Archive | May, 2013

Emma: 7 Weeks

26 May

Emma is 7 weeks today!

Back on May 16, I was at my wit’s end to get Emma to sleep on her own at night. So I asked my Facebook friends what their tips were. My sister-in-law and cousin-in-law suggested the Fisher Price Rock ‘n’ Play Sleeper. I figured the $60 would be well-spent if it worked. So I found one in stock at Target and off Emma and I went to buy it. She ended up having a meltdown halfway through our trip but she’s still young enough for people to look at me with ‘Poor thing’ expressions instead of ‘Control your kid’ judgement. Still, I hoped that I looked especially sleep-deprived and first-time-mom-ish that morning… you know, for sympathy.
image
We didn’t use the bassinet that first night because we were still hopeful that she’d sleep in her (free, borrowed) cradle. And she did… but not without waking up every hour or so.

The next night, Travis and I set up the Rock ‘n’ Play Sleeper and crossed our fingers. We got Emma to sleep and put her in it. And she didn’t wake up for 4.5 hours! Since then, she has slept 4.5 – 6 hours each night on her own, without waking up. Hallelujah!
image
So Travis and I are finally sleeping in the same bed again, for roughly the same hours. We have Emma set up in the nursery and keep the monitor on. Our house isn’t really big enough to merit the use of monitors but they allow us to close her door and still hear what’s going on in there.
image
It’s never fun to have a crying baby in public but Travis and I have decided that we just need to go for it more often. So we finally went to care group for the first time since Emma was born. Yes, she ended up crying quite loudly after I fed her and our friend Sue graciously took her upstairs to calm her down. But it wasn’t the end of the world. I have also discovered that the secret to having her in public without a meltdown is to put her in the Baby Bjorn. Works like a charm every time!
image
At 7 weeks, Emma:

* Weighs a little over 10 lbs
* Has outgrown all her newborn clothes and now wears size 0-3 months
* Will start wearing size 1 and cloth diapers when we get back from Minnesota in 2 weeks
* Smiles at us when she’s awake and happy
* Can almost hold her head up
* Sleeps 5-6 hours on a regular basis at night
* Takes her reflux medicine like a champ
image
Emma loves:

* Grabbing things, even if it’s accidental
* Being in the Baby Bjorn
* Sucking on her pacifier
* Hanging out in her swing after eating for 10-15 minutes
* Being swaddled, shushed and bounced (all at the same time!)
* Getting her diaper changed
* Tummy time
* Being read to
* Cuddling

image

First thumb sucking!


Emma doesn’t like:

* Being in her carseat
* Having clothes put on over her head or her arms pulled through the sleeves
* Being burped
* Waiting to be fed (who does?)
image
Everyday, we see little bits of Emma’s personality shine through the pain and discomfort she’s in. It gets us very excited for the day when she’s finally happy more than she’s upset! Even now, we are very in love with this little girl.
image

Minnesota!

25 May

We made it to Minnesota. Emma did great on her first-ever airplane ride. I’ll post details later because we’re heading up to Travis’ family’s cabin near the Canadian border. I have Emma’s 7 week update for tomorrow but after that, I’ll be MIA for a few days. 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend! Thanks to all those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

6 Weeks Postpartum

22 May

This past Monday, I had my 6-week postpartum checkup. Everything looks good and I’ve been officially cleared for exercise. Yay!

At 6 weeks postpartum, here’s how things are going…

Physical Recovery

The weird tightness in my upper abdominal muscles is now officially gone. My abs are still fairly weak, though all the bouncing on the exercise ball that I’ve been doing to calm Emma down has helped to regain some of my core strength. I could notice a difference during the 2 runs I went on this week.

Yep, I went on 2 runs this week! Emma has been sleeping better at night (more on that in Emma’s 7 week update) so that has allowed me to go running in the morning instead of catching up on sleep. I thought about doing the Couch to 5K program but it seemed to be a little bit more conservative than I’d like. So I’m just doing my own thing. I covered 1.5 miles in 20 minutes on Monday and 2 miles in 30 minutes today, doing run/walk intervals. I mostly ran because I’ve missed it so much, but I know I need to listen to my body and walk when my legs feel tired or tight. Don’t want any injuries!

