Squawking + Discipline 101

I am putting aside my incomplete [Real Food Friday] post to ask for some help or insight…so much for consistency.

Confession:  I haven’t read a lot of parenting books.  I read books about babies and plenty of books about Real Food.  I was around babies a lot growing up and nannied so much that I’m comfortable with many stages of childhood and reinforcing other parents’ discipline decisions.  But I’m increasingly aware that this stage of my kid’s childhood intimidates me.   As H’s parents, we are in charge of the initial response to unwanted behavior and discipline in general.   And there are so many theories and books out there…where does one begin?  A few books have been recommended but life has been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to read them yet.  But the time has come.

H is 14 months old and generally a very happy child.  As long as you let him sleep and keep him fed, he’s a total lover.  But he has mastered this SQUAWK.  At first it was cute (“Awww…you’re experimenting with sound”!) but, after a few days, we began twitching every time it happened.  We tried ignoring it, we tried shaking our heads with serious faces (he just laughs at our alleged serious faces…oh dear).    But the squawk has reinforced that we have no idea what we’re doing.  Not that any parent does, not that any lone theory applies to every child, but we need help.  Yes, the squawking is likely a stage and he’ll grow out of it if we don’t feed it (right?) but it highlights that we need to start deciding how we’re going to approach discipline.   It’s a personal choice for every couple and we will ultimately decide where we fall in the chart of options.  I guess we’re looking for a few good starting places.

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Too soon? Too soon.

Any tips or reading recommendations?  Insights? Any specific to squawking are welcome with open arms!

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[Mommyhood Monday] The Story of Harry, Part III

In The Story of Harry Part I and Part II, we shared the back story on our fertility story.  Basically, I heard I may not be able to have kids, told Matt when we started dating, he was really awesome, we got married, eventually started trying to get pregnant and found it not coming so easily. We moved back to Texas from Vancouver, slowed life down a bit and pondered our options.

In Part II, I mentioned that fertility treatments were not an option for us.  To expand upon that a bit: as a couple, we were lucky that this was a required pre-marital topic of conversation.  Since my fertility was questionable, we talked about what would happen if we couldn’t get pregnant.  As I mentioned in Part I, in the 10+ years I had been given to consider my fertility I came to the conclusion that if I couldn’t get pregnant, then I was 100% called to adopt.  Did I want a sweet, soft baby with baby smells and baby sounds?  Of course I did.  But could I pay thousands and thousands of dollars for a baby that may not happen when there are children out there in need of love and a home?  I personally could not.  And neither could Matt.  And that was nice, to be on the same page.

Now this is a highly personal choice for every person and couple.  If I had not had years to ponder the possibilities, I know how quickly I would have continued to explore every other option.  In this day and age, we women are made to believe that we can do everything and we can do it whenever we want.  At a young age we are pointed to birth control in an effort to “control” our bodies and their natural functions (for our personal convenience or to mask the symptoms of other health irregularities).  Then, we go off of this medicine and expect quick results when we want it to do what we’ve told it not to do for a while.   And THEN we’re pointed to take more drugs and pay more money to get it to do that.  For every single person that’s experienced it, in any fashion, it’s sincerely tragic when it doesn’t happen.  For some, it calls you to question your womanhood and what you have to offer your spouse.  This was something I had always battled.   This is why Matt’s comment in Part I was so epic, “this world will not be deprived of a beautiful mom…perhaps only of beautiful babies.”  Throughout this time he reminded me of this, constantly.  So while we consider fertility to be a blessing…we also had to consider infertility to be a blessing.  All roads still led to a family and plenty of babies out there want one, too.  That was our personal choice.

So as we found ourselves home in Austin, we laid low and began to look toward adoption.  Because I turned down a job offer upon arrival in an effort to rest for a bit, my schedule was far less demanding than when we lived in Vancouver.  Now I was taking care of my nephews (my sister liked to refer to me as her “lady in waiting” in those days) and we were staying in, sleeping more, doing less.   Matt quit drinking caffeine and alcohol and boosted his Vitamin C, taking some of Dr. Shannon’s advice as a last-ditch effort, but I moved on from the daily tasks of charting and monitoring.

