Dear Bethany,

It’s okay.

It’s okay that your dishes from four days ago are still in the sink.  The ones in the dishwasher are clean, and we all know you’ll get to them eventually. You have not one, but two dirty crockpots? No problem. At least you used them at some point.

It’s totally fine that you haven’t dusted in a while. Little children are still running in and out of your house, so even if you did, no one would notice anyway. Don’t worry about the fact that you haven’t done you or your husband’s laundry in so long that he had to wear old underwear to work. He rallies for you and is proud that at least the kids have clean clothes.

And speaking of your awesome husband, it’s no big deal that you haven’t shaved your legs in a significantly long time. He’s also cool with it that you didn’t get the opportunity to shower today because your schedule and children were both slightly crazy. He’s watched you birth babies, and still finds you sexy. Honestly, there’s not really too much beyond that which will make you physically unattractive to him.

It’s not the end of the world that your child, after over a year of efforts, still will not always poop when he has to. This too, shall pass. Don’t stress over the amount of times you have to say, “stop making fart sounds,” “no, we are not talking about poop right now,” or “for the love, put your shoes on!”

You had canned soup for dinner last night? No big deal. A little processed crap never hurt anybody. At least you saved $20 and opted out on going through the McDonald’s drive through for the 85th time this year.

Don’t feel bad that you forgot to pack diapers for your daughter today when you dropped her off in the nursery and she ended up needing a diaper change and had to be put in a diaper much to small for all that junk inside that trunk. She survived, and the nursery workers have extra diapers just for moms like you.

You’re doing great. You’ve got this. Mom power and all that hoopla to you. Because you know what? Sometimes the stars align, your baby takes a long nap, your oldest is actually quiet during “quiet time,” and you get to clean your kitchen and listen to Kaleo at the same time. And, after that the heavens open and it’s 65 and sunny on an Oregon November day and you can get outside with your littles and rake the entire backyard with a 20 pound baby on your back. And despite being hit with a rake over a dozen times by a certain four year old who is very slowly learning spacial awareness, you got the entire yard raked and your kids got some precious vitamin D. Then, your babies entertain one another long enough for you to punch out this letter to yourself.

Don’t worry, mama. If you don’t get it done today, it will be waiting tomorrow, or the next day, or even the day after that.

You are capable.

Sincerely,

Yourself.

 

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Another baby? It’s complicated.

It’s my “blog-aversary” I guess. So says WordPress. Four years ago I started this baby….and wow does time fly. Four years ago I started this blog as a rant of the struggles of first-time motherhood. And now that little baby I was talking about is four. He knows how to write his name. He knows the alphabet and he can count to 100. That little baby is also a fantastic big brother and says the funniest and craziest things. It’s nuts how life works out and flies by all at once.

I’ve been in kind of a funk these days. I know I talk about my miscarriages often, and many of you who read this blog may be tired of hearing about it. I apologize, and want to kindly remind you that you don’t have to read what I write, it doesn’t bother me one way or another. But be warned, this blog does touch on my unborn babies.

I have begun the process of writing a book I once dreamed about. Both my husband and the readers of this blog have encouraged me to push forward and make that dream a reality. Though it won’t be remotely written for many years, it is in the works.  Writing on this topic has been something I have been passionate about. Miscarriage and the loss with it has been so taboo in our culture and I’m tired of it, and so are the other mothers out there who have experienced it. It’s just time to talk about it and not in a “everything-works-out” kind of way. It’s time that miscarriage is recognized as the anger and grief inducing tragedy that it is. It should be called out for what it is: a life altering, never the same again, event.

But, that is only part of what is on my mind today. Really, what my mind is mulling over is whether or not to have another baby. I want another baby. I crave it. I hated being pregnant with Lennon, but in the long run, it’s so worth it. But honestly, I am petrified. The condition I have, which presumably caused my previous miscarriages, only worsens with age, so each day that passes, each moment, increases my chance of miscarrying all the more. And honestly, I don’t know if I can mentally and emotionally handle the possibility of losing another baby.

Recently, my husband and I have started a small group within our church dedicated to the common bond of miscarriage. Because of this and the start of this book, I have been dwelling on and reliving my experiences more graphically than  usual on a daily basis. It does a number on one’s emotional state. I typically think of my lost children at least once a day, but lately, I have been graphically re-living every detail of their loss.