This week is the first that I’ve really been back at it with exercise. After that initial run at 12 days postpartum, Emma started getting really fussy and workouts fell very low on the priority list. I tried to get out on walks as much as Emma and my energy levels would allow, but that wasn’t very often. I’m glad that things are turning around now!

Body Weight / Image

I have about 7-8 pounds to go before hitting my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m trying to transition out of wearing maternity clothes but it has been hard. My boobs have grown so much from breastfeeding and my stomach is still ’round’ enough that I’d say about 75% of my pre-pregnancy shirts don’t fit – they’re either too short or too tight. About 90% of my pre-pregnancy pants, shorts and skirts don’t fit, also due to the stomach. I have been able to fit into a few things again (though not without causing major muffin top action) and I bought a few new things from the thrift store that fit me better. But overall, this is still an extremely frustrating part of being postpartum.

postpartum_comparison_2Maternity jeans on the left, pre-pregnancy jeans on the right

As a person who loves fitness and feeling in shape, it’s hard to be comfortable in my own skin when I feel so flabby and blah. I know that my body will never be exactly the same again but I’m looking forward to the day when I get to a place where I like how I feel and look again. I know that having clothes that fit will help me feel better, so I’m hoping to go shopping again in the next couple of weeks.

I also know that I need to be better about my eating habits. When we had family out here visiting after Emma was born, we ate pretty well-balanced, healthy meals. But when it’s just me and Travis, convenience is king – which means a lot more processed foods like frozen waffles, deli meat, cereal, etc. Being dairy and soy free really limits what I can eat (and drives up our grocery bill!) and I’ve found myself eating a lot of carb-heavy snacks/meals, like Rudi’s whole wheat toast with Earth Balance spread and raspberry preserves. Not horrible, but that kind of thing shouldn’t be the mainstay of my diet. Instead of relying on processed, expensive convenience foods, I need to be more intentional about eating whole foods – fruits, vegetables, legumes, meat and nuts. They’re cheaper and healthier.

Emotional

My emotions are still a rollercoaster, but a bit more intense than when I posted my postpartum update at 2.5 weeks. They vary from day to day, morning to night, hour to hour. Not surprisingly, they are heavily influenced by how much Emma is crying and sleeping. When Emma is minimally fussy, easily comforted, and sleeping for 3-5 hours at a stretch, it’s a lot easier for me to feel hopeful and enjoy this season than when she is crying inconsolably, refuses to sleep and wakes up after 20 minutes. Then I feel a ball of despair wedge itself in my throat and my minds fills with lots of untrue, very unhelpful thoughts, and I wonder how anyone has ever enjoyed being a parent.

It is because of God’s sustaining grace that I haven’t given up. He provides grace in little ways each day: Emma finally going to sleep when I thought I couldn’t possibly shush or bounce anymore. Emma staying asleep when I thought for sure she had woken up as I put her down and left the room in a huff (which happened last night). Travis and I working as a team to figure out how to do the things we enjoy doing while taking care of a colicky baby. Emma sleeping so well in the baby carrier that we can still do stuff – like clean, grocery shop, go on walks – even when she demands to be held.

I’ve called to mind these evidences of grace whenever I’ve been tempted to dive back into self-pity and discouragement. God does see, and He is actively providing for us. He may not be taking the situation away completely, but He is being faithful in the midst of it. And that has to be enough for me – because joy comes from accepting what He allows, not from demanding what I want. (So easy to say, but so very hard to do!)

Anyway, things are slowly getting better – if anything, Travis and I are learning to deal with the situation better, even if Emma is still quite fussy. That’s something!

6 years

20 May

image

image

Saturday night, Travis and I went on our first date sans Emma to celebrate our 6-year wedding anniversary.

One of our good friends from church watched Emma for four hours while Travis and I went out for sushi at 4:30 in the afternoon, followed by a walk on nearby trails (where the pictures above were taken), Dairy Queen (where I got a Mr. Misty slush since I’m still not eating dairy), looking at guns at Gander Mountain, people watching at a park and buying toilet paper from Walmart (exciting!).

We had a good time and Emma actually did pretty well so we’ll call it a success! Our lives are consumed by her right now so we did talk a lot about Emma but it was nice to touch base on how we’re both handling the life change, commiserate on how hard things have been and share our hopes for the future.

