Friday, September 15, 2017

Things I've Learned As a Mom 1.0

1. Baby fingernails peel off.  Somehow, this came up in the delivery room with our doctor...and somehow I had no idea of this fact.  We haven't used fingernail clippers on Jacob, yet, because really - they're still soft enough to just peel off.  Full disclosure: Yes, I've used my teeth to start the process a couple times.  I've never been a nail-biter; who knew I'd bite my kid's nails.  But still - I'm sharing this for all those moms with babies who may also not know how easy taming those talons can be.  You're welcome.

2. Moms planning to breastfeed their babies should invest in some comfy, quality nursing bras/camis/tanks/tops before giving birth.  I know sizing is a little tricky at that time, but postpartum clothes shopping is trickier.  Not only can it be difficult to actually get to the store, but also, who wants to try on clothes at that time in their life?  It's not fun or enjoyable.  Period.  There is the option of online shopping, which is totally doable, but you've gotta have something to wear in the 2 days before Amazon Prime can get your purchase(s) to your door. ☺

3. It's ok to give your baby more than the Dr.-suggested amount when supplementing while breastfeeding.  Whether it's formula or pumped milk, it doesn't matter - if he's hungry, he's hungry.  You may cry the first couple of times.  It may hurt your feelings/pride/sense of self-worth.  In the end, however, just know that you're giving your baby what he needs.  I knew this before becoming a mom, but implementing it for myself was harder than I thought.  There's a lot more to be said about it, but it's easier to discuss in person.  I'm sharing a bit here, though, because I think the breastfeeding/formula/feeding struggle is real for so many, and I want to provide a little solidarity for those who have been/are/will be in the same situation.  Also - I'm obviously not a doctor, so please consult your own when figuring out what is best for your own little one.

4. Commemorative plaster/clay newborn foot/handprint molds are mostly not worth doing.  Unless you want to lose your sanity/test your marriage/cry all the frustrated tears, I'd recommend skipping it.  I mean, you could wait to do them till your sweet babe is a little older/bigger and you are not quite so much under the influence of postpartum hormones, limited sleep, and so many other things that aren't going quite as you'd hoped...but then you wouldn't get the oh-so-tiny little prints to remember forever and ever.  Your call.

6. Baby smiles can pretty much fix anything.

7. Sleep when the baby sleeps, but only if you can peel yourself away from watching them sleep.  ☺

There are probably several more things I could add to this list, but will leave it at that, for now.  Would love to hear/read any additions you have to the list!


P.S. Thanks so much to those of you who checked in after my last post.  I didn't mean for it to be quite the pity party it may have come across as - simply a glimpse into the reality of new-motherhood - but I sure appreciate all the positive feedback and support!  ☺

Favorites of the day:
zucchini bread
fall ☺
This birthday card from a former place of employment...where part of my job was caring for 2 sweet kitties.
They signed the card! ♥

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My New To-Do

If you know me at all, you know I can't function without lists (ok - maybe that's an exaggeration, but let's just say I can't function well without them).  Not lists on my phone or in my head or on my computer; real-life-hard-copy-pen-to-paper lists.  This is why I regularly receive post-it notes as gifts and help myself to the complimentary notepads in hotel rooms.

A former boss of mine required his employees to keep to-do lists, and we'd report on them at our weekly staff meetings.  (Click here and here to read more about that won't regret it!  There are probably more posts that refer to it, but those are the two I found in a quick search. ☺)  As you can imagine, I thrived in that environment.  My memory fails me often - it did before I was pregnant, you know about "pregnancy brain," and now I've got the "Mom brain" going for me.  Lists not only help me remember to do things, but they also give me a sense of purpose and accomplishment.  The visual of the tasks I plan to complete is a small representation of my place in the world, and as you may be able to relate to, crossing items off my list(s) is a representation of accomplishment.

So, all that said, it should come as no surprise to know I nearly always have a written to-do list (or two or three) somewhere in our home.  This, of course, does not include the home improvement project list we've kept since moving into this house, the list of meals my husband has requested, the list of restaurants we want to try, etc. etc. ☺  My to-do lists have always included a variety of items, from event planning to household chores to correspondence I hope to make...the list goes on and on (pun intended).