I was also fighting the urge to become bitter.  Accepting that God’s in charge doesn’t automatically prepare you for the emotions of His plan.   Embracing the idea of adoption was incredibly easy, but releasing myself from the idea of being pregnant certainly was not.  There were only three instances where I allowed myself to be vulnerable with close friends…to tell them how hard of a time I was having with our fertility test results.  Every single one of them found out they were pregnant within a matter of days.  For each of them I was thrilled and so truly happy.  That part came easy.  But facing a very likely reality that we would never get to experience this gift of biological parenthood, that was heartbreaking.  I didn’t let myself cry over it until I heard a pregnant couple complain about the inconveniences of morning sickness and food cravings.  That was too much for me.  I could be genuinely happy for you, but I was not in a place to sympathize with your pregnancy symptoms.  I excused myself and cried in the restaurant bathroom for 15 minutes.  That was my emotional low.

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Can I just say that the Infertility scene in the “Up” life sequence made me “ugly cry”?  Still does. 

Then in early April (four months since we’d moved back), I suddenly grew very lazy.  I had super low energy and felt a little queasy.  I wrote it off but then tried to count back to my most recent cycle and couldn’t.  I was going to dismiss it for a few days more but then remembered that my dear Diana mentioned me wearing an A-line bridesmaid dress for her August wedding.  Since she was going to pull the trigger on that pretty soon, I went to the grocery store for my sister and picked up a test (without telling her).  I went back to her house and took it.

Positive.

Back in Vancouver, a sweet nurse friend gave me about a couple dozen pregnancy tests when she found out we were “trying”.  I had gone through them during our efforts and taking them became a very sad experience.  I would wait until I was 5, 6, up to 10 days late…all negative.  This “positive” was hard-earned*.

I walked out of the bathroom, stunned, and showed my sister.  She had me turn around and take the other test in the box.  Another positive.  I panicked…”I’m on sabbatical…who will hire a pregnant woman…we’re not prepared for this!”  My sister reminded me of the logic that had carried Matt and me through so much, “everything happens according to a plan and you’re not in charge.”  Clearly.

I texted Matt, “Call me ASAP.”  He called me, out of breath, “Are you…?”  Apparently, unlike me,  Matt had not stopped counting the days.  He had been suspicious before I even thought it an option but didn’t bring it up for fear of dashed hopes. Such a faithful man.

We were pregnant.  We were going to have a baby.  There were many challenges to face and come through, but the seemingly impossible had become possible.  Through no rhyme or reason but solely through the grace of God (though we do strongly believe He did some work through Dr. Shannon).

I will always remember my very first doctor’s visit, specifically when my doctor did the dating sonogram and I saw our baby for the very first time.  I cried and mentioned to her how ever since my diagnosis at 17, I had prepared myself for this to never happen.  She responded with, “It’s maddening what some doctors put young girls through…you didn’t need to go through that for so long.  There’s so much we don’t know.”  I’m pretty sure she thought I was crazy when I told her that I was thankful for it.

And I am.  How else would Matt and I have tackled such critical conversations early on?  My questionable fertility led us to better habits, an incredibly healthier diet, and, most importantly, a surrender to the Lord’s plan for us.  The word “control” finds ways to sneak itself into the lives of the most faithful and we were certainly no exception.  Even in our boasts of obedience to His will and our acceptance of His plan, we were still blindsided.   How sweet is that! (And how foolish is boasting?)  Now our hearts have been opened to adoption and the calling still remains.   This is not to be written off, it is not to be tossed aside or forgotten.  But we got to start our family with Harry.

Look at me, making progress in Harry’s story!  The next one is the last of this series and it’s the motherload…his Birth Story.  (Only 14 months later!)

Peace and Blessings to you as you start the week…make it a meaningful one!