Oh, and I drank my first full glass of wine since last August! I had a Pinot Noir and it was delicious. After I fed Emma when we got home, I had another glass, of Cupcake Cab Sav. But then I felt absolutely horrible for both of the middle-of-the-night feedings. I need to remember to drink more water next time. Ugh!

Anyway, so 6 years. We’ve been together for 8. I’m still not even near the wife I want to be. Even now, the thing I want to ‘get better at’ is the same thing that has caused the majority of the tension in our marriage – expression of physical affection. After getting married, we discovered just how different our styles are. Travis is very playful and I usually end up annoyed and push him away -literally.

One of the things I struggle with the most in marriage is being resentful. I let little things build up into one big glob of disappointment and self-pity and it overflows through resentment and bitterness. For many years, I blamed Travis for our relationship being more roommate-like than lover-like. ‘If he would just stop grabbing me and listen to what I like, things would be different,’ I thought.

But then one day this past year,  my eyes were finally opened to my own fault. How it was my constantly pushing Travis away, even when he tried to do things ‘my way’ with back rubs and simple hugs (minus butt grabs), that really stunted our physical relationship. How could our passion increase if I always shut down any attempt Travis made?

I was very humbled that day. I’d love to say that things improved exponentially from there but unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. I’ve come to accept that this will always be something that I have to die to myself in – instead of demanding the ideal, giving thanks for the reality. Choosing to see the good, instead of ignoring it to focus on the bad.

I’m constantly amazed at Travis’ longsuffering and kindness to me. How he doesn’t get angry at my insensitivity and coldness is beyond me. But I’m thankful that he doesn’t. And I’m thankful that God has given us one more year together to figure out how to, in the words of John Piper, “forge a life together in the furnace of affliction” to the praise of His glory. May there be many more.

Fighting against what I need

18 May

Yesterday, Emma had a rough afternoon. After feeding her around 11:30, I put her in the Baby Bjorn and went on a walk to a nearby ‘lake’ with her and the pooches.

She fell asleep on our walk and I contemplated whether I should take her out when I got home or leave her be. I decided to leave her and started making lunch. She woke up. Crap. She had only been asleep for 20 minutes.

That was 12:30. She didn’t stay asleep until 3:00. She ‘fell asleep’ countless times during those 2.5 hours. I shushed her, bounced her, swaddled her, fed her, changed her, tried her in the Baby Bjorn again. But the minute I stopped bouncing or shushing, her little eyes would pop open, her little mouth turn down and she’d start wailing.

My frustration grew. Why did she keep fighting the very thing she needed most? Being overtired was what was making her so miserable. She just needed to surrender!

I also felt completely discouraged that nothing I did made Emma happy. It breaks my heart to hear her cry until her throat is raw and see her little face as red as a tomato. I would do anything to help her.

In the midst of my temptation to lose hope, I was reminded by the Spirit that I should pray and ask God to help me. I should crawl to the cross and lay my burdens there, “to receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.”

But I didn’t want to. I wanted to stew in my pain and despair. I wanted to be mad at God for it being so hard with Emma every day that I actually dread her waking up. I dread myself waking up. I live in a constant state of feeling like I’m holding on by a single strand of thread.

I knew that pouring out my heart to God was the exact thing I needed. My own stubbornness and self-pity was creating my misery.

Then I realized… I’m exactly like Emma. Fighting against what I need. And God looks at me with His heart breaking, longing to help me, to instill His hope in me, to prove His love for me. But I fight it. And for what?

I was humbled. And just as Emma finally succumbed to sleep, I went on a drive and poured out my fears, hopes and thanksgiving to the One who is faithful and sovereign over all.

That wasn’t the last time Emma will need sleep – or fight it. And I’m sure I’ll need the reminder again of my willfulness. But luckily, God is patient and lavishes me with blessings and grace I don’t deserve – or even ask for.

Emma: 5 – 6 Weeks

16 May

This coming Sunday, Emma will be 6 weeks old. It’s amazing how fast the time is going, even though the days (and especially the nights) sometimes seem to last forever.

