Month: February 2012

Leap

oh yeah, I forgot this was a LEAP YEAR?!”

I am always a little taken aback when this phrase comes up in conversation. You won’t hear that from me, mind you. Leap Year never, ever, ever catches me by surprise.

Why am I hyper-aware of this non-important-holiday-day?  Well, I guess that’s what happens when it is the day before your birthday.

Yep, that’s right, every time Leap Year rolls around, it means one thing: I have to wait an entire extra day for my birthday.


I was born on March 1, in a Leap Year.  I missed a Leap Day birthday by 8 hours and 14 minutes that much.

(So now can you guess how old I am..I’ll give you a clue: I’m still in my twenties. {But that’s all I’m saying. And I may be saying it for a few more Leap Year Birthdays too…but only as long as I can get away with it.})

I do  have to admit, every time Leap Year comes around, a little part of me still regrets that I wasn’t born on that day.  

Are you scoffing?  Most people do.

Followed by a variation of the following phrases:

You would only get your birthday once every fill-in-the-blank  years!”   This is another thing that always surprises me: the same people that forget it exists also can’t remember how often it comes around. It’s four. NOT six, seven, or ten years.
 
What would you do??  Would you just pick the 28th or the 1st to celebrate on?” I realize that most people are just verbally processing when they ask this…but the answer is yes.  And you would be surprised how often they do!   In my family, we rarely celebrated on the actual day anyway.  We usually did cake on the day and then a party on the weekend before or after.  So not having an actual birthday wouldn’t have been much of an issue.  Heck, we probably would have eaten cake on the 28th and the 1st.  Just because we could.

You wouldn’t be able to get your driver’s license…Because you’re not sixteen, you’re four.” Yes, someone actually tried to convince me of this once or twice.

Don’t you ever wonder: what would it really  be like to have the rarest birthday in the world?  It could be one of those fun party icebreakers:  “How old are you?”  “Six”. You could join a group and commiserate/celebrate with other Leap Day babies.  And when you get to that age where birthdays are just embarrassing (now), you could completely ignore it if you wanted.  Oh, the possibilities.

As much as I sometimes wish I had been born on Leap Day, I do like having a March 1 birthday just about as much.  I kind of have a thing for numbers and I just think the first is a much “prettier” day than the 29th.  March firsters also get their own “special” day:  “In like a lion” day (bet you didn’t remember that one either).  And March is generally just a much nicer month than February.

That, and having an aquamarine birthstone alone makes it worth it.  Not even a purple amethyst can dissuade me of that.

And let’s be honest, even though I wasn’t born on Leap Day, I pretty much claim it anyway by telling nearly everyone that I was almost born on Leap day”.   My own little claim to fame.  I get all of the benefits of a Leap Day birthday and all the benefits of a March 1 birthday.  I guess that’s worth making me wait an extra day to celebrate every four years.

So, dear friends, I hope you find something adventurous to do on this 2012 Leap Day.  Remember it only comes around once every FOUR years and only in EVEN years divisible by FOUR.  But don’t worry, you can count on my to remind you in 2016 (wink).

And to all of my full-term pregnant friends…maybe consider a little…. castor oil…..today???!!

Happy Leaping,

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Impromptu

Impromptu family trip to the museum,
A shy little girl that doesn’t want to leave my side.
A huge doll house is where you find your comfort zone: “Baby!!”
And then that little girl never wants to leave. (Period.)
Impromptu search through a MG-sized refrigerator,
And finding just the right ingredients for a grilled cheese sandwich….(your favorite!)
Impromptu discovery of an area brimming with toys suited for a girl that’s…oh about 29.5 inches tall.
Impromptu art lesson with Daddy,
A confident crayon scribble, executed in Wild Blue Yonder.
Your first artwork, I’ll treasure it forever! 
Impromptu visit to the hot pink Barbie room.
Phone calls and chitchat naturally ensues.
Impromptu dance party atop Daddy’s shoulders. 
I think Barbie would approve.

Impromptu family trip to the museum

which can only be followed by 
 impromptu backseat picnic on the way home.
Raisins, pbjs, and strawberry-apple puree. The perfect impromptu lunch plans.
 Best.Impomptu.Sunday.afternoon.of.2012

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Our Story: Boy & Girl Play Coy

So he was smitten.

I knew he liked me.  His friends would not-so-casually hint around at it.  The football players would openly tease us and throw food at us whenever they saw us together.  I had even earned a coveted  nickname from the team which was more of a badge of honor than a mark of shame.  And basically, he just had that doe-eyed look when he looked at me.  That is something a woman will just never be able to ignore.

