Month: January 2017

Eight Months pt 2

(part one is really unrelated but what came out first as I started typing this post. Read here if you wish)

Eight months with our sweet Sib and this is what I know to be true:

-she has now lived longer in TN than IN

-she is a great napper but terrible night sleeper, for now

-she no longer lets us rock her to sleep, even at night.  She prefers to find her own path to the sandman.  This is 1) a bit sad to give up this rite, and 2) difficult because when she finds herself inexplicably awake between the hours of 3am-5am, not wanting to be by herself in her crib, not wanting to be in our arms to rock, and only able to eat once during this time.  So…I’m just supposed to…play with her??

-she is doing really well with the solids.  Never mind that I am trying to keep my ivory carpet free of the pumpkin orange and putrid green spit up. She’s also been able to eat little bits of cheese this month and suck fruit through a mesh strainer.  Her appetite for real food has seen a huge uptick and her interest in nursing has simultaneously decreased.

-she is full on army crawling and pretty determined to get to anything she eyes.  She has also gotten up on all fours so I think she will be “regular-crawling” this month.  It’s definitely the more efficient way for her, but also the more undesirable path for myself as it means…baby proofing, emptied cabinets, and the like.

-she is still a happy, sweet baby and we all delight in making her giggle

-she LOVES baths and will barrel roll continuously in the water while splashing and trying to drink it.  Due to her messy eating habits, she requires one nearly every evening, if not more frequently.

She has little tufts of white-blond hair, coming in rather thick this month.  She is solid in form, but not heavy.  Her legs are corpulent, as well as her puffy feet, which have very little use other than to be another object to mouth.  Her arms carry the most loose skin, as little balls of dough stack one on top of each other.  You can squeeze for a while before finding anything firm of muscle or bone. I will be sad to see these thin down as she becomes more adept at crawling.

She is Heaven wrapped up in a fleshy little babe and I’m so thankful for the thirty-five weeks she’s been ours

-smk

Eight Months

I thought I would be really sad to type out those two words: eight months.  The meaning of them being that we are well into the first year of life and rapidly leaving behind the blissful newborn days I adore so much.  But as I double check my heart after laying them out there, there are no negative feelings that remain.

Maybe that’s because these past three months have felt more newborn than I care to admit (a la sleep probs), or maybe because I feel a quickening excitement for the stage that is coming (the one that doesn’t involve so much round-the-clock high maintenance), or maybe it’s due to what I would like to hope is the most true: we are finally catching our breath after the whirlwind of 2016 and I am starting to really enjoy life again.

With this being my third round of infancy, I am in a very contented position.  I am familiar with the fleeting spell of this season, so I am able to enjoy the nuances of each month and the milestones each one brings.  I am also keen to note that because it moves by so rapidly, these dog days (or should I say nights) won’t matter much in a month or two, just an anecdote in a few years. “Sibby was, by far, my worst sleeper”.  This third trial has brought me the most peace in that regard.

As if it needed any more encouragement, Sibby’s sleep habits have quickly closed any door that cautiously remained cracked for future siblings.  She’s our baby, and it seems she wants it to remain that way.  I love our family like this.  I love having three girls.  I love this stage they are in now and I am trying to catch it all with my eyes and press it closely to my heart to not miss a sacred moment.  But every once in a while, I get knocked down by a wave of grief as I think about this season of life closing.  A birth announcement, a wet baby pressed to a mother’s chest, a silky-haired ragdoll sleeping in his bassinet.

Those moments seize up my heart for a little bit and cause me to second guess myself, “are you sure.  Are you really sure?”

It’s funny because I have no desire to be pregnant again, no desire to labor again, no desire to go through the newborn stages again (thanks to a certain 8 month old), no desire to lose the baby weight again.  It’s just for those few blessed moments in the hospital and a few fears (that the girls will lack without a third sibling, that our family will always feel someone’s missing, that we will regret our decision) that occasionally bring me back to a place of doubt.

But then the moment passes and I realize it is just part of the dance of grief.  There is no way to remove it at once, like an offensive mole with a scalpel, it comes out in bits and pieces.  A little here, a little there.  Consuming you just for a second before releasing you back to reality.

