Tuesday, December 31, 2013

5 months.

Dear Henry,

You are such a big boy!  You have grown and developed so much over the past month!

We started feeding you solids when you turned 4 months, and in one month you have transitioned from a timid eater to a spoon-fed pro!  So far, you have tried rice cereal, oatmeal, squash and sweet potatoes.  You have liked everything you've tried so far, but sometimes it does take a few tries :)

You love being active.  You love standing up (with help from Mommy and Daddy.)  You have rolled over several times, although you still need something to kick off from.

You love your feet.  You hate your socks.  One of the funniest moments of this past month was during naptime.  You woke up early, so I decided to let you stay in your crib to see if you would fall back asleep, but I was watching closely on the monitor.  You pulled your feet up, pulled off one sock, then the other, and promptly fell back asleep...as if your socks were keeping you awake.  Funny boy!

You are talking up a storm!  So far, you can say a few consonants: m, b, g, w.  Most of the time, you stick with ooohs and aaaahs.  Sometimes when Mommy sings to you, you even sing along!

You are such a great sleeper.  Right now you sleep 10-11 hours at night, and take three good naps during the day.  You still don't love naptime.  When I'm rocking you before naptime you kick, you arch your back, you talk, you cry, you smile at me...all attempts to distract me from my purpose of putting you to sleep.


You have discovered Molly and Selby.  I'm sure you've seen them before, but recently you look at them and laugh or smile.  You especially love when Selby licks your hands.

You are ticklish.  Your tickle spots are under your neck, and on the back of your ribcage.  If we tickle you, you just scream with delight.

You are definitely teething.  You drool everywhere, all over your shirt.  Sometimes you seem to be crying for no reason, but you stop if I massage your gums.

You are VERY easily distracted.  When I feed you, sometimes I have to turn out all the lights or cover your head with a blanket.  If the tv is on in the same room, you will stop whatever you are doing to watch it.  I finally caved and let you watch your first movie.  It was only because the cleaning ladies were here and we needed something to do while we were temporarily kicked out of your room.  We watched Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day and it was the perfect length to keep your attention.

We love you so much!  Every month gets better and better.  We feel so lucky to be your parents!

Love,

Mommy (and Daddy)




Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas wonderment.

This year, JP and I have been discussing Christmas.  A LOT.  Like every day.  Multiple times a day.

You only get to introduce your child to Christmas once.  We want to do it well.  Not cut any corners.  Not sell it short.

Today we had a Christmas event with our refugee kids.  In thinking and planning on how to possibly explain Christmas to a bunch of kids who don't know Jesus and weren't raised in America, we spent a lot of time analyzing what a typical American Christmas would look like to a kid.

When we stepped back and analyzed Christmas through this lens, we didn't like what we saw.  GREED.  SELFISHNESS.  MATERIALISM.

When did Christmas become so shallow and petty?

Why is the birth of Christ not reason enough to celebrate?  We have to add Santa and reindeer and elves and LIE to our kids about the true meaning of Christmas.  These things are so innocent and seem harmless, but from our perspective, anything that sells Jesus short of who He is and what He sacrificed, is just interference.

We want our kids to know and cherish this time, not because of what is under the tree, but because of the Father who sent His Son, and the Son who came to give His life.

We're not crazy.  We will have a Christmas tree.  We will give our kids gifts.  But we will limit the amount of secular hoop-la.  We will limit the Christmas gift giving.  We will give more than we receive.  We will worship Jesus.  And we will try to forever instill the wonder of the season.

Henry's first Christmas lights






Thursday, December 12, 2013

4 months young.

A little late, as Henry turned 4 months old...oh, 22 days ago, but we have been BUSY!


Solids Foods: At Henry's 4 month check up, we got the go-ahead to start giving Henry solids foods.  We started with rice cereal, once, twice, then three times a day, then did the same with oatmeal.  We now alternate between oatmeal and rice cereal at breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Henry loves eating big boy food.  It took some time for him to get the hang of the spoon, but now he is so easy and cooperative.


Teething: Henry is chewing on EVERYTHING.  His hands, my hands, his car seat, his clothes.  We bought him a Sophie giraffe, but up until now, he was very unimpressed.  Now that he's teething, he loves to chew on her...especially her face.  I don't feel any teeth coming through yet, but I know it's only a matter of time, now.


Sleeping: Henry is now sleeping 10 hours at night, with 3-4 naps during the day.  He learned how to self soothe this month, which is a big relief for Mama!  After I rock him for a few minutes, I put him in his bed, he rolls onto his left side and sucks his thumb until he's asleep.


Playtime:  We started putting Henry in his activity gym this month, and he LOVES it.  I have to admit, I didn't understand the concept of an activity gym.  I have no idea what exactly is so fascinating to Henry, but he can lay there and play for quite a while.  I can almost see the wheels in his head turning.  We bought him the SkipHop alphabet gym, which I would recommend.  It is very bright and colorful, is gender neutral, and has lots of figurative "bells and whistles."


