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Zephaniah’s Birth Story

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Although I never posted about being pregnant with baby #2 on this blog, my second son, Zephaniah Matthew, made his “fast and furious” appearance into the world five days ago! Yesterday was his due date. We are so glad he came when he did though proving that God’s timing is always perfect. I was hoping the baby would come at least by August 29. Gerald is starting a new job on Sept. 6 so this gave us at least a full week together before he has to begin training. We’ve gone through a lot of changes this summer and some tough things, but even through the rougher times we’ve been blessed to see God’s Hand at work through that and His provision for us even if it’s not exactly the way we wanted.

I love reading others’ birth stories so if that’s something that doesn’t appeal to you, you might want to stop reading right here. 🙂 I’m not going to go into a lot of graphic details, but I’m writing this mostly so I can look back on it and remember. I also think it helps other moms sometimes to read another woman’s birth experience. Be warned, it’s a little long even though the birth was quick.

Zeph’s birth story begins much like his older brother Jaylen’s. Even though I’d been through labor before, I started getting anxious in the weeks leading up to the birth. It’s hard not knowing when or how labor will begin. Since my water broke (without contractions) with Jaylen, I didn’t know what it would feel like to have labor begin with contractions. Again I was praying that I would know when it was time to go to the hospital. I wanted the baby to come soon so Saturday night before going up to bed I sat on my birthing ball (exercise ball) and started moving my hips in circles in both directions on it for about 15 minutes or so. Supposedly that is supposed to help induce labor.

God answered my prayer. Around midnight on August 28, I’d been sleeping for about an hour (I was staying up late watching shows on my computer to relax). I woke up feeling a little bit of liquid. Immediately I thought my water might have broken again. I went to the bathroom and put on a pad then waited a little bit. Sure enough, I felt some occasional gushes of liquid after that so I was pretty sure my water broke. Praise the Lord, I knew this meant I definitely had to go to the hospital! I went downstairs to call the doctor and she told me to come in (as expected). Then I woke Gerald up around 12:15 and we started to finish getting our things together for the hospital.

The good part about living at my parents’ house temporarily right now is we could easily leave for the hospital and not have to worry about who will come stay with Jaylen. I went into my parents’ room to wake them up, told them my water broke, and gave them the baby monitor to Jaylen’s room. Before leaving I snuck into Jaylen’s room to say goodbye to him, which was kind of emotional for me. I knew his life (all our lives) would never be the same after this. I gave him a kiss on the head, snuck out, and off we went to the hospital around 1 am.

On the drive, I was having some mild cramping, but it felt like nothing more than menstrual cramps. We arrived at the hospital and checked in a little before 1:30 am. They checked me to verify that my water broke, said I was about 4 cm dilated (I had been 3 cm at my last appointment 4 days before) and began the process of admitting me. They seemed to take their time asking me all their health history questions, asking about my previous delivery, etc. I was still feeling contractions every once in a while, but they weren’t too painful. I got hooked up to the IV around 3 am. Unfortunately the nurse did it poorly the first time so she had to get another nurse to come in and redo it on my other hand. I have bruises still from this (actually on both hands). So that wasn’t fun. The nurse said that doctor told her that if my contractions didn’t start getting more regular and stronger by 6 am then they would start me on Pitocin. I really didn’t want to be put on Pitocin again if I didn’t have to be so I really hoped my labor would progress on its own this time.

The nurse came back not long after this and told me the doctor was now at the hospital and wanted to start me on Pitocin as soon as possible. I asked her if we could wait because last time things progressed really quickly after being put on Pitocin and I wanted to see what my body could do on its own. She agreed to wait a little while and I think she came back half an hour later (this is when I don’t really know what time things were happening). She was checking my chart and said my contractions were still about 5-7 minutes apart (I could feel them definitely getting stronger though) and suggested we start a tiny dose of Pitocin to help me labor more effectively with stronger contractions. I told her I was probably going to want the epidural soon since I was planning on getting it again (it made my first labor so nice). By now I wasn’t really able to talk through contractions. I really had to focus on breathing through them because they were starting to get more intense. I remember telling the nurse that I want the epidural now. She left the room briefly and when she came back Gerald told her that I really wanted the epi. Somehow in that short span of time my contractions got super strong and painful. The nurse decided to check me and said I was now at 6 cm. As she was checking me, she noticed I was breathing really hard and she asked, “Are you okay?” I was like, “I’m just feeling pain.” (I’m in labor…what do you expect?) Then she told me I was contracting.