I’ve been a student of grief this past year and I am still trying to understand it because I seek to do it well.  I didn’t realize, at first, that these moments were a part of a grief process, but once I was able to name it as that, it gave me a lot more power over them.  Now, instead of letting overwhelming feelings cause me to doubt myself, I lean into them a little, press back on the bruise, and put myself a little farther down the line towards healing each time.

It’s okay to feel sad.  It’s good to feel sad.  Experience is better than ignorance.

These past seven years, the ones that began with this indelible moment, have been wonderful, and I only look back on them with the ruddiest of rose colored glasses.  My body swelled with life, and I swelled with pride.  I loved the attention it brought me. I loved having several close girlfriends cross that threshold with me.  Not lacking in confidence, I knew I was going to be the best mom ever.  And I spent days reveling in a daydream of what motherhood was going to look like.

Well that was a wishful thinking at its best, but, I would say, save for about 5% of agony, I’ve enjoyed these baby-rocking, toddler-raising, preschool-answering, elementary-hugging years.  I move ahead with a little trepidation that the next seven years won’t somehow be as good, or as sweet, or that I won’t relish them as much because they will somehow be mundane.

But that would mean I’ve lived my seven best years already, and I refuse to let that be,

-smk

Updates

The past few afternoons have been spent vetting preschools for Bea (for next year, though enrollment begins soon).  I was lamenting to N how I miss living in a small town and only having a few options to choose from.  He lovingly reminded me that I felt the opposite way when I lived in that small town.  Grass, greener.

Sibby’s suddenly reverted into a newborn and has me up and down every two hours consistently, for the past three nights.  Well it’s worse than a newborn really because she should be old enough to be through this by now and none of my newborns were EVER this bad with sleep.  (Bea was doing four-six hour stretches the night we brought her home and MG was not too far behind that).

I can’t nap though, not with school pickup in the middle of my day and a few precious moments of quiet time immediately proceeding. My body has gotten into the habit of it, and I’ve prayed that God would take my broken 6 hours of sleep and turn them into 8.  So I’m functioning through it, and find my linguistic skills are the most affected.  By the time 4pm rolls around, I can barely carry on a conversation without mumbling, losing my train of thought, or having a moment of panic where I can’t come up with the correct word.

In the evenings, I should go to bed at 8:30 after I put Sibby down.  I should.  But I don’t.  I stay up, sometimes as late as 11, just to show the clock who’s boss.  It’s the only time in my day where I control my hours, so it’s worth it to me, most nights. It makes me feel human.  And besides, I may as well stay up for one more feeding to get it behind me before my first nap of the night.

It’s winter here but it doesn’t much feel like it.  The temps have been hovering around 60-65, sometimes higher.  The trees in our backyard were vivid green, then scaled backwards through the rainbow, and now they are a morbid brown.  We have tipped back over to the waxing sunset, the one that appears a little later each day.  We are winter in looks but spring on the brain.

That is, until about 4pm, then we are winter in the brain too.

-smk

2017

After the last post, I think it goes without saying, I’m very excited for a fresh start to 2017.   I love getting on social media and seeing that I’m not the only person who feels this way.  It seems there are many of us in a state of reflection and aspiration this January and I’ve loved seeing what others are doing, whether it be food fasts, picking a word to focus on throughout the year, or the good, old-fashioned resolution.  Solidarity.

I, too, carry a torch of hope this January as I look ahead to the big picture of a whole year. Three-hundred and sixty-five days of a blank slate.  In 2017, I want to obtain SETTLEMENT, to feel PEACEFUL, and RESTFUL.  I don’t have any specific resolutions this year, but I have a lot of prayers and this verse that keeps coming up

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, ESTABLISH, strengthen, and SETTLE you.” 1 Peter 5:10

I’m praying this is the year we find our next church home, our core group of friends, and N finishes his doctorate.  I’m hopeful we can put our finishing touches in this house and make it feel completely like ours and a comfortable resting place for a long time.

I’m dedicated to strengthening my body through time spent in exercise everyday and strengthening my mind by reading more books that I like this year (2016 was kind of a bust for good books for me.  I either didn’t finish or didn’t like most of the ones I read. Plus having a newborn killed my pace for a while).

Right now sewing is my go-to hobby in my afternoon free time but I am behind on Sibby’s baby book and feel the pressure to catch up, and ultimately finish around her first birthday.  I also feel the call to write more and whenever I read a good book, it fills my heart with an even greater longing to do so. I’m hoping that more & higher quality input = more & higher quality output.

