Thursday, April 28, 2016

37.5

Still waiting for baby.

At 37.5 weeks I am so ready to be done; I'm uncomfortable and so tired and feeling pretty guilty about my lack of energy with and for my other kids. And yet, I have one more week until my parents arrive and a huge part of me wants to wait until they are here too - that's pretty much the only reason that makes me happy to wait at this point.

A few nights ago we had a false alarm, a "did my waters just break?" moment. We had to go into the hospital and get checked out. The drive to the hospital at 10pm, having called in a dear friend to sit with our sleeping kids until Jeremy's parents could get to our house, was a wake up call. It highlighted for me all the things I still needed to get done. Jeremy on the other hand was all ready to just get this birth thing done. I think he was a bit disappointed when it turned out to be nothing.

As it was, they don't know what the mini gush of fluid was but it wasn't amniotic fluid so it is all good and after a couple of hours they sent us home. I feel like I am still recovering from the huge adrenaline rush and panic of thinking the baby might be coming and I wasn't ready! I did a Target run yesterday and picked up most of my last minute odds and ends. I still need to actually put most of the things into my hospital bag but I have them to throw in now!

Last night my small group prayed for me and if nothing else I am beyond thankful that I was able to spend that sweet time with these precious women in preparation for baby girl. Having a safe place to share my hopes and fears with friends who know and love me was such a needed balm in this home stretch of pregnancy. Sometimes it is easier to think about this baby as something to do, or figure out, rather than someone new to love and get to know. I am feeling so much more joyful anticipation this morning as baby kicks and wiggles, who are you little one?!

Today, Levi doesn't have preschool so our mornings are often lazy and filled with snacking and snuggling while we watch TV and read books. And this week that plan is a slam dunk. I'm certainly not winning any mothering awards today but I am completely at peace with that fact. The next week and a half are about survival :) We might get out of jammies at some point. No promises.

I can't help thinking we might not make it until the scheduled due date, I have no reason to feel this way, and certainly it could just be my own desire to just not be lugging this giant belly around any more, but I guess only time will tell.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Counting down

We are 18 days away from meeting our daughter - assuming she doesn't decide to show up before that. I wouldn't be surprised, and honestly I am uncomfortable enough that I don't even think I would mind that much!

Of course in other ways it would be really nice to experience the positive aspects of scheduling a c-section; knowing where you need to be when, who will be taking care of your other kiddos to name the most important ones. But also being able to plan ahead and make sure you have checked all your boxes before the baby comes. Our only other "planned" c-section experience was thwarted when Nora decided she needed to come early.

I have a few things I very much need to get done before baby. Mostly to do with sorting, organizing and washing clothes and infant stuff; bottles, bibs, blankets etc. I am kind of living under the assumption that I will just make time to get that stuff done at some point...maybe after my parents get to town. That would be cutting it a little bit close, but if it was the only thing left to do it might work, right?

[Note to self- find baby bath and set it out to wash it, and also find bassinet co-sleeper to do the same]

I feel unprepared, but I honestly don't have time to be that concerned. I realised tonight as Jeremy left to take a red eye to Texas for his final work trip before the baby, that I haven't packed a hospital bag. I am not even sure what I need to get for said bag anymore. We are having the baby at the same hospital where we delivered the others but when we had them we were a three minute walk from our house, now it's more like a 20 minute drive. Not that that is a vast distance but it's far enough that forgetting something would be really annoying and inconvenient.

I will pack my bag first thing.

Actually, now I am worrying about it I might have to stay up and pack it tonight just in case.

I really hope this baby stays put for the next 24 hours.

It is crazy that Jeremy is having to travel as much as he is right now, it seems as fast as my belly is growing, he is adding trips to his itinerary! Still this is it, or at least, after tomorrow night it will be. Poor guy. One of us needs to be getting some sleep around here and its certainly not likely to be me anytime soon.

Not to mention the weather, what the heck, Seattle?! It's been close to 90 degrees some days this week. Keeping my kids hydrated and sunscreened is a crazy amount of work, not to mention remembering that I also need to do the same for myself. I love summer, in the summer but this spring heatwave is ridiculous when I am this huge and exhausted.