*I am highly sensitive to the fact that our “hard-earned” positive is still laughable compared to the thousands and thousands of couples who go through longer periods of fertility woes, miscarriages, and those who never receive the positive test result.  I very much believe that the journey for each couple is different, not to be weighed against each other or competed against.  We received a beautiful gift and however any future gifts should present themselves (biologically or by other means), our lessons learned were to never assume where God’s plan is taking us and, no matter where it leads, to never stop counting our blessings.

[Mommyhood Monday] The Story of Harry, Part II

It’s not Monday, it’s Tuesday.  Busted. Grace please?

In Part I of Harry’s Story, I left off at the part where I met Matt and was quickly swooned by his acceptance of fertility question marks and his willingness to journey through God’s plan with me.

Matt and I met Christmas 2006, began dating in 2007 and grew serious later that year.  We were engaged in March of 2008 and married in February of 2009.  It was shortly after our engagement that I began taking my temperature every morning and following the charting procedures for Natural Family Planning (NFP).  Now some people assume that our decision to use NFP* was based on me being Catholic and that we entertained no other option.  Others assume we wanted babies from the start.  But the truth is that we weighed several other options and did not want to get pregnant right away.  NFP was simply the only choice we could personally move forward with clear eyes and full hearts (can’t lose, right?).

*If you want to know more about our decision to use NFP, I am happy to share.

The factors that led to our decision to delay pregnancy were the same of most newlywed couples.  After a long-distance engagement, we wanted a bit of time together.  Matt was in the thick of grad school and we were living in Vancouver, Canada for at least a couple of years.

Now I could get into the next part with great detail but I’ll keep it a little close to the cuff.  Basically, we had a very early pregnancy “scare” (that word is important) that had us all in a fuss.  “We’re not ready!  We have a timeline!  How could God do this!?”

It was that last part that stopped us in our tracks.   I mean, did you guys read Part I of this story where I had to tell Matt that I might not be able to have babies?  How far we had strayed!  Me, with my incredible perspective and questionable fertility, had allowed myself to get so wrapped up in a timeline that, for even a quick moment, I “feared” pregnancy.

We weren’t pregnant.  And though our planned timeline was safe our hearts were softened to the idea.  We continued to postpone pregnancy for the next few months.   Then I was offered a job…my dream job involving international travel and event planning and career growth to the max.  They requested that we stay in Vancouver for at least 3 years and after plenty of conversation, we agreed to those terms.  I was THISCLOSE to signing the dotted line when I casually asked about “family growth”.  Though an employer cannot legally state a preference it was said, in no uncertain terms, that they preferred for those 3 years to be uninterrupted.

So now I was staring my PCOS in the face.  If you recall from Part I, the clock works against you with PCOS and delaying another 3 years meant that 1) the timeline was being forced by us and 2) the fertility window would keep closing.  So I rescinded my verbal agreement and told them that they would be better suited finding someone else.  They pressed for more explanation and finally I told them that I couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t get pregnant for three years.  They weren’t too happy and I’ll never forget the tone of their voice when they said, and I quote, “you are turning down a great opportunity because you want to be a mommy someday?”  Well, when you put it that way…yep.

So then, with perspective again refreshed, we began actually trying.  Six months into trying, a laughable amount of time compared to so many couples, I began to speak with a doctor about it.  He chuckled, told us to try for six more months and then we’d run tests.

In the first six months I read Dr. Marilyn Shannon’s book, “Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition.”  We received a copy in our NFP course and let me just say that if I am ever lucky enough to meet Dr. Shannon, she won’t be ready for the amount of love and giddiness I will exude. This is what got me to examine our diet and our supplements.  We cut out high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and most processed foods.  I began taking a prenatal and we kept in shape.  We felt great but still weren’t pregnant.  So we ran the tests.

Our results showed two strikes.  Not just one for my PCOS, but one for Matt as well.  Two strikes and a less than 3% chance of ever getting pregnant.  I got a second opinion and the results were confirmed.

This time our perspective didn’t fail us.  We were tired, a bit beat down, and emotionally drained but we knew that this wasn’t a battle for us to fight.  Our hearts had been preparing for this for years.  We made the decision to move back to Texas and take a break.  No more charting, no more counting days and taking temperature.  Fertility treatments were not an option.  We just wanted to surround ourselves with family and friends back home and start to save for adoption.