Development: Henry has rolled over in his bed a few times.  I say that he is cheating, because I think he uses his the side rails to kick himself over.  He still enjoys tummy time, and can lift up his entire chest and head for around a minute at a time.  He "stands" with assistance, which is one of his favorite things to do.  He get so proud when he stands up.  He even lifts his feet as if he's taking steps.

This past month also included a trip to the pumpkin patch and Halloween.  I felt really lame taking my son trick-or-treating when he can't eat any candy.  Obviously, everyone would know the candy was for his parents :)  We decided to make a few stops to see friends, and spend the rest of the night at home welcoming trick-or-treaters.


We made another trip to Oklahoma to see family.  Since I was working Thanksgiving day, we went up to Tulsa the weekend before.  Oh, what a mess.  We were supposed to fly out on Friday at around 9:30 pm, but by 10 am that morning the flight was already 2.5 hours delayed.  Ouch.  I was not looking forward to flying with a 4 month old at midnight.  So, we packed up the car and decided to drive and save our flights for another time.  The trip was a little tougher than last time.  Since Henry is awake quite a bit more, he got kinda bored and restless sitting in the car for 9 hours at a time.  He had one breakdown on the way up, and one on the way back.  Not too bad for 18+ hours in the car.

Henry's aunt Kerry graciously agreed to keep Henry on Saturday so JP and I could go with the Miller family to the Baylor-OSU game.  Another Ouch.  I'm going to guess the wind chill during that game was somewhere in the ballpark of 15-20 degrees.  I cannot remember ever being so cold.  Add the fact that Baylor played the worst game I have seen in a while, and it was a pretty miserable day.

We ended up getting "iced-in."  There was snow and ice south of us in Oklahoma, so we decided to stay an extra day to avoid some potentially dangerous roads.  Still, it was a nice 5 day change of scenery.

Wow, what a month!  We have been so busy, and the days just fly by!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Woman's Gift

And I'm back into philosophical mode and quite possibly into soap box mode...we'll see how this goes.  Just so you know, you've been warned.

I recently read a blog post that has been circulating around pinterest, facebook, and various other social media sources.  It's so unfair when a blog post goes viral, because inevitably people who don't belong to the target audience end up reading a post that was usually just meant as a personal collection and sharing of thoughts.  HOWEVER...we live in a global world.  Every time you click publish on a blog post, you have to know that many different people from many different walks of life are going to read what you write.  Not all responses will be positive.  I have a feeling I will make more people mad with the words that follow here, but I am willing to take that risk.  My heart has been burdened with the need to get this off of my chest, so here goes.

The gist of this blog post was about big families and having multiple children.  I have nothing against this, really.  If that's your desire and you have the means to support a large family, go for it!  There was one thing that stuck out to me that just did not resonate well with me, though.  The author said something that basically communicated that fertility is God's gift to women.  I don't necessarily disagree at surface level.  Yes, God decided to bless women and not men with the ability to carry and deliver children.  That is a simple fact of life, and something that separates the genders.  

But it got me thinking.  I think one of the BIGGEST ways the church fails women is in communicating this one little statement.  [I say church with a little c, meaning people who attend churches, versus church with a big C, meaning the collective bride of Christ.]  Every time the church tells women that their only job is to be a wife and raise children, I think they (we) run the risk of alienating a large group of women.  These women include working women, single women, widows, women with fertility issues, etc.  

I have to admit, I used to have a hard spot in my heart for stay at home moms.  This callous-ness was more a result of feeling judged by people than it was an actual dislike for women who stay at home.  I have many friends who stay at home with their kiddos and I think it is wonderful.  But a part of me cringes every time someone gives me a look that communicates they either disapprove of my desire to work, or they assume that I am working because I am financially required to work.  Both insult me.  Why can we not come to a place where we all acknowledge that the decision to work or stay at home or attempt both is a personal decision with no right or wrong answer?  But, I digress....

I fear that the church diminishes our role as women every time it implies that our only contribution is in birthing and raising children.  This is a HUGE role!  I have only come to realize how huge in the last few months.  I am not in any way trying to minimize the task that us mothers are given.  

HOWEVER...if birthing children is the only way we can serve God, then what does that say about the many women who will never have children?  What does that say about the many women who desire children so desperately but can never have them?  What about those courageous women who volunteer to raise other people's children through fostering, or women who choose to adopt children that they didn't physically birth?  These women still serve the Lord with the hearts, their individual talents, and their wonderful lives.  

I admit, I have never miscarried, and I have never struggled with fertility issues.  I can only imagine the distinct hurt and grief that those of you struggling with these issues go through.  I have heard women say that these are silent hurts that they feel they have to struggle through on their own.  Maybe this is because it is a deeply personal hurt that women don't want to share.   That is certainly a possibility.  But I wonder...if the church tells you that your only gift is to raise children, and you can't have them, does a small part of you feel like a failure?  If this is true, then shame on us, church...WE are the failure.  