Lately, however, my list has been fairly short (feed baby, sleep, eat, change diapers)...and hasn't (*gasp*) been written down.  The other day, however, I had a few things I wanted to accomplish, so I made a list for the first time in a few weeks.  It was still short, but it included a few non-baby-related things that needed to be done and could realistically be accomplished in my few moments of spare time.  It also included, however, the following two items: "pump" and "shower."  The "pump" refers to the daily task of pumping extra milk between morning feedings.  The "shower" refers to the not-so-daily luxury of bathing.  Ha.

Anyway, what surprised me about this (and the reason I'm writing about it) was the fact that I didn't think twice when writing these two items on my to-do list.  The pumping is new, of course, but even though it's something that has become routine, completing the task still gives me a sense of accomplishment.  And the shower?  This is something I would've laughed about adding to a to-do list prior to birthing a child.  But, now, having/taking time to do this small item of self-care gives me a great sense of accomplishment...which is why I added it to the list without even thinking.

I'll be honest and tell you this transition into motherhood hasn't been easy.  Yes, there are postpartum hormones that play into it, but there's definitely been some confusion/heartache/anxiety/mourning/etc. in figuring out and wrapping my mind (and heart) around my new role.  I recently told a fellow new mom I was having a bit of trouble figuring out my new identity, and she gently reminded me that our identity need only be in Christ.  Duh, Kensy!  Of course, I know this, and try my best to put it into practice, but in these moments of wondering if I'm "enough" as this baby's mom, wondering if I'm still fulfilling my role as a wife, wondering if I'll ever feel like I'm contributing outside of our home, wondering if I'm keeping up with friendships...none of it matters.  I am a child of God - first, foremost, and most importantly.  My new role as a mother is an extension of my ministry on this earth - just like my role as a wife, friend, teacher, etc.

Still lots of "things" to figure out and get used to, but that's nothing new - life always brings change and learning opportunities.  It's the subjects (the "things") of those changes and opportunities that are new.

As always, I appreciate you reading and bearing with my sometimes-convoluted thoughts. ♥

List-fully (ha),

Favorites of the day:
my husband - can't brag on him enough - he's the greatest!
s'mores English muffins (seriously...try them!)

Friday, July 21, 2017

New job titles: Mom & Dad

I don't know if I've ever told you this, but in jr. high, I was nicknamed "Mom" by my circle of friends.  This nickname stuck and permeated into other circles throughout high school and college.  For the first time, now, however, I can officially assume this role!

Our son, Jacob Earl, was born Monday, July 3, 2017 at 8:54 p.m.  He weighed 6 lbs. 7 oz. and measured 19 in. long.  I know several of you are interested in all the details, but several of you aren't, so I've written a separate post about his birth story.  Click here if you'd like to read it!  The nutshell version, though: it went well.  ☺

Perhaps my favorite part of being pregnant was watching Bryant getting increasingly excited to be a dad...and that "favorite" has permeated into motherhood.  I love how much he loves our son.  It's so awesome to see him assume a brand new role so naturally and so well.  Definitely brings a tear to my eye.

I have cried many tears over this baby, already (quite literally - have to wipe them off his super-squeezable cheeks, sometimes).  They start as happy tears - tears of gratitude for the gift God has given us in this son.  Tears of overflowing love for him.  Tears of amazement at the way he looks at me, and that he looks around for his dad and me when he hears us speak and did so even in his first few moments in the world.

My happy tears, however, soon turn to tears of heartache.  Perhaps it's my hormones leaking, as I like to say, but more likely, it's my heart growing to understand new heights of joy and realizing the potential for equal depths of pain.  My heart aches for those who long to be mothers and are still patiently waiting on God's timing and answer to their persistent prayers.  My heart aches for those mothers who have lost children, young and old.  It aches for those whose are witnessing their babies going through illness and pain.