I’m paying attention to the way I start to feel a bit sad everyday around 3:30pm.  I’m not sure the significance of this despondent hour; if it’s due to the winter hours and that’s when the light begins to change from full sun to creeping towards sunset, or if it’s when the day starts to feel like it’s over because MG is home from school and my short window of leisure is running out.

I feel stretched thin in my time, to be sure. Managing the needs of the three little ones is a lot, on top of caring for the house, keeping up with hobbies, and the aforementioned exercise. I think it’s good to pay attention to little nigglings of dark feelings and try to root out if they are coming from a good place or a negative one.  So my ear is cocked, proverbially speaking.

Being stretched thin makes me aware that I cannot give each girl my best, and carries with it some guilt.  I can’t decide if this is coming from a place of mom-guilt, remorse, or a true need to manage my time better, so I am paying attention here as well. Trying to manage and schedule us well so that I can feel a satisfaction as I lay my head on the pillow with how I spent each day.  Perhaps that is chasing after a unicorn, so to speak, but I don’t want to look back and think I could have done better, or even given up one small thing that would make a huge difference.

Finally, Is is weird that I am so dedicated to this blog?  That I’m still pecking away at it in the face of a collective blogging demise and despite not turning over a dime for it? I think the answer is yes.  I have steered away from and turned down all offers of sponsored posts because I think they take away from my original mission of the blog, which is to tell my family’s story from my perspective.  I’ve never cared much about growing my audience or scaling it, so to speak, but wrote with a hopeful longing that my humble thoughts will find their way into the hands of the right people. And, the public nature of it keeps me accountable (I’ve found through many false starts that I am not a long-term journaler.  The public nature of this blog is what keeps it running.  The comments and likes feed the bear.)

2017, here I come.  Older and wiser, worn and sleepier.  A fulcrum tipping towards peace and rest, I do so hope.

-smk

Farewell, 2016

2016.  What a year.  WHAT A YEAR

I have this awkward feeling that I’ve had the same conversations over and over this year and between this blog, Instagram (both pages), and my brief fling with Snapchat, I feel as though I have thoroughly dissected 2016, ad naseum.  But just in case I haven’t, and for the sake of my future self, who will surely look back on this post with the hopes of a wrap-up, here is 2016 in a nutshell:

Pregnant with Sibby, N began interviews all throughout IN and TN; sometime in May, N received a job offer in TN.  We were thrilled until communication began drying up and we received word that some changes had been made in administration and all new hires would be un-hired and reinterviewed at a later point.  I gave birth to Sibby, my parents moved to Nashville; Sibby got really sick (still don’t know the cause or what to officially call it) ;thankfully she made a full recovery; while we were in the hospital, N received a a job offer in Nashville (from a different school than where previously hired and after many, many more interviews); we came home, put our house on the market and two days later left for vacation in Rosemary beach; on our way home from vacation, we dropped off N in Nashville to begin his job; the girls and I went back home to show and sell our house (important to note Sibs was 6 weeks old at this point); MG started kindergarten in August and went to live with my parents and N while Bea, Sibby, and I stayed back in IN to sell our house and buy a new one. We found our TN house that month after several misfires with the crazy-hot market, including being outbid by way over asking price at least once (a house would hit the market, N would go look at it that day while Facetiming me. If we liked it, we would be prepared to make an offer that night).  In July we celebrated 10 years of marriage!  It was supposed to be a big trip somewhere, but after the year we had, we threw together a little celebration in Nashville somewhere (we were just happy to be in the same city at that point!). We moved in on Labor Day weekend and my sister told us she was expecting!!  (we would later find out it was a BOY!).  Things finally began to calm down a bit but we still hadn’t sold our house until November when we got two offers within 48 hours, had some extensions and back and forths, but we finally signed the closing paperwork early this month.  We thought we were done, in the clear, and then we received the terrible news that my very good friend Amy had passed away.

That was, quite possibly, the longest paragraph I’ve ever allowed on this blog and just reading it makes my throat constrict in anxiety just a little bit. Those are just the facts, the bones if you will.  It doesn’t include the meat of this year.