I was interested too.  But I guess the truth is that I wasn’t really ready to be in a “for keeps” relationship; so I kept my options open.  Besides, this was college.  Dating relationships would either end in a break-up or a marriage proposal.  Neither of which I was especially ready for.

When it came time for our wing to do Pick-a-dates, I didn’t pick him.  This was my freshman year….I wanted to live it up and sow all of my wild oats. {so to speak.}  I needed to size up the competition before we became official (which at our school translated to “ready to walk down the aisle). And besides, the ball was in his court.  It was time for him to make the first move.  

Fortunately or unfortunately, he had the relationship pace of a snail.

During this time, he never changed anything about his behavior to show me that he was ready for a committed relationship.  And I was really okay with it.  I liked our relationship as it was.  Sometimes we sat next to each other in our 18 classes.   Sometimes we passed notes and he drew funny pictures in my notebooks. He always teased me about other guys he saw me chatting with in the dining commons.  That was his “thing”.

He did on several occasions tell me that he thought I was very beautiful.  Of course I enjoyed this compliment but….and this is going to sound weird…that was just him.  I personally witnessed him telling other girls similar things.  He was and still is an encourager.  It didn’t bother me when he told other girls that.  1) Because I agreed with him and 2) Because I knew where we stood and nothing in his behavior made me feel threatened.  I never felt like he was telling me (or other girls) that because he wanted anything from me but only because he wanted to genuinely tell me what he thought.  He was simple and sweet and authentic.

So things progressed sweetly and slowly (strong emphasis on the “slowly”) just like this…

….And then one day it happened.

We were in the chapel (no, the irony does not escape me) sitting in our orientation groups.  N & I had been the last to arrive as our previous class had dismissed late.  We grabbed the two seats on the end of our group’s aisle.  The speaker must have been feeling particularly fiendish because he told us to turn and look in to the eyes of the person sitting next to us.  Four hundred freshman students swiveled in their chairs and held their breath.  And then he eloquently stated, “Because you could be sitting next to your future spouse.”

At that moment, our eyes locked.

If you’re wondering?  Yes, it was extremely awkward.

Of course we laughed it off…..
….because that’s what you do when you aren’t dating someone and everyone knows you like each other and you’ve just locked eyes as a speaker pronounced your man & wife.  Or something like that.

And just when we thought that was painful enough….it happened again.  But worse.

N lived not too far from school and one weekend late in the school year, he propositioned a bunch of his guy friends (who were also conveniently friends with my girlfriends) to drive down to his parents’ house for dinner & shopping.

Of course I was {casually} all in.

His parents hosted us warmly.  N and I nonchalantly sat on opposite sides of the table from each other on opposite ends.  Because we were both stubborn and that’s just how we did it.

After a lovely meal and as we were leaving, one of the girls thanked N’s mom for graciously hosting us and she said, “Oh we love having N’s friends over to the house and we especially welcome every girl.  Because you never know when our future daughter-in-law is going to walk through that door.”  And then I swear she looked right at me.

Was it really that obvious to everyone around us?

This time we didn’t laugh.
In fact, we actually didn’t speak of it until months upon months of dating.

Dating.  Isn’t that what a normal couple does when two people like each other?

Oh, we were far from normal.

Our relationship continued in this flirtatious, but purely flirtatious manner, for the entire first year of school.  There was no spoken commitment from either of us…but I knew he was going nowhere….and I felt a lot of freedom in that.  In fact, God knew that was exactly what I needed in my life at that time. We both had some living to get out of our system before we had our first DTR (“define the relationship” for all of you that didn’t go to a school that specialized in MRS degrees).

Besides, didn’t most couples you know that started dating right away during freshman year break up?

To his credit, N did take me on entirely one romantic date freshman year, but that is a story for another day.

To be continued…

And until then,
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part III

MG’s Birth Story (the miscarriage)

Our story of MG’s birth ends well.  It ends with a healthy and beautiful baby girl.  More perfect than we could ever could have imagined.  But it doesn’t start that way.  It started with one of the most painful events of our married lives.

But there is, as they say, beauty in pain.

“There is always some shame and fear in this, I think, shame for the terrible selfishness and loneliness of grief, and fear of the difference between your grief and anybody else’s.  And yet comfort somehow gets passed around…Once in a while we hear it sung out in a hymn, when every throat seems suddenly widened with love and a common longing: In the sweet by and by, We shall meet on that beautiful shore.”  Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

In September of 2009, I had been having a lot of “weird symptoms”.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was off: I was feeling nauseated, exhausted (but having trouble sleeping), and restless.  When I couldn’t shake these feelings, I turned, as usual, to my outlet of choice: the Internet.  Immediately, all the signs pointed to pregnancy.  I freaked.  This was not our plan.  We still had a lot of “living” left to do.