So we moved back to Texas.  I was in a bit of a “mourning state” so I turned down a job, took a sabbatical, and worked for my sister as a nanny to my two nephews.

I know this is a lot of back story and that is definitely why it’s not entitled, “Harry’s BIRTH Story”.  But my intention here was also to document our journey.  Perhaps it also sheds a little bit of light on why I am Mom-arazzi with our babe…I am in a constant state of wonder that this little miracle is actually ours.  That and he’s really cute and fun.

Next Monday, Part III.  If it makes you feel better, I will commit to there only being IV parts.  Call it the “Lost” treatment…the light at the end of the storytelling tunnel is near!

Peace and Blessings friends.

Summer Awkwardness

Without any warning, I took a break this summer.  Our marriage needed some TLC, my babe always deserves my attention, and we had a lot going on.  We had a long summer – filled with the completion of a thesis(!), work, the birth of our incredibly precious and beautiful niece (our very first!), and Harry’s Baptism.

Harry’s Baptism was such a sweet occasion and he is one lucky babe to have our dear friends Melissa and Matt as his Godparents.  He rocked a bonnet and kept a good face the entire time.  Let’s face it, this kid is only unhappy if we mess with his sleep schedule or we don’t give him enough food.  He’s his father’s son.

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The picture above failed to capture H in his bonnet, which means you’re totally missing out.

Truth be told, this summer was a difficult one.  Harry is the happiest babe we could have ever prayed for and he is our sunshine and delight every single day.  But I’m pretty sure that with a few different factors, I managed to slip into a low place that I’m just beginning to emerge from.  A place that had me going to bed super late and sleeping less, watching way too much TV (Confession: I finished the entire series of Felicity in a little over a week…that’s EIGHTY-FOUR episodes…not proud), and being fairly anti-social.

The emotions of becoming a mom are so fascinating to me.  The biggest effect was awkwardness.  I’ve always had awkwardness as a part of my make-up but wow, it has multiplied over the past 10 months.  I can be in a room full of people I know or a room of strangers, both of which never phased me before, and I want to just run home and work on a project or finally start The West Wing (let’s face it, I’m overdue).

I hear this is not abnormal for new moms.  I joked with my sister that I should start an “Awkward Mom Happy Hour” where we just practice being sociable again.  There would be topics we are not allowed to talk about: poop, sleep patterns, milk supply, baby food, and baby milestones being on the banned list.  But, in order for that Happy Hour idea to work, I’d have to schedule another Mommy Happy Hour that focuses on that list.  If I’ve learned anything about community these past several months, it’s that all moms need other moms to discuss these pivotal child-rearing topics.  Maybe I’m not joking anymore?

So we’re back.  This little blog post is dedicated to my lovely Kate who demanded an update.  Apparently leaving Harry’s Birth Story unfinished was just plain rude. My apologies. Part II coming on Monday!

[Top Ten Tuesday] Favorite Baby Items: 1-3 Months

Oh these months.  These months are a blur.  A beautiful, joy-filled, sleep-deprived blur.

A few weeks ago I listed out the Top Ten Baby Items for 0-1 month.  With the exception of the Swaddle Pod, all of these continued to carry me through the next few months.  The following are the items that began to stand out after we got to know Harry a bit better:

Feeding Supplies – Harry didn’t drink from a bottle until he was almost 3 months old.  We were so happy I was able to breastfeed that entire time but then realized we should introduce something else soon or he might refuse when I wasn’t around.  Since then, we have never had a problem with Harry taking the Green to Grow bottles (BPA free, what what!) and I love our Boon Lawn Drying Rack.  We hand wash all of our dishes so we didn’t need a container for the dishwasher but the Munchkin Bottle Brush is, hands down, the best bottle brush out there (trust me…between my sister and myself, we tried them all).