What it also doesn’t include is… the times N would go south to interview. The stress of the interviews and how we never knew (but had to be prepared for) where we would end up.

It doesn’t include the pressure of having to get the house show-ready after coming home from an unexpected week stay at the hospital and leaving for vacation two days later (thankfully my mom was there..WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE WITHOUT HER).

…The way Sibby had to be forced out in an induction & her birth was almost a mirror image of MG’s, minus the 3 hours of pushing and the pushy doctors.  This came after months of praying it wouldn’t be this way.

….The immense sadness and dread I felt at being alone for 8 weeks with the three little ones (including an unpredictable infant). (Like that time a tornado came through and came as close to our house as ever before)  Add to this, the showings at all hours of the day and weeks of trying the shuffle my rag tag team around by myself while also getting and keeping the house in show-order.

…Sending MG off to kindergarten tore me up and not being there for her for the first few weeks was AWFUL.  Then with a new job came growing pains and new stresses as you take on, not only a new school, but a new district, a new state, culture, and climate as well.

It doesn’t include that we had to say goodbye to some solid friendships, church, and neighbors, and start completely over, knowing it would take a year or more to find our footing.

It doesn’t include the back-breaking move and how this year HURT financially as we met our deductible between birth and infection (followed shortly by changing insurances—ughhh), moved on our own dime, set up our house and all the many expenses that came swooping in right away, and spent 3 months paying two mortgages.  This was stressful at the time but I don’t want to remember it as a negative because somehow, I don’t even know how, He worked this out.  Somehow it all worked out.

It doesn’t include that kindergarten has brought a pervasive undercurrent of sadness.  Oddly, it’s exactly what I expected but I also expected it to be better by now.  The household just doesn’t feel with same without MG in it at all times. I miss her.  The other girls do too.

It doesn’t include that I still don’t feel recovered from having a baby.  Amidst everything else I’ve been doing this year, I’m still trying to make my body, hair, and skin behave after what they’ve been through.  I know it’s only been 7 months so that is normal of course, but still 16 months (7+9) is still a long time to feel like you are living in an unfamiliar body.  And when I find myself looking around and taking stock of my new life, new house, new state, it would be nice to have something familiar, one thing that personally belongs to me that I could count on.

It doesn’t include the election, which is more of a national thing than a personal one, but I was blindsided by and unprepared for the emotions that the election results brought about and I think I spent a good week in an emotional fog.

It doesn’t include that we had to fire our first realtor and our second realtor was a GODSEND because we ended up having some drama with the sale, and had to make some hard decisions that he navigated us through.

It doesn’t include, what I feel is, a brush with death for our dear Sib (the sepsis infection), and then the very real death of my friend Amy that completely shocked me and terrified me and kept me in a state of fear and sadness for much of the remainder of this year.

This year was HARD.  In so many ways.  And probably the HARDEST one I’ve lived through, definitely the hardest one of our marriage.  But the things that came out of it were good.  Very good.  We have Sibby.  We have a wonderful job.  We have MG in school at, what we would consider, our DREAM school. We have a house with all the amenities we could ever want. We have my parents.  We have my sister and brother-in-law (and soon to be NEPHEW).  We have the south.  And more importantly, we have a better sense of God’s love for us, a testimony of how He redeems us, and a story of His faithfulness.

And I know I experienced an intimacy with Him that I hope will not be soon forgotten.  I can remember how He took my fear away when I was living by myself  (a true miracle because I am prone to fear so often).  I can remember PHYSICALLY feeling His presence with me at times which I can’t ever remember feeing before in my life.  He spoke so clearly to me during this entire year, right from the verse He gave me on December 31, 2015 which stopped me in my tracks,

Isaiah 43:6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’  

to the support system He gave me through friends and our neighbors when I was weak and vulnerable on my own.

I don’t like to reflect too much on this year because it instantly induces a leap of panic, but I do want to purposefully remember how loud and clear His voice was and how He just kept showing up with more and more love for us.

2016 took a lot out of me.  I feel wind whipped and like I’m still catching my breath after a(n unplanned and untrained for) marathon.  But It also gave me a lot.  Probably the most any year has ever given me.  So for that, 2016, I thank you, but I am eager to move ahead into your (hopefully) PEACEFUL and RESTFUL brother, 2017.

-smk