These tears change again, however, to tears of admiration.  Admiration of all the mothers who have gone before me - those I've known, those I've observed from afar, and those I've only heard about.  It's been made clear to me that a mother's sacrificial love manifests itself in so, so many ways - before and after birth!  It is shown in late-night feedings and early morning diaper changes.  In months of careful eating and health monitoring in an effort to get pregnant.  In wanting the very best for her child, regardless of the implications on herself.  In financial saving and sacrifices to fund adoption and/or fostering.  In sore nipples and tears of pain during breastfeeding.  In complete lifestyle changes and priority shifts.  Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list - only the tip of the "mother's love" iceberg - but it's what's on my heart, right now.  A mother loves her child so much before she meets him/her, and though it doesn't seem like there could possibly be any more love to give, that love just continues to multiply once she holds her child in her arms and watches him/her grow.  It's amazing.

(A father's love is similar, of course, but I can't speak about it as knowledgeably...☺)

On a lighter note...I believe I promised you pictures of the nursery.  ☺  Keep in mind these were taken before Jacob arrived.  There have been some subtractions/additions of various things, and it definitely looks more "lived in," currently.  Wish I could somehow attach the "new baby" smell for you all!  (I mean that wonderfully good "new baby" smell - nothing to do with poopy diapers, though in an effort to keep it real, I'd probably attach that, too.)
This is a "before" picture of the bookshelf corner...
...and after!
Shelves courtesy of IKEA - custom cuts and installation courtesy of my handy husband!
So many great things in this pic!
The dresser-turned-changing-table was found and delivered by Bryant's parents and painted by his talented sister.  Isn't it beautiful?!  And it's the perfect size/height.
You may recognize the pennant banner and diaper cake from a couple different showers.
The little wagon is holding alphabet blocks is an antique from my dad's side of the family.
Another great hand-made gift and little boots from ancestors on my dad's side of the family.
We were so excited when we found this rocker at a consignment sale - it was just what we were looking for!
The afghan was made by a friend (it's the perfect size - Jacob and I have used it every time he's nursed!).
Boppy and cover (and cute little tote down there) were much-appreciated, practical gifts.
We couldn't believe our luck when we found this crib on clearance at NFM at 1/3 of the original price!
Both blankets were handmade gifts.
You may recognize the wall-hangings from the showers, as well.
We'd been collecting books here and there for a long time and have been gifted so, so many since our pregnancy news and baby's arrival.
The frog was a gift, and the striped bin was the very first thing I purchased for the nursery after finding out our baby was a boy.

That's all, for now, from this new mom!  Thanks, as usual, for reading and for your interest, love, and support.


Favorites of the day:
Our first date night as parents: "Netflix and Chill" with ice cream souvenirs we brought home from the hospital.
(Do you get it?  "chill" - ice cream?  Haha.  Bryant has been killing it with the "Dad Jokes," already.  Though, if you know him at all, you know he was ultra-prepared in that department, and had been practicing long before adding the "Dad" part to his joke repertoire.  ;)
the fact that this baby is starting to learn the difference between night and day, already!
These precious bright eyes.  Can't wait to see what color they turn out to be!
His mom and dad's are hazel and green, respectfully, so we'll see.

Our Birth Story

"Remember that time we packed our hospital bag thinking we were just being prepared, and our son was born 24 hours later?"

This is something we'll be saying for a long time to come, I'm sure.

For real, though – we had JUST packed our bag. Bryant said, “If we pack it now, he’ll come on time. If we don’t, he’ll come tomorrow.” And as he likes to say, now, "I was half right!"  Our baby boy gave us the best surprise by coming 18 days early, and we were so glad to get to meet him sooner than expected!

Here are the details for those of you are interested:

I woke up at about 1:00 a.m. thinking I was wetting the bed. I got up to go to the bathroom thinking, “Gosh – I’ve really lost all control…also, I haven’t peed this much in a long time!” (I’ve been known to have a “peanut” for a bladder when I’m not pregnant…so, when pregnancy squished that "peanut" in half (or more) get the idea.)

Anyway, I started to change the sheets, thinking the ordeal was over and I'd just go back to sleep (of course, we'd gone to bed later than usual that night).  Before I was able to wake Bryant, he rolled over, woke up from a dream, saw me out of bed with the sheets half off the bed, and said, "Woah!"  I told him what I thought had happened, but that the "pee" was still coming out.  Cue Google and a "how do I know my water is breaking" search.  All the while, I was still in denial.  Surely my water hadn't broken.  Surely we're not going to the hospital to check.  SURELY we won't be staying to have our son tonight!

