back at the hotel and trying to unwind a toddler who was bouncing off the hotel walls, we received a call from the lawyer who’s handling Nate’s disability case. She told us that Nate had a mandatory meeting in the city the next day.  We had to go home a day early.

I was part devastated… and part relieved, since Brady had been throwing tantrums and whining all day.  Nate, meanwhile, canceled our hotel for August, because Brady just isn’t ready for travel.  Or maybe we aren’t ready for travel with Brady…  😉  Either way, we decided that we’ll go away one night in October instead for our anniversary (since my mom is willing to watch Brady).

But Nate will stay home in August, and I’ll travel with my sister to the 5k I’ve already signed up for.

 

I love Brady more than anything on this earth and having him was the greatest miracle we’ve ever experienced.  But yeah, sometimes it’s hard to be mommy and daddy (especially when you’re going through one of the tougher stages, like the newborn stage or the terrible 2’s).

Now you all know me and know that I bounce back really quickly…  😉  I’m already coming up with smaller activities that can be enjoyed as day trips, since that seems to be our sweet spot this summer.  I still plan to make this summer incredible!

Maybe we won’t travel as much as we used to…  But different doesn’t have to mean less special or memorable!

If I’ve learned one thing as a parent so far, it’s that there will be days that are hard; because you -in a way – will mourn for the way things used to be.  (Because those are the good ol’ days you remember and cherish).  BUT also remember that you’re forging new traditions.  New memories.

And although change can be hard, you can also focus on how amazing the new, different way of doing things can be.

And trust me, I fully expect to laugh about this vacation one day.  And when he’s older, I also plan to remind Brady of what he put us through.  Ha!  🙂   Just kidding!

Mostly…

 

 

You Know You’re the Mom of a Toddler When:

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1.  Your house exists in three stages – messy, messier, and oh-my-gosh-we-live-in-a-barn.

2.  The messy version of your house starts to feel clean, because it’s only messy.  There are two much worse levels…

3.  You realize that there are benefits to the toys scattered about your living room floor.  It distracts visitors from your crazy hair and the bags under your eyes.  “Oops, I’m sorry there are so many lego’s scattered about.  Why don’t you carefully watch your feet and try not to look at my face too much…”

4.  You’ve got mom guns and can lift a 30 lb toddler while carrying groceries, talking on the phone, and dodging pets.  America Ninja Warrior has nothing on you.

5.  You’re really good at picking up stuffed animals with your feet.  (Anything to avoid doing one more squat while holding your little one… who – for the record –  doesn’t feel all that little anymore).

6.  You wear leopard print, not because it makes you look fierce, but because the pattern hides milk stains, chocolate stains, poop stains, Popsicle stains, and gravy stains.  Leopard print is the ultimate stain hider.  It’s like precious gold in cloth form.

7.  If you close your eyes, you can see spots.

8.  Forget heels, polish, lip gloss, and jewelry.  Your epitome of THE perfect night is now a hot bath, bubbles, flickering candlelight, and a bowl of peanut m&m’s.  Ahhh, feel that stress slip away…

9.  If you don’t have time for the hot bath, bubbles, or flickering candlelight, then the peanut m&m’s will do!

10.  Caffeine is your best friend.  You love it even more than you love leopard print.  Or m&m’s even!

AND…

You have more love in your heart than you know what to do with.  🙂

 

Being the Best Mom

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Reading books and magazines does nothing to really prepare you for the reality of parenthood.  I mean, there are helpful tips and some awesome suggestions that you’ll probably tuck away in the back of your mind for use someday.  (Trust me, I enjoy a good article in Parent or a helpful chapter in What to Expect just as much as the next mamma).  But at the end of the day, it’s all information collected by a specific mom or dad based on their experiences with a specific child.

It’s subjective.

No one can ultimately tell you how to be the best parent to your child, because no one has been the parent to your child.  And, unfortunately, your child doesn’t come with an instruction manual.  (Trust me, I know.  I had a C-section, and so the doctors literally had to open me up to pull Brady out.  If there was any sort of manual inside, they would have found it).

That being said, I was convinced yesterday morning that I was taking steps towards being the best mom I could possibly be, because I made homemade playdough.  I mean, how ‘mommish’ is that?!?  It’s like the epitome of craft-mom, caring-mom, I-embrace-messes-mom, and I-want-to-make-sure-my-baby-has-plenty-of-sensory-play-mom.