After that she suggested I lie on my side. I was in intense pain, feeling sick/nauseous, and I was gripping the bed rail so tightly. I started to feel pressure and I could feel my body starting to push. I tried not to because we weren’t ready for this! I told the nurse I felt a lot of pressure and I think she ran to get the doctor. At this point I knew I wasn’t getting the epidural and I was going to have to do this without the pain meds–not in my birth plan, but at that point I couldn’t focus on anything except enduring the pain. I must’ve seemed like I was hyperventilating because they put an oxygen mask on me. Gerald said at this point he started feeling like he might pass out because he was seeing me in so much pain. All these nurses were rushing around the room, they checked me and they’re like, “We see the head!” So they started setting the bed up for delivery really quickly. Meanwhile I’m trying to fight the urge to push but I can’t help it so I cried out, “I feel like I have to push!”

The doctor walked into the room and she got ready really quickly and told me, “You can push if you need to!” I wasn’t feeling the need as intensely at that moment but suddenly she’s telling me we need to get this baby out so you need to push now!  The nurses were encouraging me (Gerald was trying to figure out what he could do at this point since they didn’t want him in the way but he wanted to encourage me too) and with two pushes, Zephaniah was born. The nurses and doctor all said he was a one push baby, but technically I feel like it was two. I felt immense relief pushing, actually. I don’t even remember feeling a lot of pain at that point. They did end up giving me an episiotomy too, which wouldn’t have been my choice, but the doctor said it was necessary to prevent worse tearing.

They placed Zeph on my chest and I felt so relieved and couldn’t believe I’d just had a IMG_1895natural unmedicated labor (since that’s not what I was planning on doing). The worst part was getting stitched up afterwards. It felt like it took forever and was so uncomfortable (though not as bad as labor). The doctor and nurses were amazed at how fast the labor went. They said the doctor walked into the room at 4:19 am and Zeph was born at 4:23 am. Crazy to think my labor was less than 4.5 hours from start to finish and they didn’t even use the Pitocin! 🙂

I told Zeph later that he made me realize I’m a lot stronger than I thought.I didn’t think I could handle an unmedicated childbirth, but I did. The nurse even asked me if I did it again if I would’ve asked for the drugs earlier. I’m not sure because I don’t regret not even having to get the epi. It helped that it was over so quickly. If I had to endure those horrible contractions for hours, I would’ve definitely gotten the epidural.

We asked for an early discharge from the hospital so we went home late Monday afternoon. Recovery-wise I feel a lot better after this birth than I did with my first. I was never in a lot of pain and the nurses seemed surprised that I didn’t want more pain medication. This is probably a blessing since I have a 2.5 year old at home that also wants my attention. Now we’re adjusting to life with a newborn again plus a toddler (who unfortunately is getting a little sick now…not good for baby). We don’t have a lot of expectations right now so we’re just trying to go with the flow and nap when we can. Jaylen had a rough night our first night home after being woken up by Zeph (then also crying when he was crying), but I think he’s starting to adjust. It’s cute when he tries to help or wants to take care of the baby, but right now we’re trying to find that balance of him “helping” (and not hurting the baby) but also letting him know that he needs to stay a away a little bit because he’s sick.

We would appreciate any prayers for this transition time. I’m already imagining how hard it will be when Gerald starts working and I’m on my own with two kids. But we’ll take it one day at a time.

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Sleeping Through the Night! (Mostly)

*NOTE* I meant to publish this nearly a year ago (soon after J started sleeping through the night), but now that he’s almost two, I figured I’d better finally hit publish on this post. Below is what I wrote earlier this year (and finished today so I can’t remember the details as well now) and I hope it will possibly help some sleep-deprived parent out there.

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After 13 and a half months, it finally happened–Jaylen slept through the night! We didn’t really do any kind of sleep training, but I did start following a “plan” in January (after Jaylen got better from having hand, foot, mouth disease) that I somehow found online. It’s from Dr. Jay Gordon, who supports attachment parenting.

Since Jaylen started drinking cow’s milk after his first birthday, I wanted to start weaning him from night nursing. We didn’t really like the “cry it out” method, so when I found Dr. Gordon’s article, I thought it sounded more do-able for us. He doesn’t advocate doing any kind of sleep training until your baby is older (like 12 months or older), which makes sense to me. I also continued to night nurse because I wasn’t pumping as much milk during the day when I was at work since Jaylen was at least 8 months old and knew he wasn’t taking in much milk while I was gone. Obviously he could go for 11-12 hours without drinking milk, but I was concerned he wasn’t getting the daily amount of milk he needed so I think he really needed to get those calories and nutrition at night. Even though it means I didn’t really sleep well for over a year, it’s worth the sacrifice. Plus now I sometimes miss those nights when I’d get to hold him in my arms because now he’s usually still sleeping when I leave for work (if I don’t need to drop him off at the babysitter’s) and that means I don’t see him for nearly 24 hours when I get home!