Once Bryant was up for real, though, he was sure of what was happening and was in "go" mode right away.  He was so sweet to let me take time to shower, help get the sheets in the wash and put new ones on, make sure I ate something substantial, and tie up a few other loose ends (getting a b-day card in the mail, tidying up the kitchen counter, starting the dishwasher, etc....I wanted to do all the things!) before we left (because he knew we wouldn't be coming home for a couple days...I was still in denial, I think).

We checked in to the hospital around 4:30 a.m., and it was confirmed we were going to be having a baby that day!  My water had indeed broken (thank goodness I'd purchased some disposable underwear (lady diapers) on sale that week and had them handy to wear on the way...), and I was 80% effaced and dilated 2 cm.  We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise from our room and settled in to await the arrival of our son!

Around lunchtime, the contractions started to get more "uncomfortable," but my progress was kinda stuck at 95% and 4 cm.  So, around 3:45 p.m., they put me on a dose of Pitocin to "get things moving," since my water had already broken.  True to their warning, the Pitocin resulted in stronger and more productive contractions.  I had decided to go through labor and delivery without an epidural and had planned to not opt for any pain meds.  I'd hoped to use the Jacuzzi tub as a "last resort" sort of relief, but when I got to the point of asking to use it, the nurse kindly reminded me that I wasn't able to, since my water had already broken.  So, at that point, I went ahead and asked for a dose of pain meds in my IV, since that was my only option for a bit of relief.  Not too long after that, it was time to push (for ~26 mins.), and then, we were holding our son!

Backing up a bit to that whole labor process: wow.  I need to say first and foremost: I couldn't have done it without my husband.  From the time he woke up when I was changing the sheets to the delivery of our son, he was the BEST partner I could've asked for.  He had done a ton of research in preparation for our natural childbirth and had began coaching me on relaxation techniques several weeks prior.  When the time came to implement these techniques and tools, he was ready!  Not only did he provide his own constant encouragement, but he even asked several women in my life to write notes of encouragement/support/distraction to give me during the many hours of labor!  He knows me so well.

I wish I could put into words what an out-of-body experience it all was.  I truly felt like a crazy person for a few hours toward the end.  I just wanted to be able to hug and thank all the nurses for enduring the moaning/yelling/writhing hot mess I was, but literally, all I could do was not-super-kindly ask for various "needs" during that time (a hand to push, less pressure there, another pillow here, etc.).  I can't imagine what Bryant was thinking/feeling seeing me like that.

Perhaps the most special part of the whole process was our awesome doctor letting Bryant assist with the delivery - he got to be the very first person to hold our son!  What an amazing experience for him.  I have to say, I am a little embarrassed by my initial face after delivery.  I think I was just in shock that the many hours of labor were actually over and I wasn't in pain, and I was also in awe of the baby they were placing on my chest.  It really took me a couple minutes to come back to my right mind and wrap my head around what was happening.  It didn't take long, however, for the joy, amazement, and gratitude to set in - our son was here!

Another cool thing about the whole process: there was an EMT student who had asked to observe our birth.  When she asked if she could, my only question before agreeing was, "Can you take pictures?"  She was more than willing to do so, and she caught some truly amazing moments that we will cherish for a long, long time.  She was also willing to assist with my labor needs, which Bryant was extra thankful for.  He told me, "I never knew how (physically) strong you were!"  Needless to say, he was glad for an extra pair of hands.

Our hospital stay afterward was wonderful.  We had a few visitors, but were also able to spend quality time together as a new family of three!  The nurses and staff were very helpful, caring, and encouraging the whole time.  They made sure all our questions were answered - even ones we didn't know to ask - and ensured our health and comfort during our entire stay.

Though I missed out on playing in a July 4th band concert (don't worry - we listened to "Stars and Stripes Forever" on the way to the hospital to make up for it) and the fireworks show afterward, we got to watch some firework displays from the floor-to-ceiling windows in our third floor hospital room.  It was a really special night!

