Motherhood Update: Annie at 9 months

The other day we were driving home from Franklin and Annie decided she had had enough of her carseat. She started to fuss and threatened actual tears real fast if something wasn’t done. Taylor started singing “Old Mac Donald had a farm” and she instantly stopped crying and watched us oh so seriously from her little mirror. After we got done with all your basic farm animals (cow, chicken, dog) we stopped singing because what animals were left? Then we heard an “ugh” from Annie as if to say, again. More. Encore. Next thing I knew Taylor was singing Old Mac Donald had a giraffe, e-i-e-i-o! I would sing the song and he would make the most hilarious, and terribly accurate, animal sounds to match each one, including a fish, llama, frog and butterfly. Taylor was beaming and Annie was giggling and on that ordinary afternoon drive home I was reminded what a special season we’re in as a family.

Motherhood Update: Annie at 9 months

Eating: Milk is still her #1 but she is super interested in anything we’re eating and wants to try everything – unless it’s peas. Her favorites include avocado, black beans, any and all pureed fruit and strawberry yogurt, which leaves her smelling like Fruity Pebbles.

Sleeping: She’s been a champion sleeper, typically out from 7:30am-7:00pm, but teething has got her sometimes waking up for a snack around 3:00am. I may be half asleep but I have tried to find the joy in the extra time spent with my girl when the rest of the world is sleeping.

Doing: Annie spends most of her waking hours smiling at whoever she’s with and looking through her books – she loves to pat each page. She also has started waving at anyone and everyone, which is especially hilarious when we’re out and she waves at every car and person we pass. Our pediatrician joked that she could be a Wal-Mart greeter for the baby aisle. Oh, and she loves to give wet, slobberific kisses and press her cheek against your’s to show love.

Saying: Hiiiii, Dada, and a whole bunch of gibberish that does not include Mama yet.

Favorite songs: Jesus Loves Me, Old MacDonald and Good Day Sunshine (The Beatles).

Latest biggest milestone: She has been army crawling for a couple of weeks now. She started at a snail’s pace but now she is able to get wherever she wants to go in record time.

Sweetest thing she does: When she’s sleepy or needs to calm herself down from a fussy spell she rubs her neck with her chubby, little hands.

Hardest part of this age: The more food she eats, the smellier the poops.

Favorite part of this age: I love our morning routine and how thrilled she is to see us in the morning. She talks to herself until I go in to get her. She’s usually on all fours, looking at the door, waiting for us to come pick her up to start the day. Once she sees us, she grins the biggest grin and squeals with joy. After a quick diaper change we head to the kitchen where she helps me make the coffee and then she gets squeals as I feed her strawberry yogurt.

Annie at 9 months, is, in one word: JOYFUL

then I loved my mother more

I have always loved my mother. Of course we had our moments where we fought like sisters and Dad would have to tell us to each go to our rooms – hello, high school – but I have always loved my mom. Respected her. Thanked God for her because I knew she was something special. I grew up, got married, and she became my best friend.

Then I got pregnant.

Then I was in labor for hours and hours and pushed for what felt like eternity.

Then I brought our baby girl home and struggled through the ups and downs of those first few weeks with a tiny human to care for around the clock.

Then I loved my mother more.

I related to her in a new way – through the lens of a tired, joyful, overwhelmed young mama who for the first time appreciated the woman who years ago had prayed for God to allow her to keep this baby after so much loss. My mother – who was told by doctors her baby would be born with too may birth defects and should be aborted. Who, along with her husband, prayed feverishly in secret for the remainder of her pregnancy for a healthy baby girl with all of her fingers and toes. A woman who was in labor for hours and hours and cried happy tears when her baby was laid on her chest, perfectly healthy.

When I was in labor, my sweet husband stood beside me and my mom often came to my other side to check on me. To cheer me on. Once our baby girl arrived and family was allowed in the room she came right to my side, checking on me first before delicately holding our baby tightly in her arms. Beaming from ear to ear. Of all the major life moments we had shared, this was the most profound. She had birthed me, and now helped me to give birth to my own baby girl. Different years, different hospital rooms, same love.

After we came home from the hospital, Mom stayed with us for a week, easily one of the most special times in my life. I cried the afternoon she drove away, thinking of her in a new light. How she was once a brand new mom with a brand new baby that she had prayed for and fought for. How she once woke up with me on the hour every hour to nurse me back to sleep and then watched me to make sure I was still breathing. How she leaned on her husband, my dad, for support and encouragement when the mom thing was new and scary and exciting. I thought of my mom, now a Nana, and for the first time I started to understand the gravity and intricate joy, and pain, of motherhood.

How could I love her more?, I thought. But somehow, I did.