Sweet baby girl, you still have no name and we are not set up at home quite yet to bring you home, but know we are so, so excited to meet you! Your brother is fascinated with watching and feeling you moving in my tummy, he is going to love on you so much when you arrive. And your sister is very eager to " 'old " you and push you in the baby swing. She loves to swing and I think its adorable that she wants to see you share her joy and experience the activity she loves the most. You are coming into a crazy home full of noise and mess, but more importantly full of love and we are so looking forward to seeing how you will fit in.

It's hard to find time to blog these days but I also don't want to forget them. This is likely one of the craziest of seasons of our lives and I want to be able to look back and celebrate surviving it!!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Are we nearly there yet?!

I am 33 weeks pregnant (I think...geesh it's hard to keep track this time around) and boy I am UN comfortable.

I am carrying this sweet girlie "normally" as opposed to breech which is how I carried my others for the majority of their belly time. I didn't know how lucky I was. Seriously. I am new to this kicking in my rib cage thing, and the heart burn. Don't get me started on the heartburn.

I shouldn't complain, for most of the day I am actually feeling pretty good. The sunshine creeping in to our days here in the PNW is helping for sure. I do get an energy low late afternoon, starting at 3 or 4pm I start to drag. Standing up to make dinner can be a challenge :) Plus it's the time of day when Levi and Nora are getting tired and hungry so they are getting hyper and just bugging each other (and by extension, me). The combination of the pregnant tireds and playing referee is a lot to take and I have resorted to making 4pm our regular TV time. Now the weather is better we are getting out a lot more in the early afternoon which helps them to sleep more soundly, but doesn't help them cope with that 4-5pm hour. so sitting snuggled on the couch to a slow going show is how we all need them to spend that time, and I feel less guilt because we have been out getting fresh air before that.

I am eager to meet this baby girl. Eager to get past the anticipation and dive head in to adjusting to reality. My parents are coming to stay to help out in those early weeks so I am also excited for the next few weeks to go by because they will be coming.

I am just ready to bite into our next chapter of life.

I am dizzy with the thought of drawing a line under the season of family building and settling firmly into life as a party of five.

I am beyond blessed with my lot. Overwhelmed with the goodness of the God I love and the way he has designed my life to be more than I could ever have anticipated. Exactly what I wanted, even though it has its crazy, stressful and painful moments and days, I see how its all being used to draw me closer to Him, and make me more like Him. I am being stretched and refined. Searching for joy along the way and finding it in the most surprising places.

The irony that life is just starting to feel "manageable" and "predictable" only weeks before we add another baby is not lost on me, but I am trying to embrace the beauty of that feeling;  the undeniable experience of answered prayers and living in such an amazing faith community. I know we are about to enter crazy town once again but I have hope that we will find a way to thrive.

I am entering this new season ready to admit when I am struggling and ask for help as soon as the feelings of anxiety and wanting to hide creep in. I am preparing my heart to be strong in the truth of who God says I am, and ready to shut down the lies before they take hold. There are a million details that I want to get in place before the baby arrives, but I have released them, trusting that what really needs to be done will be done and the rest will just fall into place in time. I am seeking out peace now, so I can draw from the well after baby gets here. (Baby who still has no name - that's a detail I would really love to be resolved soon, its probably the hardest detail to give up worrying about right now!)

So here we are. Counting down. Getting less comfortable by the day but trying to keep a good attitude. But seriously, baby girl, watching you rolling around in my belly is the most wonderful part of my days too. You are an unexpected dream come true and we haven't even met you yet. I cannot wait until you are in my arms, but please stay in there until you are fully baked and ready to greet us healthy and strong.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

More than muffins?

This afternoon, the kids and I baked pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. I have literally been wanting to do this since about September and not found the energy or motivation. I confess, I do not enjoy baking and cooking with my kids. I love to bake and cook, and I love the idea of including them but in all honesty it really stresses me out to actually have their "help". I feel like I need to be ten steps ahead of my kiddos always, but having them in the kitchen around things that are sharp, hot or messy means that just intensifies!

The flip side is that they LOVE to help and are so excited by what we make. They are growing up and I want to embrace the opportunity to share my love of the kitchen with them.

This felt like much more than making muffins.