I have been trying so hard to soak in the moments with my four year old and treasure the fleeting moments of babyhood with my sweet Lennon. But always in the back of my mind is the craving of another child, and the reminder of those I have lost. It’s a tough place to find myself.

I tried to fool myself into saying I was done after two living babies. I have a beautiful boy and the most awesome girl. Perfect, right? But I crave another. A few weeks ago, I held a friend’s sweet newborn baby and was so happy to give her back once she cried, but now–now I long for that moment when you hold a new baby for the first time. I want to hear those sweet and unforgettable newborn cries. I want that first look into each other’s eyes. I want to mother another child. But I’m scared of the journey to get there. My heart cannot take another loss. My heart can hardly manage another pregnancy. The mere thought makes my stomach churn and my eyes tear up.

Pregnancy is a complete crap-shoot. You don’t ever know until the moment that beautiful, pink, screaming baby is placed in your arms, that everything will be okay. And there in lies the risk.

This is where I am, folks. Truly caught between a rock and a hard place. And seriously hoping time will tell.

The Trenches

“You’re in the trenches.” I’ve heard this phrase many times in the last year, and I’ve not really known what to make of it until recently. It is typically used to refer to parents who have multiples under the age … Continue reading

Dear Second Child

My mom didn’t make my baby book until I asked for one for my 12th birthday. I always thought, “how could she not make me a baby book?” Not to mention there was this cross stitch picture she made for my sister, amongst other things.

Mom, I get it now. And thank you for making me one for my 12th birthday.

Dear Second Child,

I love you just as much as your older sibling. I promise I do. Yes, I did a baby book for your brother’s first year of life, carefully and joyfully documenting each month and putting it together in a beautiful album. Yes, you are five months old now, and no, I have not purchased your album yet. But rest assured, I’ve got all your important moments documented in my Instagram account. Yep…

Yes, we have video footage of your brother’s developmental milestones. And, to be fair, we do have attempts at yours…they are just marred by a certain three year old waving his hands in front of the camera or crazily chatting over your precious cooing sounds.

No, I did not have your crib bedding specially made. I got you a blanket at Babies R Us and used the rest of your brother’s old hand me down bedding.

Yes, most of your clothes (okay, all of your clothes) are freebies because I realize now that babies grow so fast and I’m not wasting my money on brand new outfits that you will wear for approximately five minutes. Don’t worry, if you’re anything like me, we will make up for lost new outfits later in life.

Yes, I cloth diapered your brother’s little baby bottom, but honey–ain’t nobody got time for that amount of laundry these days. Disposable diapers have served you well and will continue to do so.

I often let your brother nap in my arms as much as possible. I’m afraid I don’t have that luxury with you. You see, the longer I hold you, the more I risk you being woken up by a certain three almost four year old who is bashing his cars and Hulk smashing everything. I save a little extra snuggle time for you every night before I put you to bed for two reasons. One, because I love to have that time just you and I (and daddy is home to help keep child number one under control ;)) and two, because I often fall asleep right along with you out of sheer exhaustion.

We have made it a point to write letters to both you and your brother to give to you when you’re older. You do have some…just not as many. We will catch up, I promise.

Oh second child, my love for you is not any less than it is for your brother. It’s just that your brother doesn’t nap, and you don’t sleep at night, so it’s all I can do to make sure everyone is clothed, fed, and safe. This too shall pass, and hopefully by the time you are 12, I will have purchased your baby album.

Don’t take it personally. Someday if you have babies of your own, you will understand, much like I am now understanding. I love you deeply, and you have completed our family in the best way possible. And I promise you, I will print photos of you soon. At least by the time you’re old enough to know whether or not there are pictures of you on the wall. IMG_0778

 

 

 

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Brotherly Love.

Every parent wants their children to get along, or better yet, to actually love each other. This afternoon, I got to witness it on a new level and trust me, when you see it–magic.

Lennon had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon to get some vaccinations.* I have never cried when either of my kids have gotten a shot until today. I feel they are a necessary evil, and both Judah and Lennon have already experienced other situations that have been much more difficult to observe than a quick shot.