So for parents who want to try this more gentle version of sleep training, basically Dr. Gordon says you should choose a period of time when you want to get continuous sleep like 11 pm to 6 am. I also went with those hours because sometimes I’m still awake before 11 anyway. So after you put your baby to bed, if he wakes up any time before 11 pm (even at 10:58), you can go in and do whatever you usually would do to help him sleep (rock, nurse, etc.). Then between 11 pm to 6 am, you follow the following guidelines:

Nights 1-3

If your baby wakes, you can nurse, but do it for shorter periods of time. I would go in and only nurse him for one minute (it was also easier for me to keep track of this since I was counting the seconds in my head). Then you can hug him, rock him, etc. but make sure you put him down awake. That wasn’t a problem for us because even after nursing, Jaylen usually went down awake and would fall asleep on his own. He was typically waking 1-2 times a night at this point. For these first few days, you can only repeat this pattern after the baby has slept. This can be challenging if your baby fights this new way of sleeping (understandable though), but stick with it!

Nights 4-6 

Again, stop nursing to sleep at 11 p.m. When your baby wakes, hug and cuddle him, but do not feed him, and put him down awake. Since I’m writing this part nearly a year after we did this sleep training, I can’t remember exactly how these few nights went, but eventually Jaylen did sleep without needing to eat. I think I also offered him water instead of breastmilk at night. When he realized he wasn’t getting milk, he decided to just sleep. It was hard staying in his room to comfort him when I’d rather be sleeping, but in the end it was worth it.

We didn’t even have to continue the plan (which has instructions for nights 7, 8, 9, and 10). At this point, Jaylen started sleeping 11-12 hours straight a night. Of course, I thought the first night was a miracle and tried not to expect it to happen again (from past experience), but it did! We do have our moments and weeks of not sleeping (like from sickness or random night wakings), but they are fewer and definitely nothing like those first 13 months of his life.

I recommend reading Dr. Gordon’s article since he gives better descriptions and instructions than I do here, but this method worked for us and if I have another future kid that’s not a great sleeper, I will definitely try this again after the baby turns a year old.

So if you are currently a sleep-deprived parent of an infant, don’t worry–you will sleep again someday. It definitely won’t be the same kind of sleep you got before you had kids, but it will be better than now. My only problem now to getting more sleep is getting myself to bed earlier!

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Being a Mom Doesn’t Make Me More Worthy of Appreciation

I became a mom nearly 17 months ago and it has drastically changed my life. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been doing this for years…like I can’t remember what life was like before Jaylen. Other times, I feel inadequate for this task of raising a young person. Before I became a mom, I always used to write my mom cards about how much I appreciated the things she did for me and sacrifices she made (like taking me to horseback riding lessons even though she was allergic to horses). I never really fully understood the depth of the sacrifices my mother made for me until I had my son. I loved this list I saw on Facebook a month or so ago (taken from a HuffPost article):

10 Things Your Mom Never Told You

 

As I read this list, I got a little teary because all of these things are true for me (except maybe #2 because we don’t let Jaylen eat pie, but I know this will be true later in life). It’s not always easy or fun, but I would do it all over again.

However, as much as I love being “mama” to someone, my identity is not dependent on whether or not I’m a good mom. I know Mother’s Day can be challenging for many women–those who struggle with infertility or who have suffered the pain of miscarriage or even abortion. Being a mom can be hard work, but it doesn’t make moms any more important than any other woman. We are all valuable and loved not because of who we are, but because of Whose we are.

I think this quote from Ann Voskamp explains this well.

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So this Mother’s Day, yes, let’s all appreciate our moms for the sacrifices they’ve made–for essentially giving their own lives (their time, their desires, etc.) for ours. But let’s also remember to love and honor all women today as well because we can all be like a mother to someone whether we have our own children or not. We all can find our worth in the love of our Heavenly Father. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, He declares us worthy.