I am still under the cloud of (self diagnosed) postpartum depression left from Nora. Some days are easier than others in that department, but once I admitted to myself that this had been a problem for a long time and that I faced the fact I was depressed and that it seemed to be surrounding caring for my kids since my daughter's birth, I can give myself more grace. I felt lazy. I felt like a dead beat mum, going through the motions with a smile on my face - sometimes - but feeling nothing but overwhelmed at every step. Even today, I am overwhelmed and anxious more than I am not. Small tasks with the kids can cause me to become frozen in fear, and weighed down by the darkness in my head. At which point I turn on a TV show for them and just feel guilty about my parenting ability.

Baking the muffins is one example of something I wanted to do, really wanted to do because I enjoy creating in the kitchen and wanted to try again with my kids, but I just couldn't muster the energy to do it.

And fitting it in to today of all days, three days into a four day stretch of solo parenting while J travels for work and I am so exhausted felt like even more of a win.

Physically I am spent. Carrying the worry and "on the clock 24/7" feeling is crazy. Not to mention the kids are not sleeping great at night and I don't have anyone to share that load with so I am getting so little sleep. The baby likes to party at night too so even she has been keeping me up!
During this solo week, I also had a dentist appointment for Levi to navigate  - that went great, he was a rock star. On the way out, I told him how proud of him I was and he said, "I think I am getting the hang of this" ha ha - And this morning, I had Nora's 2 year well child visit. -She screamed the entire time. I hate that she gets so very upset about doctor visits but I can't seem to calm her. - at least they are both over now but they take a toll on me emotionally for sure. You never want to see your kids anxious and my own anxiety issues just go crazy when I am carrying some for them too.

With all of that going on, and another long night ahead, not to mention another day and another bedtime before J gets home, it's even more exciting to me that the muffins were made.

I still lose my temper more than I want to. I get overwhelmed by the toddler emotions and the preschooler disobedience. I feel like I am failing. Losing control. Failing to discipline effectively. Failing to be kind. Raising my voice too much. Not communicating well. The list of parenting shortcomings is anything but short. Still, my kids went to bed clean, well fed, prayed over and told they were loved.

We all snuggled in my bed after their bath, and read books before snuggling down under the covers where they both fell asleep in my arms. Levi fell asleep first. his breathing becoming softer, and Nora followed a few minutes after, her head falling gently from my arm to the pillow beneath as she let sleep embrace her.

I am one blessed mother.

I fail every day  but every day I vow to not let it beat me, because every day I have success too. I bake muffins with both my kids; letting them break eggs into the bowl, measure and pour in ingredients, and even mix.  Their delight at helping and excitement to eat what they made was balm to my over tired heart. I did that. I was the mum that bakes with her kids.

I do have days when we read books more than we watch TV, and days when I feel as though I have loved my kids well through my words, actions and reactions more than I have fallen short.

Motherhood is hard and beautiful. Rewarding and exhausting. SO. WORTH. THE. EFFORT.

Today's success was about so much more than baking muffins, but it was also, certainly about baking those muffins. We will be having them for a special breakfast treat in the morning and I am already looking forward to the conversations I know it will spark as they remember how we made them together.

Hang in their mama's of little ones. Notice the goodness in the craziness and know we are all on this journey together. I hope you have a community supporting you that is as fabulous as the one I have been blessed with, and I encourage you to ask for help when you need it. Letting people know our needs is the way that we let people in and start to build relationships and community. It also open opportunities for us to serve others, even in our weakness and be God's hands and feet to one another.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dear Nora - Two years old

Dear Nora,

This weekend we celebrated two years of you being in our family. How time flies when you are having fun and not sleeping very much...

Happy Birthday to you little love bug - if I said that aloud, you would have corrected me that you are "big girl" not love bug. You really embrace the fact that you are growing up and love to be a big girl, in fact that can be great motivation for all manner of things during the day. I am thankful that it spurs your obedience but a little sad every time you tell me because you will always be my baby.

You are such a mix of personality little lady. You are still such a home body, asking to go home after just a few minutes out at events or with friends and even though you can be persuaded to rally and end up having fun, your safe place is in our house. You are still very uncertain about being left with anyone that's not us or your Grandparents or Auntie. The last time I tried to leave you at MOPS or for nursery at church you made it very clear you did not appreciate it. We are hoping and praying this insecurity or separation anxiety will begin to fade more as you are older and have more words but I guess time will tell. You seem to be slowly gaining confidence and as we spend more and more consistent time with certain friends; small group and church especially so I am hoping that as you make you own little friends it will help.