We as a church are supposed to create an environment where people feel safe and loved.  Unfortunately, I fear, we have created an environment where people feel they have to meet a certain check list just to be allowed in our doors.  We've lost it, church.

There are so many examples of women in the Bible, and women in recent history that have brought so much glory to the Lord through lives without children.  These women are to be celebrated!  

To wrap this all up and attempt to tie it all together with as pretty a bow as I can manage...God tasks us all with different jobs.  You may be asked to be a mother, a teacher, a missionary, a preacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a nurse, an accountant...the list goes on and on.  Whatever we are called to do, let's do it well and quit picking on other women just because their calling looks different than ours.

That is all, Internet world.  Hopefully, I have managed to not offend at least a few.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How scary is SIDS?

SIDS has been on my mind lately.

Oh, SIDS...Literally every mama's worst nightmare.  This simple little acronym woke me from sleep, literally gasping for air because I thought my little one wasn't breathing.

When you are expecting, when you take your kiddo to the pediatrician, when you're in the hospital, frankly, when you're just thinking about having a kid, the topic on every tongue and plastered on every pediatrician's walls is SIDS.

So what is it and how scary is it?

SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  Let's break this down a little bit to make it a little easier to understand.

SUDDEN--as in, no warning.  There have been few, if any, symptoms that can reliably predict SIDS.

INFANT--refers to babies less than one year.

DEATH--I think this one is obvious.

SYNDROME--A syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms or characteristics that are frequently observed together.

Here are a few quick facts on SIDS:

1.  It is the leading cause of death in infants aged 1 month to 1 year.

2.  It is the 3rd leading cause of infant mortality in the United States.

3.  The incidence of SIDS deaths has decreased by 50% since the Back to Sleep campaign in 1994.

4.  The incidence peaks between 2 and 4 months of age.

5.  The incidence of SIDS related deaths is 0.5 per 1000 live births.

If you ask me, all of that sounds pretty scary.  If you break it down to an elementary level, it basically means that sometimes babies die and we don't know why.  The best that organizations like the AAP and CDC can do is to make recommendations of things that negatively correlate with SIDS: interpretation, if you do a, b or c, the risk of SIDS goes down.  We'll get to that later.

Is it real?  I admit, I have had my doubts at times.  Our society is one that loves a good campaign, right?  Let me assure you, I have had the misfortune of seeing a SIDS baby, and hearing the cries of a mama of a SIDS baby.  It is real, and it is heart-breaking every. single. time.  HOWEVER...0.5 per 1000 equates to 1 per 2000.  I don't know about you, but I don't know anywhere close to 2000 babies.  In all practicality, most of us will never have a personal connection to a SIDS related death.

I am an admitted worrier.  Although Henry is almost 4 months old, I still listen to him breathing in the middle of the night, just to assure myself that he is still alive.  As a worrier, I am one that can be tempted to pursue anything and everything that could possibly help me avoid an unwanted outcome.

Example: prior to Henry's birth, we bought a fabulously cute crib bumper.  It is soft and fluffy, and perfectly plaid.  After Henry learned to roll onto his tummy, he loves to roll ALL OVER his crib.  After one day of constantly checking the baby monitor to make sure that his face wasn't shoved into the bumper leading to his untimely death, I sent my hubby for an emergency Target run to invest in a mesh, breathable crib bumper.  Hello cheap, ugly bumper, goodbye expensive, beautiful Pottery Barn Kids bumper.

Example: I still go back and forth on whether to continue to allow Henry to sleep in our bedroom.  He doesn't sleep IN our bed, he sleeps beside it in his own little bed.  All three of us are great sleepers, so none of us are missing out on this arrangement.  So far, we have decided to keep him there.

Example: I researched several apnea monitors that are currently on the market.  There are several, and I won't call out brands here, but the concept is a nice one.  Clip this little doo-dad to baby's diaper, or place this object under baby's back, and it can alert you if baby stops breathing/moving.  I drew the line in the sand here, simply because I think the risk of a false alarm outweighed the possible benefits.  I can just picture myself jumping out of bed due to a false alarm and going into turbo infant CPR mode.  Not a pleasant picture.

So we have implemented the following recommendations.  They are reasonable and easy to implement.  This list is directly from the American Academy of Pediatrics.  If you're interested in reading the whole article, you can do so here.

1.  Put your baby on their back to sleep, every time.
2.  Use a firm sleep surface, covered by a fitted sheet.
3.  Room sharing, but not bed sharing, is recommended.
4.  Keep soft objects out of the crib.
5.  Pregnant mamas should go to the doctor for prenatal care.
6.  Avoid cigarette smoke exposure, both during and after pregnancy.
7.  Avoid alcohol and drug use, both during and after pregnancy.
8.  Breastfeed.
9.  Consider using a pacifier at naptime and bedtime.
10.  Avoid overheating.
11.  Immunize your baby.

That's the gist of the article.