If you want a reminder of this, check out this video from Rachelle Dekker‘s site, becauseiamlove.com and share your own story! {Disclaimer: I am the publicist for Rachelle’s upcoming novel, The Choosing, but I LOVE this message and would promote it even if I wasn’t her publicist!}

 

And Happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful mom! 🙂

My sister, my mom, & me at our church's Mother/Daughter tea

My sister, my mom, & me at our church’s Mother/Daughter tea

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Brown Bear Birthday Party

On Saturday we celebrated Jaylen’s first birthday. One of his favorite books over this past year has been Brown Bear by Eric Carle (even these past 3 days he’s been bringing it to me to read as his bedtime story). So I decided to use Brown Bear as the theme for the party. There are tons of great ideas on Pinterest, of course. We had Jaylen’s party at the Heller Nature Center with family and friends. It was a great venue with a little nature area kids could explore.

Here are some great photos that capture the day by Jake Preedin of Dirt Cheap Photography. If you ever need a photographer in the Chicago area, he’s very affordable and great to work with!

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Banner from The Banner Shoppe

Banner from The Banner Shoppe

The centerpieces were flowers in the animal colors from the book.

The centerpieces were flowers in the animal colors from the book.

My little baby model...look at that pose!

My little baby model…look at that pose!

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I made a banner with Jaylen’s monthly growth photos. We could only use painter’s tape to hang things so that’s why it doesn’t look as nice. I don’t have a picture of both strands of the banner, but you can see it behind the table in some pictures.

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Jaylen is one quarter Korean and first birthdays are a big deal in Korean culture. So my mother-in-law set up the traditional Korean first birthday table for Jaylen (my husband had a similar table on his first birthday). The objects on the front table represent different careers Jaylen might choose in the future (stethoscope – doctor, paintbrush – artist, tambourine – musician, Bible storybook – ministry, little basketball – athlete, apple – teacher, rope – long life, marker (which I added in after this picture was taken) – writer). We had guests vote for which career they thought Jaylen would pick.

Traditional Korean 1st Birthday Table

Traditional Korean 1st Birthday Table

Korean Rice Cake

Korean Rice Cake

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Love this one. :)

Love this one. 🙂

We lay all the career objects out on the floor and let Jaylen pick one out. He was definitely drawn to the book first–a boy after his momma’s heart! So maybe he will have a career in ministry. We let him choose a second object and he picked the tambourine. So we said he’ll be in music ministry. Then we drew a name from the people who said he’d pick ministry as his career and Jaylen’s Uncle Pearson (who is a pastor) won the prize! It was a little owl ornament because Jaylen loves owls too.

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I also got this great poster from Petite Lemon to hang on the wall. It’s available as a free download. I got it printed at Staples for less than $10, which is not bad consider how large the poster is! The photos are 8×8 printed from Mpix (the picture Jaylen’s blocking is one of his newborn photos). I plan on doing this every year, but next year I’ll probably print the poster and laminate it so I can reuse it instead of printing a new one each year. I just noticed Jaylen always seems to be standing with the same pose…haha.

Poster from Petite Lemon

Poster from Petite Lemon

Lovin Oven Cakery did a great job with the birthday cake. If you order a first birthday cake from them they also give you a complimentary smash cake. Pretty good deal!

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I made the “I am One” banner from some instructions I found on Pinterest. It’s really easy to do and I thought it turned out great.

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Jaylen loved all the attention. He smiled while everyone sang to him. 🙂

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Playing around the nature exhibit

Playing around the nature exhibit

One other thing we had guests do was write a letter to Jaylen that he will read on his 16th birthday. That’s something my mom did at my first birthday party (and subsequently did not do it for my younger siblings…that’s what happens when you’re the firstborn). I thought it was a really cool idea back when I was 16 and I hope Jaylen feels that same way in 2029!

This last picture isn’t from the party because the shirt arrived at our house while we were at the party, but it’s a personalized birthday shirt from Petite Lemon. It’s hard to get a one year old to sit still for photos so this is the best I could get. Love the shirt though!

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Although I was stressed the week of the party because my birthday was that Monday, Jaylen’s actual birthday was on Friday, and I had lots to do to get ready for the party on Saturday, everything turned out just the way I’d planned. Jaylen and everyone else had a great time and our parents did a lot too with getting the food (we catered Chinese and Gerald made some Korean food–kimchi fried rice–since Jaylen’s Chinese & Korean…and white), bringing things I forgot, and just helping out in general. Thanks to everyone who helped set up and clean up too. Jaylen won’t remember this party, but these pictures will help him relive it when he’s older!