I’ll love you forever, Mom.

sometimes you can’t have both

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I’m not sure when I became a neat freak. I remember the days when Mom had to practically bribe me to pick up the clothes strewn across my room but oh man sometime between middle school and marriage I changed. I like the house to be clean. Tidy. No mess in the kitchen and no clothes on the floor. My husband called me Monica Geller the other day because I told him I couldn’t rest until I at least took care of the dirty dishes in the sink. Yep, being an adult is weird sometimes.

Beds made and floors cleaned – I’m a happy girl.

No one told me I couldn’t have that and a child too, but it wasn’t long before I realized I would stress myself into a heart attack if I continued in my neat freak ways. Annie is only five months old but she is a messy little princess. She drools, knocks things over, poops on EVERYTHING and grabs everything in her reach – and she’s not even crawling yet. Her latest obsession is laughing at herself in the mirror and then kissing herself, and whoever is holding her, by kissing the mirror. I cannot express to you how much joy she gets out of doing this and how magical it is to be apart of.

The other day Annie was playing in the living room with Taylor so I was busy trying to fold the massive mound of laundry on the twin bed in her nursery. I was furiously folding tiny onesies and towels, noting the next item I would tackle on my tidy to-do list before she needed to eat again when I noticed the mirror. It’s an antique mirror that hangs above the rocker and her favorite to laugh at and kiss while I’m holding her. We start most every day singing songs and giving kisses in the mirror and I noticed every square inch was smudged. Smudged with the remnants of sweet, drooly baby kisses.

That’s when I realized that maybe I can’t have both right now. I can either spend time doing laundry and making sure all the mirrors are sparkling or I dance around the kitchen like a lunatic to make my baby girl belly laugh. I can either embrace the mess or miss this sweet season that goes by too fast.

I choose drooly kisses and smudgy mirrors.

Everything else can wait.

xo

 

Monthly Motherhood Update: Annie at 4 months

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Similar to my monthly pregnancy series, I’ve decided to start documenting what’s new with Annie Lou on an every-other-month-or-so basis. She’s changing so rapidly and I want to remember these little details forever.

Motherhood Update: Annie at 4 months

Eating: Milk, milk and more milk. Some days she eats so much I honestly have no idea where she puts it. Luckily she takes a bottle from everyone but me so BONUS I can leave the house without her and we all survive.

Sleeping: She’s always been a good sleeper so we’ve been pretty spoiled. She no longer wakes up for middle-of-the-night feedings/diaper changes – PRAISE – so typically she sleeps from 9pm-5am. She wakes up hangry so I feed her and then she passes back out for another couple hours. #dreambaby

Doing: Rocking tummy time. Rolling over both ways when she wants to but never when I try to take a video of her for the grandparents. Laughing more and more. Smiling and talking non-stop. She gets super excited during bath time and even more excited when music is playing.

Saying: Of course everything is in mumbly-baby talk but she is quite the conversationalist, especially during quiet times at church or while on her playmat at home. She has about mastered saying “goo” thanks to us all telling her she’s a “good girl” from birth and we’ve started hearing “ma” and “da” in the midst of her ramblings. The sweetest is that lately she likes to talk herself to sleep so of course I’m a puddle.

Sweetest thing she does: She likes to put her tiny baby hands on either side of your face when you’re talking to her. She really looks at you and smiles that big toothless smile and you can’t help but melt.

Favorite part of this age: It’s incredible to watch her discover everything for the first time. Like when she noticed her feet for the first time. Or that there’s a cute baby looking at her in the mirror. Or that snow is cold and Buddy is soft. Everything is brand new and there are a million firsts each month.

Annie at 4 months, is, in one word: Happy.

Married Life: A letter to my husband after we’ve had a baby

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To my husband after we’ve had a baby,

It was impossible for us to know what any of this would be like, this new season. We went into labor and delivery rookies, relying on our childbirth classes and Google for our limited knowledge. You calmed my nerves and held my hand through every contraction. You prayed us through the scary parts and ugly cried as we met our baby girl for the first time. You told me how proud you were of me and my “superhuman strength” and you helped me with well, everything in the tough days after when I felt like my strength had left me.

So here we are now, with a 5-week-old who has a smile just like your’s and you still tell me how proud you are of me. Of us. Of our little family. Day in and day out, you tell me how beautiful I am even when my hair is 97% dry shampoo. You turn your head when I eat five of the lactation cookies we both know I made just so I can have cookies. You never protest when I tell you I need Starbucks and to walk around Target for a couple hours. Never speak a word of my mood swings. Never flip out when I say I’m crying for no reason or because “she’s growing too fast.” You listen to me. You help make the major changes not seem so major. You take me on dates because you know we need time to focus on us. You love me just the same. No, scratch that, you love me more. You carefully push me to be the best version of myself. This new version of myself.