However, today’s event was different. Lennon flexed her leg muscle during the injection, which caused it to be much more painful and traumatizing than normal. A bit of blood was shed and many, many baby tears and screams followed. Of course, the nurse felt horrible, but these things sometimes occur. So there we both were trying to comfort this poor little baby to no avail. When our nurse finished up and left the room, I turned to Judah to make sure he was ready to get going. I will never forget this moment.

Instead of finding him occupying himself spinning around on the doctor’s stool, which he typically does during these visits, he was standing, shell-shocked, tears streaming down his face. He looked at me with such an intensely worried expression and whispered softly, “Mommy, is Lennon going to be okay?”

Bam. My tear ducts started flowing uncontrollably. I know in that moment I should have tried to hold them in and put on a brave face for my kiddo, but when you experience the love that your firstborn has for his sibling, it’s game over. I mean, I know Judah loves his sister, but this was more than a happy greeting in the morning, or a kiss goodnight kind of love. Here was my little boy, visibly distraught over the state of his sister, wanting nothing more than to make sure she was okay and comforted.

I reassured him that she was going to be fine and that sometimes these things hurt, but we always get better. I told him that Lennon needed us to be brave for her, and that we would just spend the afternoon snuggling her up and making sure she knew everything was okay. I hugged him tight and said, “It’s hard to watch someone you love experience hurt isn’t it?” He gave several vigorous nods. As I wiped his tears and saw the genuine affection he had for his baby sister, my heart felt like it was going to explode.

We gathered up our things and headed for the car, all three of us covered in tears. It was the worst and best vaccination day ever.

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*This post is not about opinions on vaccinating your kids. Everyone has them, including myself, but I don’t really want to hear them. At the end of the day, the decision is yours as a parent on what you want to do, and you are the one who knows best for your particular child. Let’s leave it there. 

So…what do you do all day?

This is a question that I, as a stay at home parent have been asked before. Seriously. And yes, the person who asked it did leave my presence with their head attached to their body by the grace of God. … Continue reading

1-7-2016::Lennon Ruth

I’ve had two amazing births. Neither one happened naturally, but I’ve loved them both just the same. And though both of my babies do things on their own time and in their own way, each one made it easy on me when it came to their delivery.

In July, 2012, Kyle and I became parents when Judah was born. And, as many of you know, between July 2013 to May 2014, we experienced three miscarriages. (You can read their stories here, here, and here). After going through so much heartache, we came to the decision that we would try one last time for another baby. Thank goodness we did, and thank God that His timing is perfect.

In early May, Judah and I surprised Kyle with the news that I was expecting again. With the history we had, going to her initial ultrasound appointment was quite the roller coaster of emotion. Thankfully, we heard a strong little heartbeat and saw our girl for the first time.

I did not enjoy being pregnant this time around. Though I didn’t experience morning sickness, it was physically very different than my previous pregnancies. My hips were in so much pain that it was hard for me to walk some days. I couldn’t sit on the floor and play with my son, which was devastating. I couldn’t sleep a majority of nights, and I was constantly exhausted. Not to mention the “what ifs” that come from experiencing three failed pregnancies. Thankfully being pregnant is temporary and the reward is so much greater than the short time of discomfort.

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Lennon’s due date was January 7. She was positioned very low in my pelvis, and I had been experiencing early labor for weeks. This, among other factors led to an induction. I remember my doctor scheduling it and feeling like I had failed. I wanted to know what it was like to go into labor naturally, be able to work through it at home for a majority of the time, and then rush to the hospital while yelling at my husband to drive more carefully, yet with lightning speed in the car 😉  But honestly, feeling guilty about it was so stupid. She was full term, and for some reason, my body requires a little jump start to get the party started. Besides, I was already at 4 cm, almost completely effaced, and I have gone from five to 10 cm in the snap of a  finger and I’m pretty sure Kyle didn’t want to deliver this baby in our living room.  It turned out that my induction was necessary anyway, because my doctor tried to break my water only to find out it had been leaking for an unknown amount of time.

On January 7, we headed to the hospital early in the morning to have our baby. I was hooked up to all my machines and my drip started at 8 AM. About an hour into it, I was asked if I wanted an epidural. I said no because though my contractions were progressing quickly, again, I felt that guilt of not “really” experiencing those intensely painful moments, almost as if it’s a right of passage to getting your baby. However, my husband, nurse, and anesthesiologist looked at my contraction patterns and told me if I didn’t want to feel the “ring of fire,” now was the time. They also told me, no one gets an extra prize for not getting one. I agreed and was thankful I did.