At the end of the day, I have to remind myself that women have been having babies for centuries upon centuries without miracle devices and gadgets so that I don't drift into the realm of ridiculousness.  I toe the line between concerned, protective mama and full-out crazy lady sometimes, but these few measures help to keep me somewhat grounded.

Conclusion: SIDS is scary, but is also (relatively) rare.  Go with your gut, trust your instincts.  At the end of the day, a well-rested mama makes for a happy family, so choose whatever helps you sleep at night.

**Disclaimer: Although I am a medical professional, the above rantings and musings are my personal opinions as a mama, coupled with the suggestions of the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Finally....Henry's nursery!

So, I know Henry is almost 4 months and everything, but I figured better late than never.

Sorry for the delay, folks.  As a mommy of a newborn, a self-proclaimed perfectionist, and a preggo that never experienced nesting, I didn't feel that his nursery was truly "done" until recently.  A lot of love and planning went into this room, and my hope is that we have given him a space that is all his own; an environment that encourages growth and development; a safe place for him to come home to.

And now, without further ado, I will now give you a virtual tour of Henry's nursery.

Starting with Henry's door.  This is the one and only hand-made project that I completed prior to Henry's arrival.  I made it the week after we found out that Henry was a he.




Here is the other side of Henry's door.  Lest he forget his own name, you will see it posted in various places around his room.  This was made by my talented SIL, and was featured at our Tulsa shower.


Next up is the crib.  We chose this particular one because it converts into a toddler bed and also into a headboard and footboard for a full sized bed.  In other words, this bed has the potential to grow with Henry.

Side view

Henry's view from the inside, featuring plaid and planes.
Now, my personal favorite spot...the reading corner.

Because if I have anything to do with it, my son will be a reader.  READERS ARE LEADERS!

The storage cabinet featuring one of my favorite shower gifts.





The shadowbox has one of my Dad's baby outfits and a picture of
him wearing this outfit in 1952.
















Now a tour of some of the wall art.
A unique piece of art with a plane made of tiny pieces of paper cut from magazines,
flanked by two of the verses I like to pray over Henry.

An authentic WWII airplane propeller that was JP's and made it through his house fire--it's one of JP's favorite childhood items and he is so excited to pass it to Henry.
Some pictures of my Grandad who was a turret ball gunner in WWII.
Henry's middle name Robert, came from this wonderful man.

Another original from my talented SIL.

Finally, a few shots that put it all together.



And there you have it! 





Friday, November 1, 2013

Tick tock.



Time.

I think my biggest enemy is time.

It seems like no matter what I do, there is never enough.

Word of warning: I was in a liberal arts program in college, and I am about to get really profound here.

One of the "curses" of earthly beings is that we are restricted to linear time.  We have no choice in the matter.  No matter what we do to try to stop time, slow it down, or control it, the seconds tick on by.  Seconds turn to minutes, which turn to hours, then days, and suddenly weeks have gone by without you noticing.

In some of my philosophical moments, I wonder if this isn't one of the "curses" we brought on ourselves in the infamous Garden of Eden scandal.  I mean, at some point, Adam and Eve physically walked with God and communed with Him.  I believe God exists outside of time, so did that mean Adam and Eve did also?  I wonder...

Fast forward a few hundred years to the giving of the Mosaic Law.  God commands us to have a Sabbath.  Doesn't this seem strange to you?  Don't murder one another, don't worship other gods...those make total sense to me.  But take one day a week to rest?  Don't mind if I do!  It seems like the easiest one on the list.  But do we keep the Sabbath?  I'm sad to say that probably 50/52 weeks of the year we do not.

Why is it so hard to just freaking rest?!

Could it be because I am always mentally making a list of things "to-do?"  And the list just keeps getting longer....

These days, it seems people are constantly competing for who is busier.  Gather any group of people together and they will eventually start comparing notes on who has the least amount of time.  Honestly?  Although it's a game that I frequently participate in, I don't want to win this one.  Why do we equate busy-ness with importance?  Do I somehow matter more if I have less free time?

I think God knew this.  See...I think God knew that there would be people like me in the 21st century that struggle to sit down and just be.  I think He knew this before TVs, iPads, iPhones, and the thousands of other distractions that we are so proud of ourselves for inventing.

In all fairness, He tried to warn us, y'all.

The past couple of weeks have been non-stop in our house.  I seriously feel like JP and I are playing a constant game of tag--you're it.  With going back to work, it seems like there is a constant hand off between us, with very little time for the two of us together.  We have plenty of family time, but it is really hard to ignore Henry and spend time just the two of us.

I don't have any sage words of wisdom this week.  This is just me dumping my problems onto the Internet for everyone to read in the hopes that others feel the same way, and might have some words of encouragement or advice.

I leave you with this beautiful metaphor of time from one of my favorite movies, Finding Neverland.


Mrs Snow to J.M. Barrie: "I suppose it's like the ticking crocodile, isn't it?  Time is chasing after all of us, isn't that right?"