I shared my newfound computer knowledge with N.  He wasn’t fazed and told me there was a simple solution: just take a pregnancy test.  Negative.  So I tried to put it out of my mind for a couple of days. But deep down, I knew…I KNEW what my body was telling me.

On September 22, I woke up early (again) after a restless night of sleep (again). The pregnancy tests came in a pack of 3.  I decided it was time to seal my fate with a second attempt.

I didn’t have to wait the full 3 minutes before I began to see two blue lines appear.  Proof.  I was pregnant.  Though I was staring at reality, I couldn’t hardly believe it.  I never thought it would happen this way…unplanned, uncomplicated, unemotional. I felt as though I had just sampled from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Our youth was gone.  Our future was determined.  Our eyes were now open to a new and permanent reality.

I had to tell N immediately.  I let him sleep until his alarm went off, but I knew the second I heard him stirring, I would not be able to hold back our news.  There would be no cutesy banners or gift-wrapped onesies announcing our future. Just two sleepy, bed-headed sojourners at five in the morning.

He saw the light on in the guest bedroom and came padding in to find me reading. “Didn’t sleep well?”.

“Nope.” pause. Pregnant pause. I could find no good delivery.

“I took a pregnancy test this morning.”  He waited patiently.

“And?”

“Well, you’re going to be a father.”  (just a lot sooner than you envisioned.  I hope you’re okay with that.  I’m sorry that I’m going to be a wreck for the next nine months.)

I think I’m going to be sick” he said, and ran to the bathroom.

I couldn’t help but laugh at what I encountered when I found him there.  He was lying on the floor, broken out in a sweat, eyes closed, with a smile on his face.

“Did you throw up?”

“No.  I just feel like I could faint.” Oh boy.  I laid right down there on the floor next to him. My husband.  The father of my baby.  While I’d had some time to prepare for this and an hour or so to compose myself, he had just let himself believe it for the first time.

And he was smiling. This was a crazy journey we were on, but he was happy to be on it.  And suddenly, so was I.

After work that day, N brought home a cookie cake (my favorite) that said “My Baby’s having my baby”. It was a sweet gesture on his part, but I think it was also because N hates to keep secrets.  And he needed to tell someone, ANYONE, the biggest news of his year.  He did make the baker promise not to tell anyone.  And we let ourselves celebrate this new and overwhelming journey we had begun. It was our little secret, between just the 2(.5) of us (+the baker & the receptionist at the doctor’s office) eating cake and laughing in the face of our future.

We had let this baby into our hearts.  We had just begun to love it and think of it as our own. We had grown giddy with excitement over its growth. So who would have predicted that it would end so soon?  Why would God surprise us with new life and then just as quickly take it away?

Exactly one week later on September 29, I woke up to a card at my breakfast spot.  It said something sweet about the pregnancy and N proclaimed a new tradition to give me a card every week of the pregnancy.  (Secretly-I think he felt bad for his initial reaction, so he was trying to show me that he was truly glad we were pregnant).  It was a wonderful way to start the day, but when I arrived at work, things began spiraling.

I had arrived early to set up my supplies and get my room ready for the students.  Soon after, I discovered some alarming bleeding.  I called N right away and he talked me through it and we started praying.
The doctor’s office wouldn’t open for another hour and a half and thankfully my two morning classes were a good distraction from my frantic mind.  Much to my heavy heart’s dismay, the bleeding worsened.  Finally the doctor gave us the okay to come in to his office.  Before I left, another teacher pulled me aside and asked me what was going on.  I told her that I just needed to leave, that something was up, and asked if she could cover for me.  God bless her heart.  She must have known but she never said it.  She walked me to my car and alerted my boss.

N and I had carpooled that day and thankfully his office wasn’t at all far from the doctor’s.  I picked him up. We didn’t talk.  There was nothing to be said.

In the doctor’s office, we must have made quite the pair. I was the only one in the waiting room crying.  Nate tried to comfort me.  I’m sure some women were there waiting for the happy news they were pregnant or to find out the gender of their baby.  We most certainly tempered the mood.

The doctor examined me. He told me I was still pregnant, but often, the bleeding will lead to loss.  But then he gave me some hopeful news. He told me that he had seen miracles before.  I held on tightly to that word.

