Posts Tagged motherhood

2016 in Review

We sent out Christmas cards this year, but I didn’t include a family update with them, so consider this blog post our yearly update. 😊


It seems like 2016 was a rough year for many people. Our family was no exception to this–this past year was full of changes and transitions. Let me just bullet point a few of the major ones:

  • We temporarily moved out of our house & into my parents’ home, where we are currently living (other family is currently living at our house…long story)
  • May I add that the decision to move & the actual moving all happened within about a week and a half AND I was 8 months pregnant at the time 
  • Zephaniah was born (fast & furious)
  • Gerald & I both resigned from our jobs
  • Gerald started a new job & I transitioned to my new role as a stay-at-home mom to our 2 boys
  • We’re still adjusting to life with two kids (a challenging transition)

We also dealt with some other challenging personal things that came up earlier this year, so a lot has happened and changed in our family for sure! Though we’ve had (and still have) our rough moments, God reminds us that His timing for all this is perfect and that we need to continually trust Him. 

How has God shown this?

  • Results in our favor from the personal issue that came up this summer (though it was still costly financially & emotionally)
  • Zeph was born 4 days early, which allowed Gerald to have a full week at home with us before starting his new job (perfect timing!)
  • I wanted an epidural for Zeph’s birth but never had time to get one since he came so fast so I will remind him of how he saved our family money by not having to pay for the drugs!
  • Though it’s not my ideal situation to be living at my parents’ house again, it has actually been very helpful to have some extra hands around to help me with the kids, especially when Gerald is not home or is working overtime.
  • Our living situation also allows us to help family out while also saving some money ourselves (good especially since I transitioned to not working)
  • Although I’m not working at Tyndale anymore, I am able to stay on as an on-call employee allowing me to work occasionally from home & stay connected to the business world 
  • Gerald’s job transition allows him to be more fully present when at home (he can leave work at work) 

My word for 2016 was “comfort.” I actually forgot about this, but just remembered when I saw a draft of a post I was going to write about it but never finished. Although I haven’t been thinking about my word throughout the year, now I can see that God was still using that word in the way I intended when I chose it. I picked comfort as my word for the year because I wanted to remind myself that I don’t want to stay comfortable. I don’t want to get stuck in my own comfortable little world and miss out on things God has planned for me. 

Clearly this year was about pushing me out of that comfort zone:

  • Having to move out of my house and back in with my parents = uncomfortable, humbling & made me have to let go of what I feel is “mine” (my possessions, house, etc)
  • Natural childbirth when not planning on doing it that way = DEFINITELY uncomfortable!! But so worth it & I wouldn’t have changed the way things happened
  • I agreed to be a MOPS small group leader, which pushed me out of my comfort zone because I wasn’t as comfortable leading with people I don’t know as well. So far it has been a good experience & I’m still growing and challenging myself. 
  • Becoming a mom of two has pushed me out of my comfort zone. My kids challenge my patience, make me put my desires on the backburner, and teach me more about my sinfulness (my toddler definitely sees the not so great side of mommy quite often & I feel bad about that). God’s growing me and teaching me in this area…and allowing me to gain a better understanding of His love for me. 
  • I can no longer consider myself a book publicist (for the most part). Losing that part of my identity still hasn’t completely hit me yet (I still feel like I’m on maternity leave), but it does feel strange and almost shameful when people ask if I’m working and I say no. I’m not ashamed of being a stay-at-home mom. This is what I always wanted to do for my kids, but I have to remember my worth and identity is not wrapped up in my career. My job as a mom is no less important even if it doesn’t come with a paycheck. 
  • Even more now that I’m not working, I need to work on making more mommy friends, which is intimidating, especially for an introvert. They say making mom friends is like dating…very true!
  • After going down to one income, we need to financially make sacrifices in order to save more money. So maybe for now we can’t live as comfortably as we’d like.

So my prayer for 2017 is that I would continue to step out of my comfort zone and into God’s comfort zone (a phrase I heard in college and still remember). Here’s to 2017!


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

StrengthofmyLove

 

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My New Normal

IMG_1618My little boy just turned 10 weeks old. That means I only have a couple weeks of maternity leave left. This time has gone by slowly (sometimes the days feel long when I’m at home all day and not doing much except caring for baby), but also too quickly. Jaylen had a rough morning at his 2 month doctor appointment by getting 3 shots and another vaccine to drink. It broke my heart to see him cry harder with each vaccine injection. 😦 But other than that, he had a great check-up and is perfectly healthy and growing well.