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Mommy Club

When I first started telling people that I was pregnant, I remember a friend telling me, "Welcome to the Mommy Club!"

Love this little guy for making me a Mommy

I thought this was strange.  I mean, really, a club where the only commonality is the fact that you have managed to pro-create?  What would I really have in common with millions of women?

But as I have been fully initiated into this club with the birth of my son, I have come to find that this is a real life club.  We don't have fancy name badges, t-shirts or a pithy slogan, but it is an exclusive club nonetheless.  There is no secret handshake, although there are many knowing glances exchanged.  Knowing glances that communicate, "I've been there, I can empathize."

I have come to depend on this sorority-of-sorts.  I'm quick to ask for advice, and quick to give it when someone asks.  There's a camaraderie that exists between people who have walked in your shoes, or at least shoes that are similar.  There's comfort in the knowledge that so many others have blazed the trails ahead of you.  I pull from their strength and courage, and share my own with those behind me.  I encourage other mothers to do the same.

I think it is so important to have a mommy support group.  Whether it is phone calls across the continent, or a neighborhood Mom and me group, we all have those moments when our world seems too big and we seem too small and we need someone to push us through those last few hours of the day.

Something about physically birthing another human being has made me feel so empowered as a woman.  Even my running has improved, because I know what my body is capable of.  It's simply amazing to me how much change a woman's body goes through in preparation for labor and delivery, and everything (almost) goes back to normal.  

Let this be an encouragement for us women to stick together.  Shame on me for ever judging another woman or mother.  My hope for my generation of women is that we can link arms together, rather than scrambling to climb on another's shoulders for our own advancement.  We are charged with raising the next generation.  This is not a job to be taken lightly and we need all the encouragement we can get!  Let's commit to fighting the crimes against our sex: trafficking, child labor, women's rights, gender equality.  Let's stand together for the advancement of our children and give our sons and daughters role models they can be proud of!

My parting thought is this...Let our resounding cry be "Eshet Chayil," which means "woman of valor!"  I know I have frequently felt bogged down by the idea of trying to be the Proverbs 31 woman.  I mean, who has the time to do all of those things?  If this is you, I encourage you to read A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.  You can find a brief clip of her book and Jen Hatmaker's comments here.  

Eshet Chayil!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

3 months old!

This past weekend marked my sweet little man turning 3 months old!  



I know you probably get tired of hearing this, but I am constantly amazed at how quickly time flies!  I had the opportunity to hold an 8 day old several days ago, and I was amazed at how tiny it was.  I really cannot remember him being that small, even though he was.

The transition from month 2 to month 3 has brought so many fun, new things!  Henry is really discovering his mouth.  He can smile, laugh, and is constantly cooing and babbling.  He is almost constantly moving his mouth in some way, whether he is sucking on his bottom lip, sucking on his hand, or sticking out his tongue.  About 1 week ago, he transitioned from sucking on his whole fist to just sucking on his thumb.  We haven't really encouraged the use of a pacifier, since he doesn't really like it, but he has really taken to his thumb.  He has really figured out how to self-soothe with his thumb, which has led to better nap times and longer sleep at night, which I can't argue with.  He is also so much more interactive.  He definitely knows his Mommy and Daddy!  He will let anyone hold him, but he will look for us across a room.  He also has gained better control of his body.  He can hold his head up when he is on his tummy, and can sit with very little assistance.  He can put most of his weight on his legs when standing, as long as we are holding him, of course.  


Such a handsome little man.

We had a very busy weekend, and Henry was a trooper.  Our church has a program called Big Night Out, where they offer childcare and encourage young married couples to go out for a date night.  We were happy to take advantage of this service, and were so excited to get to go out to dinner with some friends and enjoy adult conversation without having to constantly check on the baby...very liberating :)

Saturday morning, we had our first follow up missions event from our Houston 1:8 site this summer.  I never got around to writing a post about Houston 1:8, since Henry came one short week later.  Houston 1:8 is a mission trip of sorts that our church sponsors.  There are around 15 different sites around the city.  The idea is for people to volunteer after work for the week and get involved in the community.  JP and I have coordinated a site for the past 3 years.  We have actually had 3 different sites in 3 years, but this past year we served at a site called Sunblossom Mountain apartments.  The majority of the people residing in this apartment complex are international refugees, mostly coming from central/East Asia.  This is such a unique opportunity to reach internationals since they are literally in our backyard.  We had a VBS program of sorts for the young kids, and separate programs for the teenage boys and girls.  We also were able to reach a small group of women through arts and crafts.  We had an evangelism and prayer team that walked around the complex and tried to engage other adults in conversations about their various religious backgrounds and speak to them about Jesus.  This is one of my favorite things about our church, which is why we pour so much of our time into this event.  This is also why we decided to go ahead and continue coordinating the event even though we knew I would be 37 weeks pregnant.  The Lord provides, what can I say?