So, there you have it!  Thanks for being interested and reading.  Hopefully, it wasn't TMI for ya.  ☺

Recovering well,

Favorites of the day:
the Moby wrap I scored at a garage sale
flowers from Baby Jacob ☺
meals and treats from friends and family - thank you!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer babies bring spring showers

Thanks for reading past the cheesy title of this post.  ☺  My initial thought was to write it chronologically ("Spring showers bring summer babies"), but we all know that's not actually how it works.  Thanks, pregnancy brain.  

Anyway, we have been so blessed by sooo many people over the past few months.  This baby boy is already very loved and well-cared for - what a lucky guy to have so many great people in his life!

Because words can't fully express how wonderful these celebrations have been, or how grateful we are, I thought I'd share some pictures of some of the kindnesses shown to us and festivities celebrating our growing family.

These are not chronological, for the record.  Rather, they're in order of my life's path, if you will.  It's such a warm/awesome/encouraging feeling to have people from all stages/places/circles of life continue to come around us and support us in so many ways.

Two wonderful friends from high school threw a shower for us in Topeka!
Such yummy food!
So many cute decorations, thanks to this talented, creative lady!
A special gift from the neighbors who where there for my parents when both my brother and I were born.
They gave Q a big baby bottle bank when he was born, so this was a nostalgic gift.
My brother and sis-in-law know my hubby all too well!  ☺
A most special gift from my jr. high/high school band director's wife.
(Yes, this one evoked a couple tears.)
Of course, my mom found a cat book!
Such a special gift from my BFF - a beautiful handwritten wall-hanging for the nursery.
(It's a Bible verse!  Joshua 1:9)
2/5 of the family I baby-sat for for several years from jr. high - college.  That super-grown-up young lady in the middle was the last true newborn who had been in my care regularly!  So...
...I'm thankful this pretty lady helped provide a newborn refresher course a few months ago! ☺
Love this sweet new mama!
Lovely hostesses!

Our Lincoln(area) family threw us a shower, as well!
I couldn't get over the bow-tie forks.  So cute, right?!
The amazing baker/decorator of the delicious cookies - and a wonderful friend! ☺
"The three best friends..."
This guest book became an adorable wall-hanging!
So fun!
This hand-made decoration got to come home with us to find a spot in the nursery, as well!
Such a sweet, cozy quilt from one of my very-talented aunts!
We were overwhelmed by the generosity shown to us and our son!
(The guests brought books instead of cards!)

Our BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) group threw us and a couple engaged to be married a joint shower one night after study.  There were ice cream sundaes, adorable cakes, sweet words of encouragement and prayer, and an outpouring of unexpected gifts.  They sure know how to make a couple feel special!

When I arrived to teach lessons for the last time at the community center where I've volunteered for the past couple of years, there was a sign directing me to the eating area, and this is what was waiting for me!
What a sweet (in every sense of the word) surprise!
One of my students got in on the celebration!
Other students had kind notes for me.

A dinner invitation from our neighbors turned out to be a surprise baby shower with a couple other couples!
We felt so celebrated and supported and are very thankful to live by such wonderful, thoughtful people.
This quilt, made by one of the ladies' mothers, was one of several generous gifts.

Our church family blessed us with an absolutely adorable (and fun!) shower.
Several ladies came together to make it a really enjoyable morning with lots of delicious (and cute) treats!
This was melted were the messes in 7 other diapers.
The goal was to try to guess what candy bar each was!
Little baby leg warmers!
A most perfect outfit!
Homemade hot fudge favors!
(For the record, we'd received some of this for Christmas, as well, and it was definitely something I'd partaken of during pregnancy.  Needless to say, I was very excited to receive a refill! ☺)

Even though we're not right next door, anymore, our former neighbors continue to bless and support us.
What a sweet surprise this hand-knit afghan was!

I'm truly at a loss for words.  We're just so thankful!

Everything has continued to go smoothly with this pregnancy.  We're down to weekly check-ups, now - hard to believe it's gone so fast!  Thank you for all your love and support, whether it be cards, gifts, words of encouragement, helpful hints and advice, and/or prayers!  It takes a village, and we're so glad you're part of ours.  ☺

As usual, thanks for reading.  We'll see if I get any more posts in before this baby makes his entrance! ☺


Favorites of the day:
the nursery!  (pics to come soon, hopefully)
my husband