Vendors I used:

Invitations/Favor tags/Food Tents // Bee Bee’s Dezigns

Photography // Dirt Cheap Photography

Venue // Heller Nature Center

Banner // The Banner Shoppe

Birthday Poster // Petite Lemon

Flowers // Mariano’s

Cake // Lovin Oven Cakery

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To My Son, On His First Birthday

One year photo by Alyssa McNally

One year photo by Alyssa McNally

Dear Jaylen,

One year ago today you made me a mother and I discovered another part of my heart that I never knew existed. You hadn’t done anything, but I loved you. Those first few days, weeks, and months were rough. Even though I was exhausted, as I gazed at you during those middle-of-the-night nursing sessions and when I felt frustrated because you wouldn’t sleep and nothing I did would soothe you, I would hold you in my arms and be overwhelmed with love for you. I chose to continue to give up sleep for you (I still do–you’ve never slept through the night)–really, I’d do anything for you–simply because you’re my son. Becoming your mother has given me a deeper understanding of God’s unconditional love for us as His children. One day I hope you’ll understand God’s love for you in this way too. I never want to see you get hurt–physically or emotionally. I don’t want to see you make bad choices. I know I can’t protect you from everything (nor should I), but I want you to know that no matter what you do or don’t do, I will always love you. God’s love is the same way. He loves us just because we are His children, not because of anything we’ve done. I love you because you’re my son. Nothing will ever change that.

It’s amazing how you changed in 12 months from a needy little baby to an active, increasingly independent toddler. It’s hard to believe a year ago at this time you could barely hold your neck up and now you’re walking around,

Jaylen & Chloe - Photo by Alyssa McNally

Jaylen & Chloe – Photo by Alyssa McNally

understanding what we tell you, and playing with cars. I love watching you explore and discover the world for the first time–like when you first felt sand on the beach in Door County. You just couldn’t get enough of it! Or when you realized Chloe is another living thing that you can play with and who loves to eat your food. I love your baby giggles,

your adorable smile, and your social personality (much like your daddy here), and your awesome bouncing dance moves. Most of all, I love how your eyes light up when you see me and how you give me the biggest bear hugs. You don’t really do that for anyone else right now.

I know there will be days in the future when we’ll get on each others’ nerves. You may even tell me you hate me and it’ll break my heart. Even in those moments, I hope you’ll remember that I still love you. And those big bear hugs? I hope you’ll still hug me like that when you’re a teenager–or at least once you go off to college.

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Photo by Alyssa McNally

 

Happy Birthday, dear Jaylen! May you always remember that Daddy and I love you because you’re our son. No other explanation is needed.

Love,

Mommy

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My Little Monkey – Halloween 2014

We had quite the exciting Halloween here. For starters, we woke up with a light dusting of SNOW on the ground. It’s too early for snow in my mind. Anyway, this was Jaylen’s first Halloween and I was excited to dress him up even though he had no idea what was going on. I found a monkey costume for $5 at a consignment sale back in August, which was adorable on him. It was a little small on him because it was a 3-6 month size (he’s 10 months old), but it worked because he’s not very big for his age (takes after his mommy). The arms and legs were just a little too short. I also loved that the costume had a belly!

Baby Monkey Costume

 

Chunky Monkey

Chunky Monkey

Since we didn’t plan on taking Jaylen trick-or-treating (he can’t eat candy–it’d be more for us–and it was too cold), I needed a place for him to show off his costume. So I brought him to Gerald’s school for part of his class’s Halloween party and the school’s Halloween parade. The students loved meeting Jaylen and several of them came over to play with him. Jaylen seemed to be enjoying them too.

By the time of the parade, it was snowing/mini-hailing outside so they had the parade in the gym instead. Jaylen and I sat to watch (though he was getting more squirmy at this point). A few times he was waving at some of the kids. We enjoyed seeing Daddy and his class as they went by too.

Photo by John Middleton Staff

Photo by John Middleton Staff

I didn’t dress up, but Gerald and the 5th grade team were the seven dwarfs from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He’s Sleepy. I also have to show Chloe’s costume. I got her this race horse costume on sale from Target.

Race horse pug

That one’s fitting for me since I used to ride. 🙂 I took her for a little walk as trick-or-treating started (and there was practically no one out there) but a few people saw her costume and they seemed to get a kick out of it. I think she’ll just wear this every year. Maybe next year we’ll actually go trick-or-treating with Jaylen and Chloe. We actually didn’t get too many trick-or-treaters this year, but our neighborhood is kind of tucked away by itself so I guess not many people would drive down to trick-or-treat there. Oh well…more candy for us!