After talking to the triage nurse last week and making the changes to my diet and breastfeeding style that she recommended, Emma still hadn’t seen much improvement. She was sleeping a little bit longer, but not really crying any less. So I called again this past Monday and they had us come in that same afternoon. While we were there, Emma gave the pediatrician and nurses a good dose of her crying – red face and all. After examining her, the doctor decided that Emma most likely has acid reflux. So she prescribed Prevacid for Emma to take once a day and said that we should see some improvement in the next 7-10 days.

We’ve already seen some improvement. It’s not night and day difference but Emma is now frequently alert and happy for 10-15 minutes after she eats, and has tolerated sitting in her swing, cradle or car seat several times without crying immediately, like she was doing before. She’s also developed a less severe level of crying – it’s not always just ear piercing wails. And we’ve also been trying to put her in her cradle or swing at night instead of just holding her, and she has stayed sleeping several times for up to a couple of hours – also an improvement. But she still has her inconsolable moments.

It’s hard to not be discouraged and frustrated at this whole situation. We love our daughter so much and want her to be happy and comfortable, but we’re also struggling with severe sleep deprivation, and trying to not crack when she’s fussy or crying uncontrollably for what seems like hours on end (in reality, it’s only 30-60 minutes at a time) is hard.

This has been our typical routine lately with a baby who only wants to sleep being held:

Approx 1 am: I get up for the middle-of-the-night feeding; Travis goes to bed after his ‘shift’

1 am – 7 am: I stay up with Emma, feeding her every 2-3 hours, then rocking her to sleep and attempting to put her down – usually she starts making noise after 20-30 minutes. I go pick her up because I don’t want her to wake up completely, causing me to have to get her to sleep all over again. My main desire has been to avoid a crying baby, but I realize this isn’t a good strategy for getting her to sleep apart from me, so I’m going to work on changing this.

7:15 am: Travis gets up, makes his coffee and puts Emma in the Baby Bjorn while he works at his desk; I go back to bed for a couple of hours

9:30 am: I get up and take Emma from Travis, feed her and entertain her for however long she’s happy, maybe doing tummy time while I take a few sips of my decaf coffee. Usually she starts crying (with no warning!) and I get her back to sleep by putting her in the Baby Bjorn with her pacifier and bouncing on the exercise ball.

20130510_165744

Sacked out in the Baby Bjorn

10:30 – 5:30 pm: Travis works while Emma and I go through the continual cycle of eat, awake and sleep. She typically goes 2-3 hours between feedings, with naps that are usually 45 minutes – 2 hours long, but it’s still far from predictable. During Emma’s naps, I either do chores like dishes and laundry (if she’s in the Bjorn), sit with her in the glider or watch TV while she sleeps, or (rarely) take a walk. Since she’s started crying so much and often, we’ve been hesitant to take her very many places because it’s so hard to soothe her without all our props and she’s really not a fan of being buckled into her car seat. Though I discovered today that driving on the highway with the windows down makes a wonderful white noise that puts her to sleep! (hopefully not just a fluke)

5:45 pm: Travis gets done with work and takes Emma while I ‘make’ dinner – usually reheating leftovers of a meal from our church friends. I eat and then take Emma so Travis can eat.

6:30 pm: We bathe Emma if it’s a bath night. If not, I feed Emma and either Travis or I put her pajamas on and swaddle her.

7 – 7:30 pm: I go to bed while Travis stays up with Emma. This strategy evolved at first because Emma’s such a loud sleeper that I was awake anytime she grunted or sighed (which is a lot). Lately we’ve done this because Emma sleeps the longest if she’s held. She’s actually gone 5 hours between feedings a couple of times (which is sleeping through the night at this age) but only while being held. The longest she’s gone in her cradle or swing is about 2.5 hours I think.

10 pm: I get up and feed Emma. When she’s done eating, I give her back to Travis and go back to bed.

{and the cycle begins all over again…}

20130509_140223

In short, we have no time to do anything but sleep, take care of Emma and work (in Travis’ case). Most days I don’t shower, brush my teeth or change clothes. Even though we’re technically surviving this way, we’re both frequently close to losing it. Something’s got to change. So we’re going to start being more intentional about putting her down to sleep in her cradle or swing instead of just letting her sleep in our arms. It may be more painful at first and involve more work with getting her back to sleep if she wakes up, but at least we’ll be headed the right direction instead of just throwing in the towel.