At 11 AM, my nurse informed us she was heading out to her lunch break. She checked me and I was still around 6 cm, so we all figured in her half hour break, not much would happen and we’d see her when she got back. A few minutes later, I felt a lot of pressure and pretty “pushy” as they would call it. I held off for a couple more minutes, certain that it was not yet time because I was just checked moments ago and still so far away from pushing time. However, it was getting more intense feeling, so I called a nurse. She checked me and sure enough, within ten minutes I had gone from a 6 to a 10 and it was time to have our baby. I pushed three times, and our girl was born at 11:31 AM. (I told you my kids make it easy on me!) She was eight pounds, three ounces, and 19 inches long.

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I remember so vividly seeing her little purple body, all scrunched up, being lifted into the air and placed in my arms. Her first cries were amazing. She was the spitting image of her brother, and Kyle and I were instantly so in love with this beautiful little girl.

We “oohed” and “ahhed” over her for several hours. Those first moments with your baby are pure magic–examining every inch of their little bodies, snuggling them close, and whispering “happy birthday, little love” over and over.

Then it was time for Judah to meet his sister. He fell in love with her instantly and has been the best, most gentle, and loving big brother from that moment on. We couldn’t have asked for a better transition. Our little guy loves his baby sister something fierce. And it’s totally true, all those moments I spent worrying about how I could love another being as much as my first baby were instantly gone the moment I laid eyes on her. And just when you think you can’t love your kids more than you do, you see your son holding his new sister and your heart beats so fast, you feel like you could burst.

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Lennon, we dreamt of this day for so long. I hope you know how deeply loved you are, and how highly anticipated your life has been. You were born at the perfect time for our family. You are treasured, you are precious, you are prized, and you are adored. I cannot wait to watch you grow and marvel at the person  you become. Happy birthday, beautiful girl, I love you.

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Life With Two

So…I can’t really stay away from my blog. It’s just so therapeutic for me. There has been SO much change in our lives since my last post, but I will catch you up on that another day. Shortly stated, life is good right now. SO good.

Many people have asked how things are going with two. So far so good. We love our Lennon girl something fierce. But, in an effort to remain “real” here’s a story for you about our morning so far which pretty much sums up what our days with two are really like. Let me preface this story first by saying that yes, our days are crazier now, but our family is more complete than it has ever been. I wouldn’t trade these days for anything…most of the time…or if margaritas are involve. I also fully acknowledge that I am a complete spaz. Moving on.

Lennon dislikes the car/ carseat a lot, so most of our drives are accompanied with screaming. We’ve all learned to tolerate this and she usually wears herself out into a sleep at some point. Today, on our way home from our mom’s group we had a few errands to run, and Lennon was semi holding it together so we pushed forward and spent more time in the car.

As we continued on in our journey home, Lennon began to lose it pretty badly. Lennon, much like her brother and much against the continued efforts of her parents, is not a napper. In her first weeks of life when typical newborns sleep a majority of the day, our lovely daughter would remain awake for 10 hour stretches at a time, with a short five or ten minute snooze every few hours. No, this is not an exaggeration. But, she sleeps like a champ at night, so we deal. Anyway, I knew her urgency in crying was due to needing a nap, along with her general hatred of the car.

We arrived home and all bets were off. Lennon was sweating and red as a beet. I not only had to get her out of the car, but also the bulky diaper bag (and honestly, I never use that thing, why I bring it along is beyond my comprehension) our coats, so many tiny crafts my son had made in his class that he for some reason cannot carry, and I also needed to unbuckle his carseat, which is freaking impossible to do with one hand…thank you Britax. Phew.

I loaded up as much as I could then got us to the front door, screaming baby in tow. Currently, our garage door isn’t working, so I had to drop everything and find my keys that I hastily threw in some random pocket of the diaper bag when I got out of the car.  Thankfully, it was not rainy today.