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Advice I Would’ve Given Myself Before the Baby was Born

I’m nearly ten months into this motherhood journey. I know I still have lots to learn and I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in parenting an infant by any means (though how can you really be a parenting expert? All kids are different!). However, I have several friends who are expecting their first baby this year and as I think back to where I was a year ago (7 months pregnant), I keep thinking of advice or things I would’ve told myself back then as I was just enjoying the excitement and anticipation of being pregnant and preparing for birth. People always give unsolicited advice to new parents (and particularly new moms), so whoever may read this can take what they want from it, but more than just advice, I think it’s just an honest reminder of the reality of motherhood (and parenting in general).

So what would I have told my pregnant self?

1. Babies have their own schedules, so go with the flow.
I felt this reality more as I waited anxiously for my due date to approach. Starting from 3 weeks before, I was constantly wondering when I would go into labor. I was born three weeks early so I didn’t know if Baby J would follow my lead or if he’d be “late.” Babies will come when they’re ready and there’s no sense in trying to rush it or in putting your life on hold in expectation. It’s better for baby to stay inside longer (at least 39 weeks) since baby grows best inside his mother. I learned the most predictable thing about labor is it’s unpredictable.

Once the baby’s born, the baby’s schedule seems to dictate your day (particularly if you’re a new mom and only have one child to worry about). He eats, sleeps, eats, sleeps, eats, sleeps…all day long. It’s best to just accept it for what it is and do what your baby needs. As Jaylen has gotten older, he does have a more predictable schedule, but even then there’s variation. Sometimes he’ll take long naps, sometimes he won’t. Sometimes his nap schedule will get messed up or he’ll end up having a later bedtime, but it’s okay. {To further prove this point, I should mention that I started this blog post just before Jaylen turned 6 months old. I’m now publishing it when he’s almost 10 months. PRIORITIES.}

2. Babies don’t go by the book.
I was so excited for Jaylen to turn 6 months old so I could start giving him solid food. Part of me hoped this would help him sleep longer at night (which it does not necessarily help with that) and part of me just couldn’t wait to see him try new things and be a little less dependent on me for food. I was looking into the baby-led weaning process for introducing solids and was anxious to offer Jaylen regular food so he could feed himself and eat with us at meal times.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try baby-led weaning much because Jaylen wasn’t that interested in solid food at 6 months! I would put food in front of him and he wouldn’t even try to pick it up. Then I put a toy in front of him and it instantly goes into his mouth (go figure). So I ended up giving him baby cereal and purees (but not chunky ones because those would make him gag and throw up). Now he’s great about feeding himself and loves food, but he still doesn’t have any teeth yet so we’re still waiting on those.

I’ve also learned that just because a website or a book says your baby should do something by a certain age (like sleep 4-5 hour stretches by the time he’s 5 months…Jaylen would do 1.5-2 hours instead), doesn’t mean your child will do it. Once you accept that each child is unique and will reach those milestones in his own time, your life will be so much easier. This leads into point #3.

3. Babies aren’t meant to sleep through the night.
I know parents can have very strong opinions on this one, but after reading various articles about this topic (mostly because I still haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep in nearly 10 months), I believe that babies are not meant to sleep through the night. They’re supposed to wake up every couple hours to eat (especially when they’re newborns). They may still even wake up once or twice even after 6 months. Yes, there are some lucky parents whose babies start to sleep through the night (however you want to define it–some say 5-6 hrs straight, others say 11-12 hrs straight) at an early age. My baby is not one of those. On average he still wakes up about 2-3 times a night (although last night he woke up once…yay!). I’m still waiting for that day when he’ll sleep 11-12 hours straight at night. People have told us to let him cry it out, but we are not completely comfortable with that. This doesn’t mean that we don’t let him cry at all, but we just don’t let him cry hysterically for long periods of time. I am also not completely willing to night wean him because he doesn’t drink much milk during the day even when I nurse him so I think he may be reverse cycling. I’m concerned too about my milk supply, which seems to be dwindling (since I don’t pump as much when I’m at work anymore) and the stash I once had in the freezer is now gone as of today. As tired as I am, I do cherish those night feedings (sometimes) when I look at my son in my arms. I love that bond I have with him. And when I think I can’t take this phase anymore, I reread this KellyMom article and it reminds me that I’m still doing okay by doing what I think is best for my baby and me.