This week I took Jaylen to visit my co-workers at Tyndale and also to visit Gerald’s class and his co-workers. We got stopped in the hall at his school every few feet by more teachers who wanted to ooh and ahh over the baby. That’s what happens when you work in a female-dominated profession. People usually ask how we’re doing and how he’s sleeping. He sleeps about 3-4 hours in a row at night, sometimes less and sometimes more (though this only happened once so far). Apparently this is normal though for a breastfed baby according to the pediatrician. Somehow God made it so parents can function on very little sleep.

As for how we’re doing, I say we’re doing alright. We’re adjusting to this new normal. A new normal that includes:

  • Interrupted sleep
  • Letting dirty dishes sit in the sink and household chores that don’t get done
  • Staring at Jaylen’s adorable face all day (for me)
  • Getting up hours ahead of time when preparing to go somewhere because it takes twice as long to get ready
  • Lots of outfit changes for me and for baby because of spit up (or diaper blowouts)
  • Doing laundry almost daily because of the spit up and blowouts
  • Cars that feel a lot smaller because of all the baby gear
  • Enjoying lots of smiles and cooing from our smiley 2 month old 🙂
  • Getting peed on various times a day (the joys of baby boys)
  • Speed-eating during meals or taking turns to eat
  • More time with family (the grandparents mostly want to see the baby, not so much us ;-P)
  • Naps with my newborn
  • Looking in awe at this little person we created and being amazed at how awesome he is

A lot of these things seem negative, but they’re really not that bad. I think of it as our badge of parenthood. We wouldn’t be parents if we didn’t get spit up on or peed on. It’s definitely not easy being a new parent, but when we look at our little boy, we can’t help but be filled with love and joy. I can’t believe I’ve been given the privilege of being his mother. It’s a huge responsibility as I think about how what we do now will shape him (in positive and negative ways) in the future. I pray he comes out alright. 🙂 I also love knowing that I’m the main person he depends on for nourishment and comfort right now. I hope that never changes!

So while I sometimes wish I was still pregnant (I actually got more sleep while pregnant) or that I had some of the freedoms I had when we didn’t have Jaylen, I wouldn’t trade life with him for anything. He is so precious and a true gift from God. This newborn stage can be hard, but apparently everyone forgets that and still goes on to have more kids. I know one day I’ll look back and miss this, but for now I guess I’ll try to enjoy all those late night nursing sessions and how my baby won’t let us put him down to sleep sometimes. There will come a day when he’ll be more independent and won’t want to stay in my arms all the time. So I need to try to cherish all these mommy and son times while they last.

Such a smiley boy!

Such a smiley boy!

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Love my son!

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Jaylen’s Birth Story

IMG_1051It’s hard to believe that just over a week ago, our firstborn son, Jaylen Micah Stroud, was born. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I had December 11 in my mind as a possible birth date for some reason. My actual due date was December 14, but I was hoping the baby would come between my birthday (Dec. 8) and then. Similar to the dream I had early in pregnancy where I dreamed I was having a boy, there may have been some kind of mother’s intuition or something going on because I went into labor on December 11 and our little boy was born the morning of December 12.

I’m not going to go into great detail, but here’s a nice little timeline with my commentary of Jaylen’s birth.

December 11
10:30 pm     We arrived home from having dinner at some church friends’ home. I’d felt some contractions while we were there, but I thought they were Braxton Hicks contractions and they weren’t very regular so I didn’t think anything of them. I took Chloe outside, brought her back in, went back out to check the mail, came in & had to go to the bathroom. After I went, I had an extra gush of liquid and my first thought was, “Oh no…did my water break?” I was taking a while so Gerald came down to see if I was okay and I told him, “I think my water broke!” That’s when I think we both started getting a little nervous & anxious.

I wanted to wait a little while to make sure I was actually leaking amniotic fluid before actually calling the doctor. So I texted my mom to let her know what happened and Gerald finished up some of his sub plans while I was trying to decide if I should call or not. Finally, at about 11:00, I was convinced I needed to call because I knew once your water broke you needed to head to the hospital soon. When I talked to the on-call doctor, she told me to start heading to the hospital. So I set my out of office message for maternity leave for work and quickly finished putting together my hospital bag. I also set everything out for Chloe and told my parents they needed to come pick her up.