In unfamiliar surroundings and with unfamiliar people you are very shy and can give a nice glare to anyone who tries to make nice, but at home or with friends you are a firecracker with a crazy sense of humor and can be such a goofball. You are not afraid to play with older kids and if your brother is doing something then you want to be in on the action too. You have discovered the delights of dressing up and are very often found with all your necklaces and bracelets, rings and now even hair clips on at the same time (even with your jammies) you like to say you are a "pincess" and you certainly are our little princess.

You are finding your voice and saying more and more every day. In the last couple of months its like your language has just exploded and I love to hear your sweet voice chirping away, narrating your day and loudly claiming your rightful ownership of toys if Levi tries to swoop in and take something of yours.You ask lots of questions about the world and I just love to hear your take on how the world works.

You are still a huge fan of you pacifiers and prefer to have multiples in your hands at once, but Bug paci is still your favourite. We are talking very seriously about strategy to break this habit for you but your Daddy and I are softies and don't want to break your heart, so you've likely got a few more weeks before we do anything major about it even though your second birthday had always been the cut off we talked about.

You love your baby dolls and stuffed animals, baby Stella and your other baby dolls all lovingly called "baby" are often pushed around by you in your little stroller or the little shopping cart as you go about your errands in the living room. You pick them up and snuggle them in a blanket, change diapers and even tuck them into their crib. You are a delight to watch as you take such good, tender care of them. What a sweet mama you are!

You have learned the art of negotiation -  probably from your brother - but you are ever eager to respond to a "no" for a request for a snack from your Dad or I with "peez. A tiny one", This is said with a scrunched up face and you squeezing your fingers together to show how teeny you mean. Hard to say no to. Especially hard for Daddy!

You are full of determination and when you don't get your way you certainly let us know you don't agree with our decision. You throw some pretty epic tantrums; loud and impressive. You are not easily distracted but you are quick to forgive once you calm down.

You have such a compassionate heart and it's so beautiful to watch you, If a baby is crying in the store you are very concerned until you see them being comforted. When Levi, or another child wants a toy you are playing with you are quick to tell them you are all done with it and hand it over so you can  calm their distress. You won;'t take a snack or a treat without asking for one for your brother or asking for enough for everyone in the room. You are happy when others are happy.

You are a huge fan of m'n'm's and I will use them to my advantage - especially to get you into your car seat which has certainly become a battle of wills at this moment in time. You are a stinker and know exactly what you  are doing when you are driving me crazy climbing all over the car and demanding "I do it" even though you are doing anything but that.
I know one day your determination will be such a strength but geesh, it's kind of exhausting at the moment and its certainly a great thing that you are so cute, and offer us the cuteness in equal measure to the drama and emotion :)

You love music and love to dance and I am so glad you and I got to take a music class together the past couple of months. It makes my heart so happy to hear your darling voice singing the songs and to watch you delighting in throwing the scarves up and down and playing the instruments in the class. You get your music genes from your Daddy.

You are bright as a button, counting up to the mid teens with ease and you know all your colours already. You can spot the letter "o" but the rest of the alphabet is only a song you sing while washing your hands. Which you do frequently and are very insistent you can do by yourself - just like brushing your teeth, putting on your shoes and well, pretty much everything else. You are so independent and remarkably capable. You are constantly surprising me with how well you do the things you insist on doing without help.

You are excited to be a big sister and often ask about my belly, wanting the baby to "come out, hold her" I think you'll be a great big sister.

Happy birthday my darling girl, I cannot wait to see what the next year will hold; potty training and big girl beds for starters. I look forward to knowing you more and more as you grow up athough I cannot imagine loving you any more.
I am so proud of the little lady you are already becoming, I love to snuggle you and treasure the time right after you wake up from naps and just want to cuddle up with me, red cheeks and pacifier firmly in mouth. You are me sunshine and my delight. I love you so much.