Some days are hard and some nights we don’t get much sleep between the diaper changes and feedings. Some days I don’t get a shower and walk around for hours with dried milk and spit up all over me. You never hesitate to jump in and finish dinner when she decides its time to eat – again – and you never complain when I pass her to you with a dirty diaper the second you walk in the door so I can pee. You change basically all the diapers and have learned to make the best half-caff coffee. You wake up extra early to clean the kitchen while I feed/pump/feed because you “don’t want me to have to worry with it.”

And so I thank you.

For telling me I’m a good mom. For loving me. No matter what I look like or how I feel. Thank you for always thinking I am the prettiest. The best. The sexiest. Even when I don’t feel like it. I am going to work hard on loving myself the way that you love me because the way you love me is the greatest way of all. I love being your wife and I love doing the parent thing with you. I thank God every day for this sacred season and I know the best is yet to come.

I love you more. xo

our perfect gift from God: Annie’s Birth Story

Our due date came and went without so much as an ache or contraction. I never felt better! In the words of my doctor at our last appointment she was “comfy cozy” where she was, despite my eating copious amounts of eggplant parmesan and walking every hill in our neighborhood multiple times a day. It was decided that if she hadn’t come on her own by the next week we would induce.

Waiting for a baby to arrive is like waiting for Santa to arrive except you’re not sure when he’ll actually show up and you can’t stop eating all the cookies. Honestly it became quite comical because every night Taylor and I would pray my water would break. Every time I moved Taylor jumped and asked how I was feeling. I sent so many texts to my Mom and best girlfriends about every possible “labor is coming soon” symptom possible and used an embarrassing amount of exclamation points. I drank red raspberry leaf tea non-stop all weekend and started having mild contractions that were a bit uncomfortable but wildly exciting. Finally something was starting to happen!

At 40 weeks and 5 days there was still no sign of Annie budging. My parents and brother came to town and we all went out for a final meal of my favorite Italian. When Dad told our waitress I was about to have a baby she brought me chocolate mousse on the house and yes, I ate every last bit of it. At 9pm that night Taylor and I made our way to the hospital. I was terrified – mostly of all the unknowns of the experience. Would it be super painful? Would the epidural actually work? What would pushing feel like? Would Annie be a healthy baby? My incredible husband held my hand and said the most precious prayer as we drove, knowing we would be meeting our baby girl soon. We both cried.

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We checked into the hospital and greeted the nurses on the floor with a huge batch of homemade cookies because who doesn’t love cookies? We were shown to our corner room (!!!) and soon I was in the glamourous hospital gown and chatting with our first incredible nurse, Amanda. She calmed our nerves by explaining most everything and encouraged us to try and sleep as much as possible during the night. We watched the “birth episodes” of both Friends and The Office – classics – and then I finally fell asleep during our favorite, The Holiday. My contractions started getting more intense during the early morning and Taylor was so wonderful to hold my hand through each one. We probably slept 3, 4 hours tops.

The next morning we met our incredible nurse with the great hair and even better attitude, Julie. I loved her from the start – she told us how she always pays close attention to details and would explain every little step of the process. She had me at “details.” She started the pitocin drip which kicked my contractions into high gear and while my pain was increasing I was so excited to feel something happening. Soon my doctor (whom I am borderline obsessed with) came in to confirm things were progressing nicely and I was ready for my epidural. Relief flooded my body. Dr. Rupe broke my waters and then it was time for my epidural, which by that point I was more than ready for thanks to my low threshold for pain and increasingly intense contractions. Julie held my hands and Taylor held my legs as I leaned over the bed with my pillow while the super nice anesthesiologist made all my dreams come true. I was shocked how quickly the medicine took effect but also how I was still able to move my legs.

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My parents got there soon after, remarking on how calm I seemed. I told them they had missed pre-epidural me and Taylor gave them a quick update from the night before. Taylor and Dad watched my contractions build on the big machine next to my bed while Mom and I chatted. My brother and his fiance got there and they all watched Jaws while bundling up in blankets. Hours ticked by and I kept dilating. My good friend and nurse on the floor, Paige, came in to chat for a bit. Friends, family, movies, and God’s miracle drug? This was not so bad at all.

Then, in the early afternoon we had a scare when Julie noticed Annie’s heart rate would drop with each strong contraction. She was concerned. Rupe came and told me they would closely monitor us both but if things didn’t calm down she would have to perform a c-section. I was terrified but trusted Rupe and Julie. She turned off my pitocin and it was up to my body to keep labor progressing. Taylor took my hand and we prayed. After being closely monitored for an hour Julie told us my contractions were building and Annie’s heart rate was doing just fine. Praise the Lord!