Our team

To make a very long story short, due to the success of the event, we felt like there was an amazing opportunity to set up ongoing ministry at this complex.  We had our first event this past Saturday, where we joined forces with the apartment and Houston Police Department to speak out against domestic abuse and provide food and community for the residents.  Again, the event was a huge success and opened doors for us to continue our ministry there.  It was also Henry's first official "mission trip" since being out of the womb.

Some of the kids waiting for food

Saturday night we had some friends over to watch the Bears dominate in football!  They ended up winning 71-7 and are now #5 in the Coach's Poll and #6 in the AP poll.  Sic 'em Bears!  

Sunday morning we got up and went to church, then had lunch with some friends and their 1 year old, Annabelle.  Although she is a little older, maybe when he grows a little we can fix a little arranged marriage between them...whaddya say Liz?

Henry wore this little number to church to commemorate the Bears' victory

Sunday evening, we went to the park for Henry's 3 month pictures.  We got some good family shots as well that you will probably see in our Christmas card.  Henry was such a trooper!  He was very tired, and his schedule was a little off, but we managed to get some smiles from him :)  So excited to see how they turn out!

So cute and matching...not planned at all :)
(photo courtesy of Grace Hill Photography)
We love you, sweet Henry, and are so excited to see what the next month brings!




Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dear Daddies of newborns...

(This may or may not also be a brag-about-my-husband post)

Ok Dads, let's huddle up for a minute and talk about this.

In the first few days that we came home from the hospital, I think it's safe to say that we had no concept of how to be prepared for a newborn.  In all reality, I don't think you can be, you just roll with the punches.  I think JP really struggled with the fact that he did not have a big part to play.  Every man envisions being best buddies with their little guys...you know, hunting, fishing, throwing a football, playing catch.  But these are all things that take quite a few years to develop.  Especially in the first year of life, the burden is almost all on Mama.

Let's set some expectations here.

First of all, know that there is a limited amount you can contribute.  Unless baby is exclusively formula-fed, only Mama can satisfy those frequent hunger cries.

Second, baby has been hearing Mom's heartbeat and voice constantly for almost 10 months.  Baby recognizes Mom more than he recognizes you.  Sorry...that's just the way it is.  I know JP was frustrated at first because it took him much longer than it took me to calm Henry down when he was fussy.

Lastly, you will drop the ball...fumble the ball...or royally screw up and throw a pick six.  (Note to self: don't unplug the deep freezer with all of the pumped breast milk...not that that happened to us or anything, just saying...)  Keep your head up...as much as Mom may scream at you for doing it wrong, deep down, she loves you in a completely new way for bring her a little bundle of joy.

To sum this all up:

Expect to feel completely replaceable.

Here's the thing, though....

Only you are Daddy, and you are NOT replaceable.  You will forever hold a special part of your little one's heart that can be filled only by you.  You have arguably the biggest job of their little lives.  You are their earthly representation of what a father is, which will forever frame their idea of who their HEAVENLY Father is.  Those are some huge shoes to fill.  Think about it.

Look for ways that you can be involved.  JP did a wonderful job at this.  There were three main things that hubby OWNED when we came home from the hospital.

1.  He cleans the bottles and my breast-pump parts.  This may sound trivial, but washing those little intricate pieces every day is very tedious.  When he went back to work, he would wake up extra early to go downstairs and wash parts so that they were clean and dry when I got up with Henry.  Yay hubby!

2.  When he is home, he does 95% of the diaper changing.  JP changes diapers like a BOSS!  Since he still can't help with the feeding, this is their special time together...sounds weird, I know, but I swear they both enjoy it.  It's also a nice break for me.  Win, win, win.

3.  He is in charge of keeping me hydrated.  If you think you know what it feels like to be thirsty, just wait until you're breastfeeding.  Oh man...I think I go through 4-5 Liters of water a day.  LITERS, y'all!  I stole was given the humongous water jug to take home from the hospital, and every time I sit down to feed, JP fills it up with ice water for me.  Again, this sounds silly, but it is so helpful and oh so important.

These are just a few suggestions on ways you can go all-in and help your wife while also bonding with your little one.  Whatever jobs you find to do will be so appreciated by both Mom and kiddo.  I think these little jobs also give you  more confidence that you can handle your precious little newbie.

That's all I've got.  BREAK!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Back to work.

Nothing about this journey of motherhood has been what I expected.

Tuesday October 8th was my first shift back at work since July 20th.  It was the day that had been looming on the horizon; one that I both welcomed and dreaded.  I think anytime you circle a date on your calendar, you inevitably start a mental time clock counting down to its arrival.

Prior to Henry's arrival, I planned on taking 8 weeks of maternity leave.  This, in theory, was an adequate amount of time for me to initiate and maintain the maternal bond between mother and son.  Then July 20th happened.  Out came Henry, two weeks early, and 8 weeks turned into 10 weeks.  Then, because I work shift-work, I wasn't scheduled until October 8th, which made 11 weeks total.  11 weeks.  As in, almost 3 months.  As in a 1/4 of a year.  If you had asked me pre-Henry if I saw myself staying at home for 11 weeks, I would have answered with a resounding, "No way!"  I thought I would be clamoring to get out of the house and back to work.