Let’s ignore the fact that it was the first time I actually did any sort of real sensory play with Brady.  Honestly, I haven’t felt that he’s needed it.  The kid walked at 11 months, climbed stairs at 12 months, and ran at 13 months.  He has sensory play all day long, as he pulls tupperware out of cupboards, unrolls sheets of toilet paper (when we forget to shut the bathroom door), breaks televisions by pushing the on and off switch too many times, and tugs on ever-patient cat tails.

But I’ve noticed lately that he has seemed a little bit bored.  And although I hope to join some mommy-and-me programs in the spring, the lack of stimulation (and definite need for it) could make for a long winter.  So I decided that it was time to take the leap and begin my adventure of creating some fun learning experiences for my toddler.

And we made playdough.  Well, I made playdough.  He squished it, threw it, and stretched it for a good 20 minutes.  That’s a long time for my little guy to sit still, and so I felt as though we had made some huge progress together.  I rocked at this mommy thing!  I am the best mom!!

Then this happened…

Our house is located in what was once an expansive farmer’s field, and so there are no tall trees to shelter us on the windy days.  Yesterday, it felt as though we were in a wind tunnel.  And because the door had been left unlocked (and apparently hadn’t been shut as tight as it needed it to be), the wind literally blew the side door open.

Brady charged for that open door with the gusto of Mel Gibson in his dramatic, battle scene of Braveheart.   FREEDOM!

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Only Brady’s little legs were met with nothing underneath them when he reached the door step, and out he toppled onto the icy front porch.  Thank goodness he wasn’t hurt more seriously and that Nate was literally right behind him to scoop him up and out of the frigid cold.  Also thank goodness no one was driving by to see a toddler come soaring out of the open side door during the middle of winter.  That would be fun to explain to DSS.

Brady received lots of cuddles and some more playdough time, followed by even more cuddles and some Curious George.  And as I sat watching cartoons with him, holding him close, I realized that – ultimately – I wish I could protect him against everything that might hurt him.  As a mom, although I know it’s not possible, I feel as though it’s my job to keep him from all that would hurt him, both physically and emotionally.  That is what would make me the best mom.

Right?

But at the same time, I know that each skinned knee or taunt from a bully can be an experience that will make him stronger.  Those horrible moments can tear him down, or they can show him just how strong he can be.  And although I cannot protect him from all that would hurt him, I can be there to encourage him to get back on that bike.  I can show him how to forgive and how to be confident, even when others try to tear him down.

I won’t have all the answers.  I will make mistakes.  Sometimes, I’ll feel like I’ve got the mom thing figured out and then there will be the days that I let the wind kick the door in.  But I will always, always try my best and love him with an unconditional love that cannot be explained or taken away.

That is my job.  And on the days when he needs to cry, holding him will be my job too.  And maybe we’ll make some more playdough together.  Because that’s what the best moms do.

 

 

 

 

The Guilt Monster

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Mommy guilt is absolutely no joke.  Like if someone started a joke with “Knock, Knock,” and the answer to “Who’s there?” was “Mommy guilt”…  Well, the joke would just end right there, because nothing funny can come after that.

I have no idea when exactly it hits; but sometime between the moment a mom gives birth and the moment she brings her baby home, she is enveloped in a sense of responsibility that goes so far beyond caring for that squishy bundle of joy.  Suddenly she carries the future of a little life in her hands.  It is her quest in life to protect and nourish this tiny human and to train and guide him.

That’s huge.

The only way I can describe it is like this.  Having a baby is like releasing a piece of yourself into the world.  That baby’s heartbeat feels like yours, only it’s no longer safe in your own body.  And you’ve looked into his eyes and seen pure need that only you can fill. So with every fiber of your being, you want to protect, love, and nourish him.  You want to see him laugh and never cry, and to see him safe always, and to see him live a happy and successful life.

With that overwhelming hunger to be everything your child needs, it’s easy to forget that you can’t be your child’s everything.

And oftentimes, that sense of complete responsibility creeps into every other aspect of life.  Just around the time that a new mom’s life is upturned and she finds herself with little to no free time, she is suddenly enveloped with this need to be everything to everyone else too.  She is filled with this intense empathy that makes her sob hysterically at every Hallmark commercial or Carrie Underwood song.

