Dear New Mommy,

I’m not writing this to discourage you. I’m writing it to encourage you, to let you know that if this is what your experience is like, you’re not alone.

Motherhood is hard. People talk about how hard it is, but not really. I’ve had SO many friends have babies over the last 6 1/2 years, so I’ve been around all the new moms and heard their stories. I’ve seen some of the struggles. But every one of them held something back when they told their story. I think there’s something about becoming a mom that makes us as women need to be strong, and part of that strength is how we’re perceived by others as mothers. If we show too much of our struggle, we must not be a strong enough mother. I would argue that our strength comes from actually sharing those struggles and giving hope as encouragement to those moms who come after us.

My days in the hospital were easy. I almost didn’t want to leave! There was a nursery I could send my baby to if I needed to rest; people brought me meals and snacks; I didn’t have to do much. Then it was time to pack up the baby and head home, on our own. That’s when it gets hard. Labor and delivery are nothing compared to life with a newborn.

First up are the hormones and emotional roller coaster rides you go on. There were moments when I needed a break and didn’t want to be the one taking care of the baby in that moment, so I would go in the bedroom and Hubby would take the baby. Almost immediately I would be overcome with the need to have my baby in my arms again, and the conflicting emotions were almost too much to handle. Cue sobbing. It’s okay to want a break from baby and miss baby at the same time! You’re his/her sole caregiver, their whole world (especially if you’re breastfeeding), so don’t be hard on yourself if you feel like you need a moment to yourself. Take that moment and allow yourself to feel the emotions that come with it, with no guilt.

Breastfeeding. It’s tough. Ava wasn’t a great latcher at the beginning, partially because she was 2 weeks early and partially because she had a minor case of tongue tie. So, at the hospital they gave me a nipple shield to use when nursing, which is a silicone contraption that goes over your actual nipple to give baby a little more to grab onto when they latch. Fantastic, super helpful, off we went a-nursing. Then I got home and realized how annoying it was. I had to keep it out of reach of the dogs, wash it after every feeding; if she flailed around and knocked it off (which happened quite often), then milk got everywhere; and nursing in public was virtually impossible with that. So, I went to the lactation consultant to learn how to wean her off of it, and we got her tongue tie fixed. 7 weeks. It took me 7 weeks to wean her off the nipple shield, and then both she and I had to basically learn how to breastfeed all over again. On top of the logistics of nursing and trying to get the hang of that, it’s emotionally draining to be the only person who can feed your baby. Especially at night. And especially if you have a slow eater like I do. She would eat every 1 1/2-2 hours, and it would take her an hour to eat sometimes. That would leave me with only 30-60 minutes until the next feeding. If you’ve decided to breastfeed, it’s important to get support. Find a lactation consultant, either through the hospital or another reputable organization, and get some help with the logistics. Find some other moms, either on a mommy chat board or moms you know, who can help support and encourage you. Most importantly, when you feel like giving up, remember why you decided to breastfeed in the first place. It’s the best food for baby, it’s always there and ready when baby’s hungry, it’s free, and at some point you’ll finally feel like it really is that special bonding time everybody talks about it being (for me, that didn’t happen until I went back to work and wasn’t able to nurse her during the day). On the flip side, if you decide breastfeeding isn’t for you and you choose to exclusively pump and bottle feed or formula feed, don’t let anyone convince you that you made the wrong decision. The right decision is the decision that’s right for your family. Period. If your baby is healthy, all is good.

Sleep deprivation is no joke! Ava slept pretty much all the time until she was about 6 weeks old. She woke up at night to eat, but she was sleeping so much during the day, I was able to catch a nap and feel fine. Suddenly, she was awake during the day. Now there’s no time for a mommy nap, AND I have to figure out how to entertain a tiny baby?! And did you know you actually have to teach a baby how to sleep? I’m not kidding! Once their Circadian rhythms set in, you have to teach them about naps and bedtime, and it’s tough. Every time we find something that works for Ava, she switches things up on us and we have to start over again. There are nights when I get so frustrated at her for waking up and not going back to sleep easily, telling her to stop crying because nothing is wrong, begging her to just sleep. It’s easy to forget that she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t understand what it means for Mommy to be tired and have to go to work the next day. She doesn’t understand why sleeping in her crib is better than sleeping in Mommy’s arms. She doesn’t understand why she can’t sleep, only that something isn’t right and the only thing that could possibly make it better is Mommy. It’s easy to forget that she doesn’t cry out of spite or to irritate me. She cries because it’s the only voice she has, and she uses it to cry out to her Mommy for comfort. It’s easy to forget these things. And it’s okay to forget these things. I promise you will quickly remember them, feel guilty for thinking them, and apologize to your baby. The wonderful thing about babies is their ability to forgive and forget. No matter how terrible I am in the nighttime waking hours, I am greeted in the morning by a big smile.