4. Don’t forget to pursue your husband and your marriage.
This is probably the most important thing I would’ve told myself before having a baby. I admit I still need to do a better job of this. It’s so easy as a mom, especially a new mom, to spend all your time and energy on the baby. When Jaylen was a newborn, it seemed like all I had time for was caring for him round the clock. Even now when Jaylen goes to sleep around 7 or 7:30, it’s easy for me to feel like I’m too tired to do anything–including invest in some quality time with my husband. It’s not a good excuse and a healthy marriage is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their children. So all you moms out there, no matter how tired or overwhelmed you are, make a commitment to try and love your husband well in spite of how you feel.

There are plenty of other things I’m still learning as a new mom. With Jaylen’s one year birthday around the corner, I can tell those brand new moms that it does get easier (even if I’m still not sleeping well). So I know the stage I’m at with the sleepless nights will also get easier eventually. Then I know I’ll probably be dealing with something else, but there’s no greater joy than having Jaylen in my life. Sure, we may not stay out late anymore and right now our days may revolve around Jaylen’s nap schedule, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world. Life wouldn’t be the same without seeing this smiling face. 🙂

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Baby Boy Style

Before I found out Jaylen was going to be a boy, part of me wanted to have a little girl so I could dress her up in adorable outfits. There are a TON more clothing options out there for baby girls, but there are some pretty stylish clothes out there for all those boy moms to dress up their little guys too. I like to dress my son (now nine months old) in clothes that make him look like a little man. Of course I dress him in more babyish clothes too since people have given me their hand-me-downs or bought me clothes for my baby showers, but if we’re going out somewhere, sometimes I like to make him look a little more stylish.

Last weekend I realized Jaylen’s six month clothes were getting a little snug on him, so I was excited for him to wear one of the new outfits I bought him months ago.

StylishBabyBoy

The weather was a little more fall-like, so Jaylen wore a chambray shirt and camo fleece sweatpants from Carter’s. . The pants are still a little long on him since he’s on the shorter side, so I had to roll them up a little bit. Daddy loved this outfit when he saw it.

BabyBoyStyle2

BabyBoy

 

It started to warm up before we left for church, so I changed his camo pants to camo shorts (from Kohl’s). I’ve gotten other stylish boy clothes from consignment sales (you just really have to look through the racks to find good stuff) and H&M Kids. You can get cute clothes at fairly reasonable prices, which is great when your child is growing so quickly.

Want Jaylen’s style for your baby boy (or your toddler)? It looks like Carter’s doesn’t sell this particular chambray shirt anymore, but I’ve linked similar products below:

Chambray Shirt (similar)

Camo Fleece Pull-On Pants (Carter’s)

This is not a sponsored post. 

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Grayslake 5k Race Recap

Grayslake5k

 

On Saturday I completed my first postpartum race and my first race with my jogging stroller (the BOB Ironman). I didn’t race at all last year when I was pregnant, so I was excited to get back into it. I didn’t have to worry about setting an alarm for this race because Jaylen woke up on race morning at 6:30 a.m. The race was held in our local downtown area so Gerald and I planned on walking over (about a mile from our house). I also thought it would be a good warm up.

Pre-race

Pre-race

Saturday morning was rainy, but thankfully the rain cleared up before we headed out the door around 7:15. The rain held off until after the race, which was a blessing. We could’ve had a soaking baby otherwise!

My cousin was also running the race (and it happened to be her birthday) so we saw her briefly before the start and then she went up to the front because she’s super fast. I had to start near the back anyway because I was running with the stroller. I know they do that so strollers don’t get in the way, but it’s a lot more challenging to pass people at the beginning of the race when you’re running with a stroller. I was getting stuck behind people a little bit even though I tried to run on the side of the road to pass.

Eventually the pack thinned out. My Garmin watch wouldn’t turn on even though I charged it up (I haven’t used it in a while since for some reason it stopped uploading my runs to my computer…apparently it’s messed up now). So I used my RunKeeper app and had my phone tucked into a pocket on the stroller. So I couldn’t see what my pace or distance was. I know I started slowing down though as the race went on. I haven’t run at that intensity for that long in a while.

Jaylen was great during the whole race. I’m impressed with how content he seemed staying in the stroller for so long. He sat quietly on our walk over to the starting line from home. Then I took him out for a few minutes before the race started. He was awake for the beginning part of the race but then fell asleep about halfway through. It was his nap time, after all. If you zoomed in to the photo at the top of this post you can see Jaylen knocked out in the stroller. Haha.

It was humid and I definitely had to keep pushing myself during the race, but I was trying to save some energy for the last stretch.