We weren’t yet ready to go home.  It was too late to return to work.  So we drove to lunch and in the car we talked about it for the first time. N had lost all hope.  He tried not to show me, but I knew.  “We can still have a miracle.” I said thinly. But I knew he didn’t believe that this would end well.
It felt really weird to sit there and eat our lunch, silently begging God for the life of this child that we had only known for about a week.  Just a little over a month ago, pregnancy had been the furthest thing from my mind.  Now I was consumed with thoughts about saving my baby.                                                                                                                                                       The rest of the afternoon, I fielded curious texts from co-workers and lay on the couch watching episode after episode of Laguna Beach.  It felt good to escape to the land of high school where the biggest problem was making sure you had a good date to the senior prom. I prayed and prayed and asked God for a miracle.

The next day, I didn’t know what else to do but get up and go back to work.  The bleeding had continued, but not enough to let me know if anything had happened one way or the other.  My boss confronted me;  I told him the truth and that we were still in limbo.  He was so kind.  Later that day, he emailed me a prayer he had written for our baby. The big and small and kind gestures of others is truly something I will never forget during this time.

I asked him if I could leave as soon as my classes were finished to go home and rest.  He told me not to worry and leave whenever I needed.  That was good because around 10am, the cramping began.  At first, I was able to walk it off, but they soon became stronger and I didn’t know how I could continue to teach the final two hours before lunch.  I told the neighboring teacher that I had to leave immediately. When she looked concerned, I started crying.

I don’t know how I made it home that day.  The pain was so intense that I thought several times I was going to throw-up.  I knew I was losing the baby.  Nate came as soon as he could.  He held me while I cried.  He didn’t cry much because he had already mourned the loss.  He had already known.  Up until that very point, I had held on to the thought that somehow I could save this baby.  What else can a Mother do?  I finally allowed myself to grieve its loss.

The doctor had asked me to come in the next day and he confirmed what I suspected.  The life within me, the great surprise of our year, had passed.  Thankfully, my body had emptied itself and no surgeries would be necessary.

He told me to wait at least 3 months before becoming pregnant again and most importantly that this was not my fault.  Even though I knew this was true, I kept finding different ways to blame myself.  I wondered if God was punishing me for something. I wondered if I had not loved or wanted the baby enough and that’s why it was taken away.  I wondered if I had not taken care of myself and all of the running I had done had provoked its demise.

I had only been given a few weeks as a Mother and already I had failed at my number one job: protecting my baby.

When those terrible thoughts resurfaced, I reminded myself that it wasn’t my fault.  Over and over and over.

It’s funny how things can so quickly change.  A month prior to this, I had never noticed all of the pregnant women around me.  Now, during these 3 months of wait, it seemed like every where I turned, there were round bellies and news of expectation.  I avoided Facebook for a while because every time someone complained (probably legitimately) about their children or their pregnancy aches and pains all I could think about was how I would gladly trade places with them.  My grief was consuming at times and next to non-existent at others.
In hindsight, those three months turned out to be a wonderful time for us and our marriage.  It gave us time to step away from the emotions and consider if having a child now was something we really wanted.  It taught us to have patience and rely on God’s timing and not our own.  It allowed my body to heal.  And it gave us a true, longing, all-consuming desire to become parents.

And as you already know, this story ends well.

There is pain in beauty and beauty in pain.

Sometimes I still think about our first little baby.  The little one whom we never knew nor held on earth.  The longer we remain on earth, the more we come to realize that Heaven is slowly being filled with people that we have known well or have longed to know.  This has only increased our ache for it.  Someday we will kiss the face of our unknown little one.

But had it not been for the life OR death of this child, we would not have our MG.  This tiniest of tiny human beings began one of the most important chapters in the story of our lives.

Such is the miracle of life.

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part II

Seal Lullaby

Oh! Hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us.
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon o’er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow;
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at they ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, no shark overtake thee.
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.
“Seal Lullaby” Rudyard Kipling.

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14 months/years

Have you met my daughter?

 She’s……{ahem}….. about 14 years old.

 
(she’s quite the babysitter.)
 (she always leaves her stuff laying around)
 
(sometimes she has her girlfriends over to play talk about boys) 
 
 (and one time, she threw a party and tried to clean it up before we caught her.  she failed.)
 (she drives a little, pink convertible. she’s quite proud of it.)

(too often, she stays up past her bedtime to read.  she did not get this from her Daddy.  no way.)