All that said, the Lord has faithfully given enough grace for us to get through each day – whether it’s a little bit more sleep, Emma not fussing for a few hours, delicious meals from friends, warm sunny weather, lots of babysitting offers, or the fact that Travis works from home (so amazingly helpful!). I’ve been tempted more than once to drown in self-pity because of all the things I haven’t been able to do, like get out on more runs, maintain personal hygiene or sleep longer than 3 hours at a stretch, but God has helped me to be aware of that sinful, joyless tendency and to instead be thankful for the mercies He does provide. Just like He provided the Israelites enough manna for a single day, so He provides me with enough faith and hope in His promises to stay the course for one more day. I know we will look back on this time and see His faithfulness stretching to the skies. I don’t know what I would do without Him, or Travis!

The Eternal Blessing of Motherhood

12 May

Today is my first Mother’s Day. It has been a decent day. Emma has cried a lot today and had her first diaper blowout, prompting an outfit change at church. But on the bright side, it’s GORGEOUS weather outside and Travis and I were able to eat Chipotle for lunch on our deck while Emma slept. Now Travis is taking a nap while I watch Emma, and in a bit, he’ll watch her while I take a nap. Teamwork!

IMG_4563[1] IMG_4564[1]

In honor of this special day, I wanted to share this amazing blog post that my wonderful sister-in-law, Jen — mother to my 16-month-old nephew — wrote on her blog Building a Humble Home.

…………………………………………………………………………………..

Being a mother is the single greatest gift and honor in the world. Nothing compares to the love and joy you feel for your child. Nothing else really seems to matter once you become a mommy. Being a wife and mother is my life’s calling. Raising our son and caring for our home is exactly where I belong.

However, I didn’t always feel that way. The first 8 weeks of motherhood were hard. So hard, that I remember pacing the halls trying my best to quiet a screaming baby, and in tears of frustration, wondered why anyone would want to be a parent. In those moments you wonder if it will ever really “get better” as everyone says it will. Yes, moments I’m not proud of, but sleepless nights and post pregnancy hormones can do a number on a new breastfeeding mother.

As I’m discovering, being a mother can be more challenging than I realized. Some days harder than others. Those difficult days will test your very being. Finding ways to be patient and show love even when you are tired and worn down can be one of the hardest. The devil makes you lose your focus for your family. In these moments the devil will make you feel self-centered, filling you full of lies about deserving more in your life, making you feel like folding laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning the house is not important. All lies!

On the hard days, I’m learning that when focus is lost and frustration and anger take hold, I have to surrender to God and give it all to Him in prayer. The moment I try to do it alone or feel that I’ve got it, I’m knocked down.

I have to constantly remind myself that I’m not in control.

No amount of hair appointments, or exercise, or shopping will refuel and rejuvenate me like time in the Savior’s Word. That is where I am lifted back up, reassured, and given a hug and a pat on the back. That is where I’m reminded that raising our son and caring for our home is virtuous.

I’m also learning that when I remain focused on God throughout my day (prayer, listening to sermons, and reading the Bible) I notice I’m a different person, a better mother. I’m calm, relaxed, patient, engaged, and present. You see, God knows exactly what we need. And He is using motherhood to strengthen my relationship with Him, molding me to be the person He created me to be so I can sow seeds in our son’s life. Coming to understand why motherhood is difficult is not something that happens over night and is something that requires God’s continuous work on me daily. Through my struggles and weakness, He provides me strength. It’s when I’m most vulnerable and weak, that I grow stronger in the Lord.

Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord, search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doing.”

Isaiah 40:28-31 “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary,and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

It’s imperative that I give my all and continually seek God in motherhood. My son’s life depends on it. I’m doing more than just raising a son; I’m raising a disciple of God.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 “5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

……………………………………………………………………………………

What a crucial reminder Jen’s post was to me that my daughter is an eternal being with a soul and that her greatest need is to know Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. It is an honor to be entrusted a little life to raise up as a follower of Christ, and I can only be the loving, patient, faithful mother I am called to be by daily spending time in God’s presence.

Go check out her blog – she has tons of great thoughts about motherhood and life!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of my lovely readers who are mothers!