I thought staying home would be hard.  I imagined that I would have so much time on my hands that I would be desperately bored.  Let's get real here.  In my line of work, I get paid for my productivity.  A person in the billing department can easily figure out exactly how profitable I am.  Looking back over the last 11 weeks, I can't think of very much that I "accomplished," but somehow each day was completely full.  Full of what, you ask?  Feeding, burping, diaper changes...those are the quantifiable things.  The rest of my day was filled with loving on my son.  Others tout motherhood as a thank-less job, but I see gratitude in my Henry's big blue eyes.  The seemingly menial tasks of being a mommy make Henry feel loved and secure, which will shape him into a confident and loving man.  That is thanks enough.  The love of my son fills a part of my heart that I never knew was empty.

After Henry, I thought going back to work would be harder.  I imagined a traumatic tear-filled goodbye, with the nanny prying my child out of my hands.  That was not the case.  In truth, I missed my job, I missed my co-workers.  I missed using my education that I have made countless sacrifices for.  I loved my job before Henry, and I love it just as equally now.  My job is not thank-less.  While there are certainly annoying aspects to my job, it is also incredibly fulfilling.  My job fills a part of my heart that is separate from my family.  Being at work is resting in the knowledge that I am using my God-given talent to help others.

I don't regret my decision to be a working mom.  Working in the ER makes me appreciate life and cherish every moment with my son.  Being a mommy gives me compassion and empathy, which makes me a better PA.  Each role fuels the other.  I pray that as Henry grows, he will see a mom that he loves and respects.  I hope that this love and respect comforts him in those moments of his life that I will inevitably miss.  I hope that this love and respect will teach him what to look for in a wife and mother of his own children.

Am I sad to leave him?  Of course.
Do I worry that I will miss integral parts of his life?  All the time.

But all mommies have fears.  All mommies are plagued with nightmares of not being there.  All mommies second-guess the decisions they make that will shape their children forever.  We would not be good mommies if we didn't worry.

I'm not saying I'll never change my mind.  But for now, I find comfort in the fact that I am where I belong.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Henry's first road trip.

This past weekend we took our little man on his first road trip.

Our destination: Tulsa

Our mission: see as much family in as little amount of time as possible

Day 1: JP headed into work to finish up some last minute things while I fed Henry and assembled all of his necessary items.  I also packed up some snacks and drinks so we only had to stop to feed Henry and not ourselves :) JP made it home and we packed our car in record time.  We pulled out of our driveway at 1:20 pm.  Our goal was to make it the whole way to Tulsa (normally a 7-8 hour drive), but we told ourselves we would stop whenever we needed to.  We stopped at the famous Buc-ee's in Madisonville for a pit stop and for Henry's feeding #1.  We made it to Dallas in record time, however, Dallas traffic was an absolute nightmare.  We had the brilliant idea of trying to take a different route around the city.  Bad idea.  It took us two hours to go roughly 40 miles from South of Dallas to Plano.  We stopped in Plano for Henry's feeding #2, and ate dinner at In-N-Out Burgers.  We continued our journey into Oklahoma, where we stopped in lovely Atoka, OK for feeding #3 in a wonderful Wal-Mart parking lot.  We pushed it the rest of the way until we got to my parents' house right before midnight.  Whew!  Long day.

So excited to be on the road!

Day 2:  We slept in to recover from our long day #1, then got up to meet JP's family at Zoe's Kitchen.  We then headed to JP's sister's house where Henry met his aunt Kerry and uncle Frank and his cousins, Brandon and Brad.  Later, Henry's aunt Jenny and uncle Marty and cousins Hunter and Cole came over and joined us for dinner.  Of course, Henry put on a show and flirted with all the ladies :)

Henry and his Gramma
Henry & aunt Jenny (or FA for favorite aunt)



















Day 3: We had a lazy morning with Henry's Mimi and Papa until uncle Jordan came home from school.

Uncle Jordan feeding Henry


We all watched the Oklahoma State/WVU game until Henry's great-grandmother, my Granny, came over.  Henry LOVED being held by her.  He took two long naps in her arms.  A cold front was blowing through, so Granny rocked him on the porch, covered by a blanket, and he was so cozy.

Henry and his great-grandmother, Granny

Later that afternoon, Henry's great aunt Robin and Leslie came over for dinner.  Henry did so great, talking and smiling as he was passed from person to person.  Then, we watched the Arkansas/Texas A&M game, which didn't end the way we wanted, but we did get to see this fabulous little number:

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=9745181&categoryid=2378529

Day 4: We had another lazy morning, then ate a late breakfast with Mimi and Papa.  We packed everything up again and headed out of Tulsa around 12:30.  We made it almost all the way to the state line, but had to stop in Durant, OK for a feeding and some Braum's fresh-squeezed limeades.  As we crossed into Texas, we welcomed Henry to his home state with a moving rendition of "Deep in the Heart of Texas."  We continued our trek through Texas until we stopped in Fairfield, TX for another feeding.  Henry was wide awake at this point, having slept a lot more than is normal for him during the day.  I sat with him in the back and tried to pre-occupy him as best I could.