December 12
12:00 am     Gerald and I finally headed off to the hospital

12:30 am     We check in to labor & delivery. I’m still not really feeling any contractions. They immediately hook me up to the monitor to monitor baby’s heart rate and my contractions and then get me started on an IV. That’s when I knew I was going to be stuck in bed  so I wouldn’t be able to move around in labor like I would’ve liked. I was already 2 cm dilated, which I had been for a couple weeks. The nurse talked to the doctor and said that they would monitor my contractions until about 4 am and then if they didn’t get stronger and closer together, they would start me on Pitocin. I even had a contraction while she was talking to me but I didn’t feel anything. She asked me what my pain level was on a scale of 1 to 10 and I honestly said it was a zero. So Gerald and I tried to take advantage of those next few hours to get some rest, which honestly was hard for me to do. It wasn’t very comfortable in that bed and being hooked up to all these things.

4:30 am     The nurse came back to check on me and said they were going to start me on Pitocin because my contractions were still irregular. I really didn’t want to get on Pitocin if I didn’t have to be because I would’ve preferred if my labor could continue naturally, but oh well. They gave me the lowest dose and soon after that, I started feeling the contractions more. I felt them before they started Pitocin too, but they weren’t very painful. As I lay there and the contractions started getting a little more intense, I started thinking maybe now I should ask for an epidural because this could take a while and if it’s going to get worse than this, I think I might want the medication.

5:00 am     My nurse came back to check on me and I told her I wanted an epidural. It took a while for them to get everything ready for that and to call the anesthesiologist in. While I was waiting, my contractions started getting more intense and painful. Gerald had to leave the room while they administered the drug. Unfortunately my contractions were getting more intense at this point and I had to try to hold still. I started sweating  and felt like I was going to throw up. It didn’t help that the blood pressure monitor also started trying to read my blood pressure while all this was going on. This was the worst part of my labor. It felt like it took forever for him to get the epidural in & start the medication. Even after he finished and they had me lie back down, I could barely talk and I still felt miserable. Soon after that though, the drugs started working and I felt SO much better. This was around 5:30. Gerald came back in and said I looked so relaxed. I actually started getting sleepy and wanted to take a nap. I couldn’t feel any contractions anymore, but I could still move my legs (though they felt numb).

6:00 am     Nurse came back to check on me and told me that it seemed like I just needed the epidural to relax me because now I was dilated to 8 cm! I was shocked when she told me that because I didn’t expect it to go that quickly. She said she would tell the doctor to stay close by and that I should let her know if I felt any pressure. I felt slight pressure off and on for the next hour and finally called the nurse in again at 7 am.

7:00 am     Nurse came back to check me and she could see the baby’s head. So he was just hanging out there probably for a while! She called the doctor and then a whole slew of other nurses also came into the room and started preparing for baby’s arrival.

7:20ish     The doctor and nurse had me do some practice pushes and said I was a good pusher. That was helpful to know because I couldn’t feel anything down there to know if I was making any progress. The nurse had to watch the monitor to tell me when to push because I couldn’t feel my contractions at all. Then the doctor left for some reason and the nurse was just having me push, but baby’s heart rate started dropping drastically and the next thing I know they’re paging the doctor to get in there quickly and she said they were going to use the vacuum to get him out quickly. It was a little scary (probably more for Gerald since he could see the whole thing happening), but I just prayed in that moment that our son would be okay.

7:30ish     I started helping the doctor by pushing during the contractions in addition to her using the vacuum and we got Jaylen out in probably about 5 or 6 pushes. All I know is it happened quickly.

7:46 am     Jaylen was born weighing 6 lbs. 13 oz. and at 19 inches long.

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I didn’t get to do skin-to-skin with him right away because the nurses took him over to clean him up and probably check on him. Gerald did get to go over there though (after cutting the umbilical cord). So unfortunately I could only watch from a distance while the doctor stitched me up. I heard him crying and I could see his little legs and I kept thinking, “I can’t believe he’s really here.” I’m thankful for a fairly easy (and actually relatively pain-free for most of it) and short labor.

So we’re about a week into this parenting thing and life with a newborn is a little rough. The lack of sleep, I think, is starting to catch up with me now. Plus no one talks about how difficult the mother’s recovery after labor & delivery can be. I was dealing with pain and discomfort from that up until a couple days ago. Not to mention the challenges of breastfeeding. Everyone keeps saying it gets better and it’s worth it, but sometimes I just keep wondering when that “better” stuff will start. It’s already a little better and I keep reminding myself that this is only a season. It won’t always be like this. Thankfully Gerald has been amazing with helping out around the house–cleaning up things that have been packed up in boxes in our basement and washing dishes (which he hates)–and changing diapers or holding Jaylen while he sleeps so I can get some rest or get something done.