I can promise you that you will get over each hurdle and it will get a little better every day. You will learn to navigate today’s problems, and new problems will arise tomorrow. I don’t know that it gets easier, but maybe it gets less hard?

Motherhood is tough. Is it the best and most rewarding job I will ever have? Absolutely. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? The moms that went before me tell me it is, and I believe it. I see a glimmer of better in there every day and I guess that makes it worth it.

Sincerely,
Continuously Sleep Deprived Mommy of a Beautiful 5 Month Old Baby Girl
(PS – playing Candy Crush is an excellent way to pass the time during those endless nighttime feedings. Getting stuck on level 86 for weeks totally takes your mind off the fact that you’re up yet again.)

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My Baby Story

I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I got married May 4, 2007, and I counted down the days to our 2 year anniversary. That’s when we had decided we would start discussing when to have kids. That anniversary came and went, along with others, and FINALLY 6 years into our marriage my husband said okay, it was time to start trying to get pregnant. First try…test was positive! Hubby thought it would take longer to happen, so he was a little surprised.

My pregnancy was so easy it’s almost laughable. I was that girl every other pregnant woman hates. No morning sickness, no heartburn, no cravings, no swollen ankles, minimal weight gain. I sailed through my pregnancy, just baking our little mystery baby (we chose not to find out if we were having a boy or a girl before the birth). November 15, 2013 was my last day at work, and I was looking forward to 2 weeks of maternity leave before my due date. I had lots to get done – finish crocheting 3 baby blankets for our baby, make baby some hats, finish a few sewing projects for baby, Christmas shopping/decorating/planning…so many things on my to-do list. What was NOT on my to-do list was delivering 2 weeks early.

Sunday 11/17/13 at 10:05 pm, my water broke. We headed to the hospital – my bag was packed, but not in the car…we were so not ready for this! On the way to the hospital, I texted my parents, sister and doula to let them know we were headed to the hospital. About 40 minutes after my water broke, I had my first contraction. Once I was moved into the labor and delivery suite, things happened fast. Family got there, we told the doula to head to the hospital, my contractions came fast and painfully – no time for me to learn to breathe through them, because they got worse and worse with every contraction. I gave in and asked for the epidural, even though I had planned to go unmedicated for my delivery. They called the anesthesiologist, and when he FINALLY got there (only about 5-10 minutes later), I was so relieved. My family left the room so they could administer the epidural…but alas, it was time to push, and NO time for meds! My doula came rushing into the room after a couple pushes, and despite all my plans of who would be in the room, when asked by the nurse if I wanted my family to come back in, I emphatically declined. Hubby was such a great coach, holding my hand, telling me I could do it every time I said I couldn’t, not passing out despite his tendency to do so when he sees blood. I couldn’t have asked for a better coach.

At 1:01 AM Monday November 18, 2013, I delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl – Ava Cathrine, 6 pounds 15 ounces, 19 inches long…absolutely perfect. As much pain as I had during my 2 hour 56 minute labor and delivery, it all went away when they laid that little baby on my chest, goop and all. 

Motherhood hasn’t been easy so far – I spend all day feeding her, not much of the night sleeping, nothing gets done, and time is flying by. Not to mention recovery from delivery – trust me…you want to research that when you get pregnant. Don’t be blindsided by the aftermath! Amidst all this, though, I’ve watched my husband fall in love with his baby girl, and I’ve fallen more in love with him for it. Sometimes the only thing that will calm her are snuggles with mommy, and even when it’s the middle of the night and I’m exhausted, there is always time for snuggles. She was well worth the wait.

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Fearfully and wonderfully made

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Psalm 139:14

I believe nothing can show us the power and love of God more than the creation of a child in its mother’s womb.

As I enter into my last 10 weeks (give or take a couple) of carrying my little one, I begin to think about all that is to come. I’m reading the blogs that tell me what to expect in labor and delivery and after we bring baby home. I’m preparing myself for the worst, and hoping for the best. I’m reveling in this amazing thing that’s been going on inside my body for the last 30 weeks. God has take a seed and created a person – He formed this baby’s organs and limbs, taught it how to move, gave it awareness, and is strengthening it for its entry into our lives.

There are hard things coming. In less time than I care to think about, I’ll be pushing a watermelon out of a sock, and that will not be a picnic. I will be sleep-deprived, emotional, physically worn out, and have no idea what I’m doing. I will also be privileged to be the one chosen to care for this little one, to go through all the ups and downs and hard times to help shape them into the person God has created them to be.