Bouncer – There are a million different bouncers out there and, surprise surprise, I was super picky.  I’m not really all about the themes – jungles, teddy bears, etc.  Some of those are pretty cute, but I wanted something simple and classic.  I considered the Mama Roo but had trouble with the price tag, especially since we were already getting a baby swing from my sister.  I really wanted something like the Maclaren Vida Bouncer but with better reviews.  Then I came across the Combo Pod Bouncer – a bumblebee! This animal I could handle.  And I have to say, it was fantastic.  It was around this time that Harry started coming into the office with me a few mornings a week.  Between the Bee and our beloved Moby, Harry was soothed and proved himself to be an amazingly content babe.   My iPhone or iPod plugged in to play music for him and though he never took to falling asleep in it, he loved hanging out in it – especially as a change of scenery from the magical Nap Nanny.

Moby/Ergo – I allowed myself one repeat from the 0-1 month list.  It was not easy to choose – the Nap Nanny was clearly a super close second.  But baby carriers might as well have a permanent spot on my Top Ten Items lists for the first couple years.  Harry always loved the Moby and he’s finally grown into the Ergo.  It’s at the point now where it just makes more sense for me to wear him whenever we’re in public than to use a stroller.  He can look around, he’s always happy in it…he falls asleep in it more easily than the strollers and I still love wearing him.  At this stage, wearing my nephew in the Baby Bjorn started to hurt my back but from  months 1-3 and through today, I’m super comfortable in both of my carriers, as is Matt.  The entire family wins.

Burp Cloths/Bibs – Of course these are handy from the start but since Harry never really had any acid reflex or spit up of any kind, these didn’t come in useful until he discovered his fist.  Harry has drooled through his outfits and sucked oh his fingers/fist since he was around two months old.  Since then, he’s been in a perpetual state of wet/sticky and having these around is always useful.  For some reason I didn’t buy a lot of bibs for him (I do wish I had purchased as least one with his name on it…not that he cares) but the Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs are my absolute favorite. They are shaped perfectly for over the shoulder and they snap together to make an actual bib for babe.  They’re not a flimsy fabric (great absorption) and, always a bonus, they’re super cute and classy all at once.  We do have a few of the Baby Bjorn Bibs but they’re not so comfortable on a tiny babe, though I’m happy to have them as we journey into solids.

Boppy –  Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think the Boppy is the best pillow for nursing.  If I wanted something only for nursing, I would have gotten a Brest Friend pillow.  But the Boppy worked decently for nursing, more effectively as Harry grew, and I definitely made good use of it for that purpose.  The Boppy began to shine in our house when Harry needed more tummy time (NOT a fan for the first month or so) and when he was able to hold his head up.  And, truth be told, I LOVE the Boppy as a laptop desk and as a general comfort pillow for me.  It’s like a hug around my not-so-tight midsection that I like to cuddle with. Don’t be alarmed if you see me using it when Harry is 15 and any other potential babes are way past baby-hood.

Cloth Diapers – Cloth Diapering is a topic that I love so dearly, it will soon have its own Top Ten list AND Mommyhood Monday post.  We began to switch over from disposables in the 2nd and 3rd months.  I was pretty nervous about it but wow, I absolutely love it.  To be fair I need to include disposables because we definitely mixed it up, especially in the 3rd month.  Now we are 86% cloth – an exact number given that Harry only wears disposables when he is at my mom’s house on Mondays.   I could go on and on (thus the future posts) but know that 1) this ain’t your mama’s cloth diapers.  No pins required.  2) We have yet to have a blowout in a cloth diaper – only in disposables.   They have held things in that no disposable could contain.  3) They’re incredibly cute.  Proof pic:

…and that’s not even the ones he has with robots on them!  We started out with BumGenius 4.0 (almost all with snaps) and now we’ve got some Charlie Banana, FuzziBunz, Bonnibuns and Oh Katy.