Not too thrilled to be back in the car for another 9 hour drive

Around 8:00, when it was dark outside, he sensed that I was trying to shush him to sleep and threw a medium to large sized tantrum.  He cried off and on for about 30 minutes before he crashed.  He woke up right as we were pulling into our neighborhood around 9:00.

Goodness, this weekend absolutely flew by!  While we considered this an extremely successful trip, we also decided we will prrrrrobably be flying next time :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Baby-not-so-Wise

My name is Megan, and I am a control freak.  Whew!  Glad to get that one off my chest!  I know many of you are clutching your hearts in absolute shock and awe right now, but it's true.

After we got pregnant, I received a lot of recommendations regarding BabyWise.  The idea of BabyWise is so intriguing.  Getting your baby to sleep through the night by 8 weeks?  Seriously?  That sounded absolutely amazing!  It still sounds amazing, although we have passed the 8 week mark without making it 8 hours yet.  After implementing its principles since Henry was born, I have come to both love and hate BabyWise.  I have not disavowed BabyWise; in fact, I'm still following most of its recommendations; however, I am not treating it as the be-all-end-all for Henry's life.

BabyWise IS:

1.  A great resource to help shape your goals and approach to parenting

2.  A great compromise between attachment parenting and strict scheduling

3.  A guide to implementing a routine

4.  A well researched book with lots of data to back up its claims.


BabyWise IS NOT:

1.  A manual or how-to for every scenario that will come up.

2.  A perfect equation where input always results in the desired output.

3.  The only good source on sleep habits.

4.  Necessarily for every child


I began questioning the role of BabyWise in our lives when my husband pointed out that I was very grouchy at Henry's middle of the night feeding.  (I mean, who wouldn't be grumpy?!)  Around 3-4 in the morning, I would hear Henry cry, throw back the covers and give an overly exaggerated sigh of frustration after looking at the clock and seeing that it did not read 7 AM.  Where did this frustration come from?

I also may or may not have consulted my digital copy of BabyWise at 3 in the morning wondering, "Where is the answer for this problem?!"  "How can BabyWise not address this issue?!"  BabyWise was officially on a pedestal that needed a little more gravitational pull.

It is an absolute joy to feed Henry.  I try to cherish these moments because they won't last forever, and it's a special bonding time between just me and him.  Also, I know many women who struggle or just can't produce the milk required to breast feed despite the desire to do so.  Yet it's something that is easy to take for granted.  It's so easy to zone out during that time and not engage with Henry.  Whether it's watching tv or perusing Pinterest, anything that steals my attention away from my precious boy is robbing both of us of one of the great joys of motherhood.  After all, how long will I be able to hold my son's undivided attention?

These past few weeks have been challenging.  I love being needed, but it's not so fun when your child "needs" to fall asleep in your arms every. single. time.  It's not so fun when your child wakes up from his nap after 10 minutes because you are not holding him every. single. time.  I have recently tried really hard to put Henry down at the FIRST sign of sleepiness.  It really does make a world of difference in his fussiness level.  But it also leaves me with less time with him, because he is only awake about 30-45 minutes after his feedings.  Bummer.  I want more play time.

We have also had to "tweak" our schedule a little.  Although I read that a "full" feeding takes 10-15 minutes per breast, if Henry eats that much at each feeding, he will have a projectile spit up later because he has GERD.  Not pretty.

The lesson I have learned in all of this is that my baby does not fit in a box.  I'm sure you think this is a monumental revelation.  I realized that I was putting pressure on my child to meet certain markers because a book told me he should be meeting them.  Dumb.  Really dumb.  Henry is growing well, eating well, sleeping well, progressing well, and meeting all of his developmental milestones.  WHO CARES if it takes him an extra couple of weeks to start "sleeping through the night?"

And honestly...so he's in the 15% of babies who doesn't sleep 8 hours through the night by 8 weeks...I'm teaching him early not to follow the crowd, right?

The big lesson in all of this is that I desperately want to be a parent that provides an environment for my child to flourish and develop into the unique individual that he is.  I don't want projections of who I think he SHOULD be to overpower the person he was created to be.  I don't want to set him up for a lifetime of feeling like he has to sacrifice himself to please me.  As a do-or-die people pleaser, I know how hard it can be to spend your life in a perpetual merry-go-round, constantly chasing after the unattainable prize of exceeding everyone's expectations.  That is NOT what I want for my child.

So I'm temporarily shelving my copy of BabyWise.  Oh, I'm sure I will still consult it from time to time, but from here on out, I am giving my child the freedom to be his beautiful self.