 (which inevitably leads to sleeping in till..oh ’bout 9:30am)
Oh how I love my little girl.  I’m reveling in the moments while she’s still little and very much girl.  I love that she loves and hugs and feeds her baby dolls….God innately puts this in us females at such a young age.
I love opening up a “safe” cabinet and discovering a little treasure she has left there for me.  That seems to be her love language right now.  I accept.
I love watching her “play” and interact with her friends.  Already learning important values like sharing and…. not biting.
I love turning around and discovering what she’s gotten into next.  Her curiosity never ceases to amaze me.
I love watching her play.  The house will seem oh-so-quiet on the day that ends.
I love that she is fascinated with books.  This actually makes my heart thump-thump a little faster.
I love that she has become my good little sleeper.  (But I have to admit, I’m kinda stumped by this new phase.
Does anyone know when I should start waking my sleeping baby? Anyone?)  
14 months or 14 years?
I love my precious girl!

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Surviving Mamaland: My Breastfeeding Journey

Just like natural v. c-section, med-free v. epidural and cloth v. disposable, breastfeeding v. formula-feeding is one of those hot topics in Mom circles everywhere.  You almost hate to even bring it up because it has such a polarizing effect.

Most of my Mommy friends at least attempted breastfeeding.  Many had issues with it.  Some didn’t.  Some stopped at 6 weeks, some stopped at 6 months, some pressed forward till one year and beyond.  Some didn’t even attempt it.  To me, breastfeeding is a completely personal choice.  I knew it was something that I wanted to do, but I fully support my friends who don’t.  It’s just one of those things that just because you want it to work, doesn’t always mean it will.  Good intention doesn’t necessarily equal reward.

During my pregnancy, I didn’t put too much thought into it.  I relied heavily on my strong desire to get me through.  Well, that and my doula* who was a former lactation consultant for La Leche League.

(*more on her later)

Considering my lack of preparation, it actually went surprisingly well and came very easily for both MG and I.  It also didn’t hurt that I birthed an 8lb, 11oz baby who was 12 days late.  She pretty much came out starving.  Per my birth plan desires, the doctor even gave us a good 45 minutes immediately following her birth to practice it right away.  After they took her away to clean her up and weigh her, we had still another 45 minutes or so to try again before her first bath.  All of these good fortunes set into motion a very positive breastfeeding experience for the both of us.

Here is a look back at my breastfeeding experience:

Week 1: Oh, so this is how it works!   I take pride in all of the compliments from doctors, nurses, and even complete strangers who compliment me on my choice.  Feeling empowered.
Weeks 2-3:Ooooouch!!  This reeeeeallly hurts!!  Wow, this really, really hurts.  Like reflexively curl-my-toes-in-pain hurts.  They say if you’re doing it correctly, that it shouldn’t hurt in the least.  I am struggling to believe people who say that.
Week 4-5: Starting to notice less pain.  Starting to resent Daddy that he couldn’t “help me out in this area”.  My wardrobe consists of mostly button-down shirts.  Boring!
Week 6: Came down with aches and a fever.  Diagnosed with mastitis.  Within 24 hours + antibiotics, began to feel almost 100% better.  Understand now what the signs are and how to take measures for future prevention.
Week 7-8: Finally starting to get the hang of it.  Everyone said that someday it would feel like this and it finally does.  Yay!
Week 9: MG is starting to go long stretches at night.  Wonderful for sleep, but not wonderful for my body.  Ow.  During the day, I am surprised at how quickly the feedings sneak up on me.  Every three hours from start time to start time is extremely time consuming.  Learning the art of eating and nursing at the same time.  An inevitable side effect of this is crumbs in your baby’s hair.  Sorry, MG!
Weeks 10-18:  Pain is now completely non-existent.  Hurray!  Loved the bond that I feel with my baby.  Weight is dropping off despite not “dieting”.  Daddy and I are both impressed with how I can nurse and multitask.  Wow, you can do that AND that at the same time??  
Week 19: Travel to CA with a 3-hour time difference.  Surprised at how well we both adapt to this.  Also, very thankful to be breastfeeding on take-offs and landings.  Not so thankful to be breastfeeding in public.  Extremely thankful for the nursing cover I had just months before scoffed at and my Mom had talked me into.  Mothers know best!
Weeks 20-35:  We are settling into a comfortable routine.  I especially love our late night and early morning sessions.  Such a sweet time.  My weight is just about back to normal.  A small, but huge victory.  Now if only I could put my cute clothes back on and get rid of all of these “button-ups”
Week 36: Travel to Mexico with just N for our 5-year anniversary.  MG stays behind with my parents.  Enjoying time away, pumping only 4 times/day, and wearing shirts that didn’t necessarily have “easy access”.  However, in the course of 5 days, my entire supply of frozen milk is completely depleted.  Upon return, there were literally 3 oz in the freezer.  Good thing we weren’t delayed in Dallas!  Surprised that I don’t notice any difference in my supply after only pumping those 5 days.  Thankful for a plentiful supply that not every woman is granted!
Weeks 37-44:  Between dropping a feeding and teething, we are both a hot mess. Neither of us is sleeping at night and no one knows why.  Starting to nurse in the middle of the night again to restore some normalcy.
Weeks 45-50: The ped said to drop the middle of the night feeding.  Despite MG being “little”, she’s not too skinny and doesn’t need to be fed at night.  Daddy is assigned night duty and after a few rough nights (for all three of us), they both figure it out and the night waking ceases.  (much to the betterment of my mental health)
Week 51:  My weight fell below my pre-pregnancy weight and I am still eating all I want.  Never expected that, but I’ll take it!  Starting to drop middle-of-the-day feedings and introduce cow’s milk.  It goes well.
Weeks 52-55:  Down to nursing twice a day: evening and morning.  Starting to feel sad about giving these up.  Feeling relived that I finally have access to my “entire closet”
Week 56: Contract a horrible stomach bug the day after Thanksgiving.  Made the decision to stop nursing cold turkey (no pun intended), 5 days before MG’s birthday.  She does surprisingly well.  I don’t.  Didn’t realize it would be such an emotional upheaval to stop.  The early morning feedings are the hardest ones to get over.
Week 57: MG cries in the mornings as she remembers what she was missing out on.  I cry too, but we press on.  I am a hormonal wreck: having night sweats and quick to tears.  Praying that it will bottom out soon.
Week 58-now:  I am so proud of her when she is able to move on.  I know it was really, really hard to just one day stop, but I felt like my hand was forced and then we had to stick to it.  To this day, MG still prefers water over cow’s milk (hmm…wonder who she got that from??)…., but we make sure she receives plenty of calcium, mainly through cheese and yogurt.