I’m so excited to meet this little person God has been busy creating just for me, my husband, and our families. This son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, niece or nephew that will change our family forever.

Baby Bird – you are fearfully and wonderfully made and Mommy is so excited to go on this journey with you!

Overwhelmed

28 weeks down, 12 weeks to go until this baby gets here. I’m so thankful for all my mom friends who find these wonderfully uplifting blog posts and share them on Facebook. I recently read one over at Short Stop called “To Moms of One or Two Children” and it offered me some insight that I hope to hold on to and take with me into this new adventure called motherhood.

This mama has been blessed with 5 beautiful children, and, as I imagine every mother with a handful of kids does, she often gets asked “How do you do it?” When asked how many kids I want, I always say I want 4. As I approach the birth of this first little one and look ahead to all that brings with it, I’m already feeling overwhelmed and wondering how I’m going to make it work and how on earth I might deal with 4 kids if we get there.

“You are maxed out – emotionally and physically – at the number of children you currently have.”

We have 2 dogs right now. They’re exhausting. Even on their best days, they’re exhausting. I’m feeling maxed out now, with my 2 furry kids, and I’m about to add 1 more demanding person to this family. It’s so encouraging to hear someone say that no matter how many children you have, you are always maxed out. It may sound odd to be encouraged by this fact, but I am encouraged. It reminds me of that saying “God never gives you more than you can handle.” While this is a nice thought, if He never gave me more than I could handle, what reason would I have to lean on Him? I often try to do life on my own, without His help, and I’ve been given a pretty easy life, one that’s been pretty easy to navigate on my own. Including my pregnancy – we got pregnant on the first try and I’ve had the easiest pregnancy of anyone I know. But I’m facing the BIGGEST thing ever to enter my life, and I have NO IDEA how to deal with it. God certainly does give us more than we can handle, but He NEVER gives us more than He can handle.

12 weeks to go until this little bundle of joy, excitement, and paralyzing fear enters our world. I’m maxed out now, I’ll be maxed out then, and I know God will have it all covered if I just lean on Him. I can’t wait to meet you little Baby Bird!

20 week ultrasound

A call to perseverance

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”
-Hebrews 10:36-

We just finished a series at church called “What’s the Big Idea?” God has a big idea, a big plan, for our life. Part of that big plan for our life is God’s big reward for us. Once we understand God’s reward system for us, and how to earn those rewards, we have to prepare for our big reward. Part of that preparation is going through trials. It is through those trials we are refined.

Joseph is best known for his fancy technicolor dream coat, but he was refined through trials. Not just little minor trials, MAJOR stuff. He had a dream that he would be in power and his brothers would bow down to him, and he shared this dream with them…so, his brothers sold him into slavery. Then he was accused of raping a woman in Pharaoh’s court, he was thrown into jail, promised by another prisoner that he would tell Pharaoh all about his dream interpretations…then the prisoner forgot about him for 2 years! Finally Pharaoh finds out about him, he gets released from jail, put into a place of authority, reunited with his family, and sees his dream come to pass. 20 years later!

“Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.”
-Psalm 105:19-

I am not a patient person. I want what I want and I want it now. God has planted a dream in my heart, and I am infinitely impatient in my waiting for it to come to pass. Have I faced trials while I’ve been waiting? Oh yes. Have I been refined by them? Probably not as much as I should have been. It’s time to open my eyes to the trials and make the most of them while I wait. It’s in these times we draw closer to God and move closer to His will for our lives. If Joseph can wait 20 years for his dream, I can wait a few more months.

 “I wait for you, O Lord;
you will answer, O Lord my God.”
-Psalm 38:15-

Hope

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
-Hebrews 10:23-

Hope is to expect with confidence. It is a word too often thrown around. I think too often misused, as well. We hope we get that promotion. We hope that person understands. We place our hope in so many things. I wonder how much less we would use this word if we truly understood the depth of its meaning?

What does it mean to place our hope in God? To anticipate something good, confidently expecting it to come to pass. If I profess to place my hope in God, I MUST believe that He is faithful to fulfill His promise of good.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.”
-Psalm 62:5-

New Year’s Resolution

Happy_New_Year_2013_2

Well, it’s that time of year. The time to make promises to ourselves, resolutions. Many of them won’t be kept. I never make New Year’s resolutions. I know I won’t keep them, so I don’t make them. This year I am making a New Year’s resolution, though. This year, I’m going to try harder. Instead of listing all the things I want to do this year, not do this year, do differently this year, do better this year, I’m simply going to try harder this year. Try harder at work, try harder at home, try harder at life. Just try harder. As long as I try, I’ll have kept my resolution for 2013.

What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2013?