Mama x



Sunday, January 10, 2016

Word of the year 2016 - Notice

Each year I try to choose a word that will focus my goals and my mind through the year. Some years it has turned out to be more integral than others but I have always found it has helped as I have made big decisions or gone through big transitions during the year.

This year's word is NOTICE.

Last year was full of challenges and it left me dry; spiritually, emotionally, relationally.  I feel as though I was beyond becoming self focussed, that's usually my response in overwhelming times, but I feel like I moved beyond that to just caring for my kids and husband in the most basic of ways. If I got through the day with both kids fed and changed and had something on the table for dinner it was a good day. And if I got there without crying or totally losing my temper then it was even better.
What was the point of it all? What was God's plan? What was my life worth day to day? I felt lost, like I was being carried along on a wave.

This year, I am hoping that some of the big life changes we went through will start to feel more like normal life. We will finally get around to some of the things which have been hanging around our necks on a heavy to do list, and that I can find my direction again.

I am hoping that this year I can focus on the things I have, and am; to celebrate the good and challenge myself not to settle for the bad.

To do this I need to be aware. I need to notice.

I need to take a second, a breath, to notice when I make a good parenting decision as well as when I make a bad one. To notice when my kiddos are needing my attention and I'm distracted by something less important. To notice when my spirit is running dry and to make time to do something to be filled up. To notice when God is revealing a sin issue I need to address, and to notice when he is loving me in those moments too. I want to notice the goodness in my life - because there is so much of it - and I want my heart to be thankful in the measure I am blessed.

So watch out 2016 - because I'm going to be watching you!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

and just like that...

the holidays are over.

We are heading full force into a new year in only a few short days. How in the world did that happen?!

We said goodbye to my parents and my brother this afternoon.  They had been staying with us for Christmas and it was a truly sweet time as we shared making gingerbread houses, baking cakes, decorating Christmas cake and other festive activities as we waited for Christmas to come :) It was so special to see how much the kids loved their grandparents and uncle being here and available to them in person! I will certainly miss their company, not to mention their help playing with the children and around the house. They are certainly not hard guests to host.

Jeremy still has a few days of vacation before heading back to work after the new year, and I am already dreading it. It's just so nice to have other adults around during the day. I am realising that more and more I need to be a better planner for my days home with my kiddos. I need connection with other grown ups during that day so I don't go crazy! I am hoping that since everyone we know seems to have had the stomach flu cycle through their families in the lead up to Christmas we might be able to start hanging out with our friends again soon :) It was a pretty lonely December before my family arrived as everyone shared this nasty bug and plans got cancelled.

2015 has not been the easiest year. We struggled to find a house and spent the first half of the year living away from our friends and community with my in-laws. Then we found a house (praise the Lord) and moved in, but moving house and establishing a home with a baby and a preschooler is no easy task, in fact it felt totally overwhelming at times and we are still far from having the house set up how we want despite Jeremy's valiant efforts in that direction. Most days and weeks it feels as though we are treading water just to stay on top of keeping the kids alive so anything more like hanging pictures on the wall is beyond us. I am hoping that this week before he returns to work we can finally get a few things crossed off the list while finding a balance and having some family fun as well.

Of course, later in the year, just as things were getting into some sort of routine we fell pregnant and I spent the next few months so sick and barely off the couch when I wasn't taking Levi to and from school. We emerged from that to the craziness of the holiday season and that's where you find me now.

I am really hoping that the new year will bring a chance to find some peace and feel like I have a sense of doing life well and not just being carried along on a wave of crazy which is kind of how its been. It's exhausting to have to hold your head above water for a long period of time. I need some time sitting on the beach :) (Literally and figuratively)

I know bringing a new baby into our family doesn't exactly scream peace and rest but trying to imagine the baby coming while we are feeling the way I have been is too much to even consider, seriously, it makes me cry to think about it, so something has to change before that happens.

I have let me tiredness keep me away from my weekly small group for a couple of months and that community is vital to my survival. The new year will be a lot about re establishing routines and activities which we have let slide; regular church attendance, small group, regular play dates, regular date nights just to name a few.

I'm eagerly anticipating the new year and all the possibilities for good and healing it holds. Just have to pack away the Christmas decorations now...

Here are Nora and I on Christams day playing with her new jewellery and box




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