Now that I have been completely done with breastfeeding for 2 months, I am so thankful that we were able to do it and proud of what we accomplished!  It was no simple journey, but even so, it was worth all of the pain, late nights, illness and crazy hormones.  There were plenty of days that I was ready to throw in the towel (or, ahem burb cloth), but I am so thankful I had a good support system that encouraged me through the thick and thin.

And now that it is behind me, I am relishing in not having anyone living in me or off of me.  I am remembering how much I missed runny eggs and copious amounts of seafood.  I am enjoying the freedom of being able to take off whenever I want without leaving any parts of me behind.  And I am very sure that I will not wear a shirt that buttons down the front for a very long time.

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Our Story: Boy Meets Girl

It was the very first night of school.  After an entire day spent tirelessly moving in to our new dorm rooms, there would be an evening worship service; then the parents would leave and welcome weekend would officially begin .  In a single instant, I said goodbye to them and hello to my new life.  I had no idea what adventures I was walking into or where my life was headed.  I was trying hard to maintain my composure, but the magnitude of the moment did not escape me. The closest feeling I can compare it to is my wedding day when I was so happy, yet so sad and I couldn’t stop wavering between those emotions.  I was hovering somewhere between  contagious giggles and the ugly cry.

The freedom of a new life with  independence unlike I had ever experienced was so close I could taste it.  I had longed for this moment for 18 years and begged for it for at least the last 12 months.
But such a big adventure meant saying goodbye to all things  familiar. There was not a single person at this school who knew my name.  And there was something deliciously terrifying about that.

{It was in this very emotional and vulnerable moment that I would meet the person who would change my life forever.}

After my family and I said our goodbyes, I managed to hold it together on the long walk from the chapel to the designated meeting spot. I could see the other freshmen from a long way away.  They all looked confident and well-groomed, but you could just feel the nervous energy in the air.  Tonight we would all start anew on fresh terms.  Tonight we were all distancing ourselves from our past and beginning a new life together. Tonight we were all equals.

If only I could have known that night that I was going to be glimpsing into the eyes of my future.  Maybe I would have at least brushed my hair.

It didn’t take me long to find my orientation group.  It was a safe haven in a sea of strange faces.  We nervously made our introductions.  Being in college was soooooo different than high school.  Being cool meant not being cool. Looking sexy meant looking effortless.  Trying hard to look like you didn’t try too hard was so in…………..and other similar paradoxes.