Coconut Oil – Another item that deserves its’ own post.  Coconut Oil is AMAZING!  Did you ever see the videos of Tyra Banks rolling around on the floor, talking about how much she loves Vaseline?  That’s how I feel about Coconut Oil. But without the Mineral Oil (because it took me 29 years to realize that was in petroleum jelly) and without the crazy (no offense) Tyra vibe.  Cradle Cap?  Coconut Oil.  Diaper Rash…even with cloth diapers?  Coconut Oil!  I love the smell of Mustela lotions but with Matt having eczema, we decided to treat Harry’s skin early on as though he would face similar dermatological issues.  We use some Aveeno products but Coconut Oil is a great moisturizer and smells like a Pina Colada (!).  More importantly, I love that it’s the all natural route.  And it has dozens of uses in our home, for all of us.   I order ours off of Vitacost – they have sales and free shipping all the time and you can’t beat the price per ounce.

Toys – As Harry moved into the more alert stage, he began to develop QUICKLY.  In the beginning he didn’t have a preference…if he could grasp it, he loved it.  But the ones he quickly took to and still hasn’t tired of are the Lamaze toys – specifically Mortimer the Moose, Olivia the Owl, and Jacques the Peacock.  I love them, too.  (I STILL want to order Rusty the Robot for Harry but Matt asked me to exercise some self-control.)  Harry also obsessed over his Skip Hop Treetop Friends Soft Book  for a while and, of course, Sophie the Giraffe.  One item that quickly rose the ranks was the Sassy Rattlin Ring, along with the Bright Starts Rattle.  Now – in the mindset of Monica the minimalist and book lover – I’ve realized that I’m the parent who would rather buy books than toys.  Especially toys that make noise and require batteries.  There are some exceptions – and at this stage that was the Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes.  It wasn’t too loud, it had a variety of classical song lullabies and was super simple for Harry to operate.  He still loves it because the noise and lights are out of the ordinary from his other toys.  And I love it because I never had to put duct tape over the speakers or take out the batteries to maintain my sanity.

Zero Expectations – There is no Amazon link in this item.  Truth be told – I had no idea what to expect when it came to our baby.  I had no idea if he would be a sleeper or colicky or would have acid reflux or what kind of temperament he would enter the world with.  I was raised around babies and have babysat/nannied since I was 12 years old.  I am no baby expert, but I was comfortable enough with babes to know that they’re all different.  And as you may have read yesterday, I had long ago come to terms with the fact that we may never have a newborn baby of our own.  So when we found out we were pregnant, we were ready for anything.  Maybe it was just our perspective but we knew that babies don’t sleep through the night.  From nannying, I knew that sleeping through the night (pediatrician’s cruel definition of 6 hours) doesn’t typically come until the 6 month mark for an exclusively breastfed babe.  Anything earlier than that was to be celebrated (and we did!).  But we took it all in stride – we cherished every single exhausting moment.  We don’t know for certain that we’ll be able to do this newborn gig again (fertility wise) so from natural labor to nights broken up by feedings every 2 hours, our only expectation was to love this little being. The ability to do that, and everything else, has been such a blessing.

Community – Again with the something you can’t buy on Amazon.  I have an incredible group of mamas around me.  From family to friends to a Facebook group that all have babes born around the same time as Harry…having other women to talk with and process with and be able to gauge how “normal” something is blesses me greatly.  A book with advice can be very, very helpful but a book can’t listen to you vent or give you a knowing, much-needed hug.  Find parents who may not parent the exact way you do but still respect the choices you’re making.  Fellow parents you can share your learnings with and who can pass along their learnings/knowledge.  Parenting is hard – it’s much easier if you are able to enter it with a team who supports and loves you and your babe.

An item not on the list but that we’re so glad we introduced was his “lovey” (AKA security blanket/stuffed animal).  I had never heard of a “lovey”, at least not referred to that way, before I was in search of one for Harry.  But I knew I wanted him to have a best friend stuffed animal.  And yes, I’m that mom who wanted to choose it for him.  We ended up getting him the Jellycat Cordy Roy elephant for Christmas and after Harry had RSV, he was Christened as “Wheezy” (we’re cruel, but funny).  At Easter we made the lovey a duo by introducing the Jellycat Bon Bon Striped Bunny (still unnamed/not yet Christened).  Who knows if he will take to them but so far, he doesn’t sleep without them.

So that’s my personal Top Ten list of Favorite Baby Items for 1-3 months.  You?