After I managed to dig out the keys, our 60 pound dog comes barreling out to greet us, slamming the carseat into my knees and almost knocking over poor Judah. Lennon is just totally gone at this point. I hurriedly drop everything to save her from her carseat. While I’m trying desperately to unbuckle her as quickly as I can, Judah tells me the dog has thrown up all over the rug in the living room. Fantastic. However, the screaming baby wins every time, so the puke will have to wait.

I go to nurse her and lay her down for a nap. Again, the baby does not sleep, as per usual. Instead, she lays in her crib for a bit while I run to make lunch for Judah who is getting close to a meltdown of his own (“my tummy is rumbling forever!”) from having to wait so long on his sister. And by so long I mean five minutes. I finally appease his appetite with a yogurt and PB&J. By this time, an overtired Lennon is totally gone and screaming in her crib. I run to console her. Giving in to the fact that she just won’t nap, I bring her out into the kitchen and encourage Judah to finish his sandwich that he so desperately needed, of which he has taken two bites…of course.

Time passes and I’m flipping from consoling the tired baby to convincing the preschooler that quiet time is a requirement every day for mommy’s sanity. Finally the stars align and Judah agrees he can build some legos in his room and Lennon is finally content. I set her in her bouncer and make lunch for myself. After this, just when I’m about to take that first bite (isn’t it always at that time parents?) she loses it again because at this point, she’s beyond overtired. I nurse her, she spits up everywhere, we both change clothes.

I finally rock Lennon into a stupor, but, every time her eyes close, Judah comes out of his room to ask me to separate legos that he is working on and we have to start the rocking and bouncing all over again. At this point, I’m about 30 seconds from banning all legos forever.

Lennon finally calms down again, enough for me to put her down and try to tidy up the disaster that is surrounding our front door from when we got home. Upon doing so, I walk into the living room and see the dog’s puke everywhere that I had forgotten about. At this point, it’s been two hours since Judah first told me about it.

Cue crying baby and another few lego pieces that are impossibly fastened together. “These are the days of our lives.”

 

Routine Significance.

Wake up. Brew coffee. Turn on children’s show. Pour cereal. Pour coffee.

Get dressed. Walk the dog. Go to the library, or grocery store, or coffee shop, or play date.

Lunch. Clean up. Read books. Nap/quiet time (or attempt one at least). Afternoon snack. Daddy’s home.

Play. Make dinner. Clean up. Laundry. Play. Bedtime routine. Try to get toddler to stay in bed. Crash on couch. Stumble to bed an hour or so later.

Repeat.

Fellow parents, do you ever feel like you’re just trudging through the day, going through the motions, like a song stuck on repeat? I have been feeling that way a lot lately. I know kids thrive on routine, so I try to stick to a basic one, and it’s true–the days that we are off kilter from our normal “schedule” are just not as successful. But my goodness, sometimes I just don’t feel like my days are significant.

I recently joined a church group for moms, recommended to me by a friend. I had tried one last year, and unfortunately due to prior commitments, I couldn’t go. This year, it worked out in my favor, and in Judah’s. During our first lesson, one of the leaders stood up and reminded us moms that what we are doing, where we are right in the trenches of diapers, toys, crafts, and endless amounts of laundry and clean up, these are some of the most valuable days. Yes, we may have paused careers or are shuffling wild schedules in an attempt to balance work and home life. Yes, we may feel like who we were prior to kids is totally lost, and seems impossible to get back. But what we’re doing right now matters. It’s important. It’s significant.

I don’t like looking at motherhood as a “job.” It’s not something that you go to every day and clock out of at five. Parenting another human being is an extreme privilege, and hearing that message was such a good reminder of that principle for me. What I’m doing might seem mundane right now. Gone are the days of spontaneous dates with my husband. I choose my wardrobe based on practicality and comfort over the latest fashions. The highlight of my week is typically our usual Target run. This is my life right now. And just as my kiddo is getting more independent and things like actually eating a hot dinner are occurring more frequently, I’m about to buckle down and add even more craziness to life in just a few short weeks.

But let me repeat what I heard: Parents, what you are doing daily, the investment you’re making in your kids, the time you take to play with them after a long day at the office, the 50th load of laundry that week, and the 800th dish you have washed, they are meaningful. You are investing in the lives of these little humans, and that is something more valuable than you can ever imagine. So don’t be discouraged by the mundane. Embrace this stage of life and bask in the importance of the routine–the work you are doing matters. It is significant. You are significant.