And that’s when HE showed up.

He was uncharacteristically late.  His excuse?  He went to the wrong group.  {and later confessed he initially liked this other group a lot better…to his discredit}

First impression: He was an athlete (i.e. had huge muscles), he had a cool I-didn’t-try-too-hard-look (i.e. wearing a vintage 50/50 tee and beat up blue jeans), and he was someone I knew I needed to know (i.e. going to have tons of friends…namely ones on the football team {wink})

We made our informal introductions with our latecomer.  He passed me over too quickly for my liking.  So I went back to him with a hook I was sure to grab his attention: his fashionable shirt of choice.  Oh, the irony.  We debated the merits of Goodwill vs. Value Village (I shopped at Goodwill, he claimed that Value Village had much better prices) and Alabama v. Auburn (the shirt was Alabama, I was an Auburn fan) and I felt satisfied that I had left my mark.  Our leader dismissed us.  And then…AND THEN
He said, “Wait. We need to pray.  We do this really cool prayer with the football team that I would like to do here.”

Say whaaa??! A guy that not only suggested we pray but volunteered it?  And did he really just say “cool” + “prayer” in the same sentence??   And are we okay with this “football player lingo”?

I marked him in either one of two categories.  1) He wasn’t a Christian but was really loyal to his football team.  During the week of pre-season training camp, he had become strongly attached to this team and had therefore adapted some of their lingo.  2) He was not only an athlete and a leader, but a Christian too.  Say it ain’t so.

Our group met each subsequent night and each time I made it my mission to figure out this guy.  He was so different than any of the guys I had dated before.  And he intrigued me.

Each night, he volunteered to pray and his prayers were heart-felt and meaningful. He wasn’t a bad guy.  He didn’t care what other people thought about him.  He was a football player.  And I was strangely attracted to him.

I made an effort to sit by him and ask him questions.  He was polite to me, but in that first week he didn’t seem to pay any more attention to me than any of the other girls in our group.  {He later confessed that he was overwhelmed with all of the pretty girls at school…i.e.”babe overload”…and didn’t really narrow his sights solely on me for the first few weeks..at least.  We’ll just mark those down as the “lost weeks”}

I laughed at his stories.  I genuinely laughed.  He was funny.  Really funny.

And then, much to our college-loving-every-night-is-a-party freshmen hearts’ dismay, classes started.  Within the first week, we had been in class together like 12 times.  Looking back now, it is hilarious to think about God crossing our paths, over and over and over.  We could not seem to lose each other in the sea of new faces.

He started to notice me.

And I started to like his attention.

One night deep into the first quarter, I ventured into the library to get something for class. I saw a familiar face (or I guess, back of the head) on the second floor bent over a book.
There was a convenient seat open next to him and he was conveniently studying for one of the 8 tests we had together that quarter.

I asked him if I could join.
{That was a bold move for a polite, Southern girl like myself.}

He consented.

We “studied” for about 15 minutes and then began to talk.
He told me about several failed first dates that he had taken pretty girls on in high school.

They sounded magically charming to me.

He told me about the relationship he developed in high school and how it came to a surprising end.

And I was secretly envious.

I was so drawn to his personality.

Finally, the library closed its doors and he offered to walk me back to my dorm.
{That was a bold move for a Christian, football player like himself.}

On our walk, he lamented that girls tended to just write him off at first glance.

He left me wide open.
So I fell for it.

I said,

You know, I bet if more girls knew who you really were, they would find you much more attractive.”

Oh yes, it was a line straight out of the cheesiest romantic movie.  But I sincerely meant it.

And that was officially the end.
There would be no more of N + any other girl.
He was totally, 100% smitten.

So marks the end of the beginning.

There is still a horribly wonderful first date, a summer of letters, and a break-up that will break your heart still to come.  So sit tight.

To be continued…

And until then,

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part II

What do you do

When you wake up to retrieve your baby from her bed

Only to discover she’s been replaced by a big girl?

When you rub your baby’s head and expect to find downy-soft brown hair,  

Only to discover it’s blonde and thick and long enough for a ponytail?

When you say, “Com’ere, Baby” and you expect to hear four appendages excitedly slapping the floor,

Only to discover that there are just two?

When you ask your baby to eat something and expect her to just happily comply,

Only to discover our big girl now has an opinion about everything, including what she eats?

When you set baby down and expect her to stay while you cook dinner,

Only to discover that the cabinets are full of wonderfully exciting treasures?  Too wonderfully exciting to just sit and stare.