Despite all the challenges of being a new parent, we love our little guy. His name, “Jaylen,” means “tranquil healer.” We chose this name because we like more unique names, but also because his birth is a reminder to us of the healing power of the cross and how God can redeem brokenness. His middle name, “Micah,” means “Who is like God?” We hope that Jaylen will grow up to be a young man who strives to follow God and be more like Christ daily. Jaylen, we’re blessed to be your parents!

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It’s a…

Last Monday we had our anatomy scan. Any time I get to see or hear baby is exciting and reassuring because then I know that it’s still alive and that everything’s okay. This ultrasound was also special because it’s the first one Gerald could come to and the first one since 10 weeks pregnant. Baby looked a lot more human and less like a bean! We were also hoping to find out the gender of the baby.

The scan went pretty well except for the fact that baby was curled up and made it more challenging for us to see his/her face. It also means I need to go back for another ultrasound in a couple weeks so they can get better pictures of the heart. We tried to get baby to stretch out by having me change positions, but no such luck. The ultrasound tech kept saying, “Baby’s hiding.” So maybe baby’s taking after mommy a little bit by being shy! Everything seems to look good though.

Profile view of Baby (it wouldn't let me rotate it)

Profile view of Baby (it wouldn’t let me rotate it to landscape, but the head is at the top)

Since baby was curled up, I was getting nervous by the end of the appointment that we wouldn’t be able to find out the gender. But I asked the tech about it before we left and she said she was able to tell. She even had a picture for us so she wrote it down on a piece of paper and put that with the pic in the envelope we brought. We sealed it and had to wait until our gender reveal party to find out!

On Sunday we had a small gender reveal party just for our families and one family from church (the husband and wife used to be my youth counselors). We passed the envelope with the gender to Susan, the wife, earlier in the week and I asked her to get helium balloons in pink or blue (depending on what the paper says) and told her to put them in a big box. Originally I was going to have my sister do this, but then I thought it would be more fun for all our family members to be surprised together.

Ready to open the box!

Ready to open the box!

So we all gathered at our new house after church (so it was sort of a house warming party too) for lunch and the big reveal. It also happened to be my mother-in-law’s birthday, but she was gracious to share the day with us because scheduling was so hard to do. My brother surprised us too by coming in for the party from Minnesota! We kept the party casual by doing a potluck and stressed we didn’t want people to bring gifts. Gerald grilled made-to-order burgers for everyone and the only game/activity we did was a quiz I found online about old wives tales that supposedly indicate the baby’s gender. We also had everyone vote on a tally board for whether they thought baby was a boy or a girl. Gerald voted boy and I put my vote on girl (even though a few months ago I dreamed we were having a boy). The boy had more votes.

The Votes

The Votes

After everyone ate, we gathered together to go over the quiz answers and then finally the big reveal, which you can watch for yourself (just scroll down if you don’t want to watch the video to find out what we’re having):

(keep scrolling…)

So we’re expecting a baby boy this December! 🙂 I got a little emotional once we opened the box, not because I was sad, but knowing the gender makes this pregnancy a little more real. Baby is a “he” and not just “it” or “baby” anymore. So although I probably won’t get a little equestrian out of my baby boy, I may be able to turn him into a runner. Gerald’s looking forward to fishing, basketball, and dressing our son in H&M Kids clothes. 😛

It was special to share this moment with our families by all finding out the baby’s gender together. I’m not sure if I’ll end up doing this with any other children God might bless us with, but I definitely prefer finding out in a more special way than just at the doctor’s office. I gave Hershey’s bars to all the people who voted for a boy as a prize. I was going to color the Hershey part with markers, but the ones I had wouldn’t stay on the wrapper. Oh well.

Blue cupcakes were brought out after the reveal!

Blue cupcakes were brought out after the reveal!

So enjoy a few more pictures from our party.

We're having a boy!

We’re having a boy!

Team Blue - the winners!

Team Blue – the winners!

Team Pink - the losers

Team Pink – the losers

Even the pugs are excited

Even the pugs are excited

22 weeks

22 weeks

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