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My dearest friend Ashley came after work and stayed by my side, encouraging me and making us all laugh. I was given oxygen to help me rest while I ate popsicles. Around 5:30pm Julie checked me and I was at a 9 so she called Rupe. By the time she arrived I was 10 cm dilated and ready to push! After a couple test pushes they told me I was pushing so effectively our baby would be born in ten, twenty minutes tops. My family, Rupe and Julie held hands around me while Dad said a prayer for a safe delivery. It was such a special moment and I felt at peace. I was ready.

They broke down the bed, turned on the bright lights, put my legs in the stirrups and told me to grab the bars, bare down, and push. Julie would say, “Go”, and I would push while they counted to ten in sets of three. We’d rest for for a minute or two and then begin again. I willed my face to stay relaxed but with each push I could feel my eyes swelling. Taylor and I had decided he would stay “north of the sheet” but once the nurses yelled out that she had dark hair he leaned over to see. We were both momentarily overwhelmed by a flood of emotions but then quickly pulled it together to keep pushing.

Lots more pushing. Lots more nurses in the room. I joked with the nurses between pushing. Taylor amazed me by being the perfect birth coach – holding my hand, holding my leg to help me push, giving me water to sip. Taylor was my rock of strength and encouragement as I became more and more tired. You can do this honey. Our baby girl is almost here. You’re doing so amazing, one more push. Julie was supposed to go home at 6pm but she told me she would stay with us until Annie arrived.

More pushing. No more talking between pushes – I focused on deep, restful breaths (all that prenatal yoga came in handy) and prayed for strength. Taylor and Julie said I was in the zone. I didn’t understand why I was still pushing and could feel my epidural starting to wear off.

Rupe came in a little before the two hour mark and told me my dad was pacing so we needed to push harder. I gave my all to the next push but no change. Annie’s heart rate was in some distress and her shoulders weren’t coming out on their own for some unknown reason. She looked serious and explained that while some doctors would do an emergency c-section, she wanted to try using the vacuum while I gave one final push. If that didn’t work then I’d be rushed to the OR. Taylor dropped to his knees and prayed and I focused on my breathing, knowing I needed all the strength I could muster for this final push.

Taylor, Rupe, Julie, Paige and what felt like ten other nurses surrounded me and shouted words of encouragement as I pushed one final time. I felt a great amount of pressure and then heard the sweetest cry at 8:49pm. Rupe held up our precious miracle and then placed her on my bare chest. Annie immediately got quiet as she looked up at me. She knew I was her Mommy. I cried as I thanked God for such a perfect baby. Taylor cut the umbilical cord as we both cried uncontrollably.

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Taylor kissed me through the tears and then said hello to our baby girl. She turned to look at him and I cried harder. I asked Julie if I could keep her and I heard a collective “aww” from the nurses. As Rupe stitched me up she told us that Annie had flipped her body last minute to be sunny-side up and that she would have had to perform a c-section if my pushing hadn’t been so efficient. She also added that it would have been ten minutes of pushing if she hadn’t flipped. Of course she insisted on a dramatic entrance into this world.

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Paige placed Annie underneath the warmer and Taylor held her tiny hand. She weighed 7lbs, 1oz and was 20 1/4 inches long. So dainty and perfect in every way. Soon everyone left the room and turned the bright lights off, leaving us with our baby girl. Our little family.

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Our perfect gift from God had arrived and our hearts were forever changed. xo

Dear Annie – God is Bigger than the Bad Guys

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Dear Annie,

It’s hard to believe you’ll be here soon. Your daddy and I are so excited to meet you! Pretty soon you’ll make your grand entrance (most likely kicking and screaming, if you’re anything like me) and this world will be a little brighter. To be completely honest we don’t have a clue what we’re doing or what to expect but we hear that’s normal. As I sit here dreaming of what you’ll look like and what your laugh will sound like I can’t help but wish this world you’re about to enter into was a little calmer. More peaceful. More loving.

You see lately this world has become pretty scary. There are a lot of people who would rather fight than love, who prefer to knock others down instead of build them up. There are so many good people in this world but sadly there are also people who do some bad things for reasons we don’t understand.

What I want you to know is this: No matter how bad the bad guys are, God is always good. God is great and big enough to take care of all of us. The bad guys will never win because God has already won. He has overcome the world with his love and light.

So my sweet girl, don’t be afraid. God is much, much bigger than their hate and He will always be with us. The meanness in this world can be confusing and scary but our God’s goodness always comes out on top.

Annie, you will be such a gift to this world, I just know it, spreading kindness and joy to everyone you meet. Through being God’s light in this dark world you may just be the breath of fresh air some bad guys need to become good guys.

xoxo, Mommy