When you look back at a photo and expect to remember taking it,

Only to discover that approximately one year has passed since then.
But it does not seem at all  possible.

How do Mamas handle these things?

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve been cheated by Time.  I’m always fighting it and complaining that I haven’t been given a fair share.


But most of the time, I feel pretty proud.  Proud of my baby for growing up.  Proud of myself for seeing her through it.

We’ve accomplished a lot together, her and I.

And right now, at 14 months and 9 days, we have landed at this nice little place.  We are both a part of this secret club where you have a secret language and secret signs that communicate what only you two understand.  And we both think each other is pretty special.  She, so much so, that her world falls apart if I am not in the room it.   And I think I’m liking this place we’re at, so I don’t really mind that we can’t go backwards.  I just kinda wish we could stay here a little while longer.

So if anyone out there has figured out what to do about this, could you please let me know? 

You know where to reach me,

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p.s. If a cute little blonde answers, the secret password is “dog”…but you didn’t hear that from me.

7:30

I’ve always prided myself on my sleep habits.  Before MG, I had the circadian rhythm of, well, a cricket.

Every night, I would begin yawning around the same time….10o’clock.  Never have been much of a night owl.

Every morning, if given the chance to sleep until as late as I wanted, I would wake up around 7:30am.  Even on the weekends.  Always have been a bit of an early bird.

And for my next talent, I will tell you about how at the height of being in tune with my natural rhythm, I could even be my own alarm clock if I wanted.  At night as I was falling asleep, I would “meditate” on what time I would like to wake up.  Then I would take one last look at the clock to confirm the time..  To the minute, I would wake up every single time, at the time I imagined.  Just like clockwork.  {of course when I was working, I set an alarm as a back up, just in case.}

With no great surprise, having a baby completely changed this flow.

Heck, it started when I was newly pregnant.  I would wake up in the middle of the night and toss and turn until finally getting out of bed and reading until I fell back asleep.  This disappeared during the 2nd trimester, but came back with a vengeance at the 3rd.  It is also the main reason why I wanted to yell in frustration at the next person who told me to, “sleep before the baby comes” when I was 1090901 days pregnant.  I would’ve if I could’ve.
Prior to pregnancy, and being the early bird that I am, I enjoyed getting up in the mornings.   I enjoyed the morning routine, the feeling of accomplishing my to-do list so early, and of course getting a jump on the day.  If I ever slept past my normal 7:30am, especially if it was late, say 10:00am, I spent the rest of the day feeling behind and trying to catch up on those precious hours I had missed.

And then came the great upheaval

And my sleeping habits became greatly unbalanced.  Breastfeeding every 3-4 hours tends to do that to you.  Even when MG started sleeping “through the night” around 2 months, I would still stay up until 11:00pm at the earliest to feed her one more time before I went to bed  in the hopes that a full tummy would help her to sleep longer.   It wasn’t until around 7-8 months when we finally gave up that last “dream feed”…but by then it was too late for me.  I had come to appreciate that last hour or two when everyone else had gone to bed and the house was quiet.  I accomplished some of by best work then and still find myself staying up until 11:00/:11:30 most nights.

Around month 10, MG pushed back her morning wake-up call until about 8/8:30 which was h e a v e n l y.  Even if I went to bed as late as midnight, I was getting a full 8-8.5 hours of sleep.  And finally starting to retrieve some of my rhythm.

As we entered 2012, I started to think about some of my goals for the year.  One of them was to start waking up before MG and maybe, possibly?, recoup some of those glorious feelings I had waking up before the rest of the house.  It would mean a strict bedtime of 11o’clock, but I set out to do it.
At first, I set my alarm for 7:30am to make sure I would get up.  It took a lot of discipline, but I did it.
And now, for the past week or so, I have finally been waking up at 7:30 without help.  And it is so wonderful.  I read in bed for a while, cuddle with Atticus (who seems to enjoy this alone time with mom and a quiet house as much as I do), make mine and MG’s breakfasts, and then sometimes even eat mine before she begins sounding off.  I wake up happy, I wake up refreshed, and not having something or someone waking me up: I wake up feeling well-rested (can it be true??).

It’s almost as if I’ve added another lauded nap time to my day.

It is strange how long it takes you {in some ways} to feel like your old self after childbirth.

I think I’m starting to get back into that cadence once again {with new norms of course}.

And it feels really good.  Really, really good.  Almost like it’s time to add something new into the mix.  But not really.   Or really?  No, not yet.  Surely not.  This new normal is just too good.

 

 

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