Seriously, I cried during an episode of ‘The Middle’, just because it was about a mom having to leave her son at college. 

I’ve only been a mom for nine months now, and I’ve already succumbed to mommy guilt one too many times.  Just the other night, Brady was crying hysterically from teething pain and nothing I did could soothe him.  And his tear-stained face and sobs tore at my heart, and I felt so insufficient in that moment to be the mom he needed. I also realized that I hadn’t called a friend that day as promised, I never returned the emails sent to me days earlier, I’d forgotten to send out two birthday cards, I’d left baby laundry all over the living room floor for Nate to stumble over when he got home, and the cats were following me around, begging for attention that I couldn’t give.

I felt my heart being pulled in fifty different directions.  I felt myself being dragged down by that mommy guilt, which kept whispering in my ear, “You’re not doing enough.”  “You need to do better.”  “You need to do more.”

“Why don’t you just clone yourself already?!”

Honestly, I only imagine that it gets worse, as a baby’s world gets bigger.  Right now, I worry about accidentally sleeping through the baby monitor, or not doing enough to help him reach his milestones, or busy days that don’t allow me to spend the quality time with him that I want to.  But one day, his daddy and I will have to teach him right and wrong and how to be a strong, loving man.  I’ll have to release that beautiful piece of myself into an often-cruel world, and I won’t be there to protect him.  I’ll have to trust that I raised him right.

That’s scary.

And this is when the little flames of guilt can turn into a roaring fire.  Everyone makes mistakes.  We all occasionally make choices that we shouldn’t.  Subsequently, we have to live with the result of those choices.  The thing is that although we alone are responsible for our choices, as a mom we very often bear the guilt of our children’s choices.

We’re flooded with thoughts of, “If only I had been a better mom…”  “If only I had done things differently…”  “If only I had raised him better…”  “This is all my fault…”

Brady is nine months old, and I already – silly as it may sound – battle with myself over this.  He’s already showing signs of being selfish and very strong-willed.  When he doesn’t get what he wants, sometimes he’ll look us in the eyes and defiantly give our arms a strong pinch or our faces a slap.

My initial reaction is to be slightly impressed and to think, “Wow, you’re already smart enough to act like this?!?  Are you a little genius or something?”  And my second thought is, “Oh, man, where did I go wrong?”

Because it has to be my fault, right?!?  Surely I didn’t cuddle with him enough or stir his oatmeal quite right and that’s why he’s acting out?

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(source)

Wrong!  🙂

It’s my responsibility to gently guide Brady throughout his life, because he will learn right from wrong by watching my example.  I believe that we’re born with a selfish nature, because the Bible says we’ve all got sin in us.  And watching my precious baby boy only confirms it, because he’s the sweetest little guy… except for when he’s not getting his way.  😉  He’ll need love, and patience, and nurturing.  Sometimes he’ll need to be punished in order to be taught consequences.

And sometimes he’ll make mistakes, just as I will too.

I just need to take that deep breath, ask God for guidance in raising him, and follow my mommy heart (while listening to the advise of trusted moms who have gone on before me).  That’s all I can do.  That’s all anyone can do.

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And as difficult as it is for me to be at this place sometimes, I am at a place where my availability to friends is going to be different.  At least for now…  So sometimes (most times) the birthday card may be sent out late…  And sometimes I might have to apologize for not calling or for taking a week or so to reply to an email.  But I’ve already found that honest communication is important, because my friends totally understand when I share with them just how thin I’m stretched.  I might not be quite as on top of things like I used to be and my availability is much less, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t be there for them in whatever way I can.

As for the cats and Nate?  I buy them their favorite treats and all is forgiven!  😉

I’m not saying that I have this mommy guilt thing figured out.  It’s very real, and I’m sure it’s something I’ll deal with… forever.   But that being said, I refuse to let it get the best of me!

Because while mommy guilt is no joke, neither is this:  I’m a mom who is doing the absolute best that she can!  🙂  And my best IS good enough, just as yours is too!  Don’t let the guilt creep up on you or tell you any different!!

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older, he will not depart from it.”   Proverbs 22:6