Me, Jaylen & cousin Sammy

Me, Jaylen & cousin Sammy

Once I turned the final corner and saw the finish line, I really dug deep and pushed toward that finish line (literally). There was another woman I’d been following during the race who got behind me at one point but then was now catching up, so I was just trying to beat her to the finish, which I did. She told me good job afterwards, but she was probably just impressed that I did that while pushing the stroller. Jaylen woke up right after we crossed the finish line. Apparently 5ks are exhausting! 🙂

My official finish time was 28:40. That’s not close to any kind of personal record for me, but I’m pleased with it considering all my

runs lately (with and without the stroller) have been in the 10 or even 11 min/mile range. This run was my fastest stroller run to date. Not bad for running while pushing about 35 extra pounds in front of me (stroller + baby)!

My cousin Sammy won her age group (no surprise there!) and I actually placed 5th out of 18 in my age group, which isn’t too bad, actually. This little race gave me a confidence boost knowing that I can only improve from here. I plan to do more 5ks in the next few months (both with and without the stroller) through the fall and I’d still like to do the Prairie State Half Marathon in October again, but I need to ramp up my training to be ready for that.

This was the perfect way to celebrate Jaylen’s 7 month birthday. I’m glad we could finish our first race together–hopefully the first of many!

 

Mommy & baby post-race

Mommy & baby post-race

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My First Mother’s Day

My mom & me when I was 5 months old. 5.13.85 - almost exactly 29 years before Jaylen turns 5 months

My mom & me when I was 5 months old. 5.13.85 – almost exactly 29 years before Jaylen turns 5 months

Today is my first mother’s day holding my baby in my arms. Last year I was in my first trimester and hadn’t told anyone except our families that I was pregnant. It was like my little secret when they passed out Mother’s Day gifts during church service. I’ve always appreciated my mom, but now that I’m a mother myself, I have gained a greater appreciation and understanding of a mother’s love.

The other night as I held Jaylen before putting him to bed, I was overwhelmed by my love for him. I would do anything for him. I don’t want to see him get hurt–physically or emotionally–ever (though realistically I know this won’t ever happen…especially the part about not wanting a boy to get physically hurt). I hope I die before him because I never want to lose him. I would give my life for him. As much as he may frustrate me sometimes with his constant night wakings and his sometimes endless need to be held, I love my son. It’s not because of anything he did; it’s just because he’s my son. How true that statement is about God’s love for us too. He loves us not because of anything we’ve done–just because we’re his children. (I heard that through a Visionary Parenting sermon we listened to last weekend).

So I realize how much it must hurt my parents when I’m hurting. They probably cheered when I learned how to roll over just like we did for Jaylen. And they probably welled up with pride (and a little sadness) when they saw me graduate from college and when I got a job. They sacrificed their time, energy, money, and desires for me just like I’m finding I need to do for my own child.

A mother’s job is never done. I see how much my mom still shows her love for me in the ways she shows her love for her grandson.

Recreating the pic my mom took with me at 5 months. Here's Jaylen just a few days shy of 5 months old.

Recreating the pic my mom took with me at 5 months. Here’s Jaylen just a few days shy of 5 months old.

We’ve never had to buy diapers yet (and Jaylen will be 5 months old tomorrow) because my mom buys them in bulk from Sam’s Club before we run out. She provides babysitting and meals for us often. She encouraged me to stick through the tough parts of breastfeeding because she did it with my siblings and me and knows it’s worth the effort. She takes Chloe, our pug, out for us and even lets her stay at her house for days at a time. She prays for me and my family. Even though she doesn’t have to parent me anymore, my mom will always be my mother. Mom, I love you, and I’m continuing to learn from your example. Thank you for being my mom!

Now this Mother’s Day is extra special because I have my own little boy. He may not call me “mom” yet, but I love being his favorite

person (probably mostly because I’m his food source). I love seeing his eyes follow me as I walk across the room and to see his face light up with a smile when he sees me (even on FaceTime). I love snuggling with him and when he falls asleep on my shoulder. I love knowing that I’m the only one who can really soothe him when he’s super angry. I love seeing him master new skills and discover the world around him. It can be hard amid the sleepless nights, spit-up everywhere, messy house, and days where it seems like nothing really gets done, but I believe it will all be worth it. I pray that the result will be a respectful, godly young man who loves the Lord and lives to honor Him.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

I leave you with a few great quotes from Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker.

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ThatIsMine_Poster_web

And this one is a plaque I saw and I just loved it. 🙂

StrengthofmyLove

 

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