[Mommyhood Monday] The Story of Harry, Part I

Harry’s story goes back about ten years.  Yep, ten long years.

When I was a little girl (I promise the story doesn’t stay here for very long), I wanted to be a teacher and a mommy.  When I graduated from high school, I was headed to UT Austin as an education major with a long-term boyfriend.  Almost there…?  Nope. (Phew.)

That summer, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Disease – chronic cysts on the ovaries.  Over time, PCOS can greatly lessen a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.  After several months of ultrasounds and painkillers, I was put on birth control in order to “preserve my fertility.”  Though I know this is a common practice for women on PCOS, I had no desire to be on The Pill.  My struggle was both health related and spiritual.  I didn’t like the idea of hormones being put into my body to manipulate it and more importantly, I struggled with how me taking birth control was me trying to manipulate God’s plan for me.  After about 6 months, I kicked it to the curb.

The next several years were spent trying to not think about it.  I wasn’t close to getting married, or sexually active, so I told myself to just trust in His plan.  I allowed myself to think through the options in the case of fertility struggles.

I processed through fertility treatments.  Since being a mommy starts with being pregnant, I wondered how necessary this was for me.  Of course I wanted it.  But why?  Because this was the only way to have a baby or because I had it set in my mind what being a mommy looked like?  I started to look around and though I knew it would be hard; I also took a look at the foster system in the US.  I looked at all the kids without a stable home or family unit.  I even looked at how many parents wait for a baby versus the number of older kids stuck in the foster care system.  It’s appalling.  Again, I TOTALLY understand why couples go through fertility treatments and why people wait for a baby to adopt, but I wondered if I was being called to be a mommy to those other kids, to the ones nobody else wanted.

I didn’t come to any conclusions on this, I just processed.  After all, I wasn’t close to getting married.

Then I met Matt.  Our story will come later but you must know, it isn’t easy to tell this to a guy you’re interested in.  How do you bring that up?  “I love your hair like that! Oh, FYI…I’ve been told I may not be able to have babies.  Which movie are we going to see tonight?”  It actually ended up being forced out.  See every once in a while I’d get weepy over all of it.  I may have been blessed with perspective, but not without hormones.  Every so often I would have the pains that were associated with a ruptured cyst, reminding me of it all.  One night, about a month into dating, I felt such pains and on came the emotions.  Matt was there and it all came tumbling out.  As I closed my eyes, waiting for an awkward, “oh well…that’s really upsetting”, I instead got this: “this world will not be deprived of a beautiful mom…perhaps only of beautiful babies.” Um…that was unexpected.  And wonderful.

So I married him.  Not right away, that comes later.  But I pushed the fertility thoughts out of my mind.  They were not yet relevant and my future Baby Daddy was on board for whatever God’s plan was for me, now us.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, I was a semester away from being a certified teacher before I switched majors.  Yep, I like to make a plan and then change things at the last moment.  You’ll see that happen again.

Part I ends with a photo of how Matt and I ultimately decided to handle fertility in our marriage.  More of that next Monday.

[Mommyhood Monday] I Throw My Hands Up in the Air Sometimes

Mommyhood is hard.

I’ve always been very comfortable with babes and I’ve been blessed to be around an abundance of mommies who all had something incredible to offer me as a role model.  I’ve also always been comfortable with a crying baby – both of these things leading me and us to be pretty patient and confident in the decisions we’ve made for Harry.  This of course comes coupled with faith, knowing that the best intentions in parenting require a healthy serving of grace, humility and a sense of humor.

But there’s so much we don’t have any say in.  There are so many things that happen in his life that we hope to prepare for but at some point, we have to raise our hands up and trust.  And that’s hard.  I’ve known a couple moms who were overly anxious – worried about every little detail in their child’s life and no matter their child’s age, they still think they know what’s best.  Based on how much effort and thought and how I scrutinize every single detail on the topic of baby food alone, that has to be…exhausting.

Yet I know I’m prone to it.  I know I’m prone to over analyze and over think it and if I don’t throw my hands up and trust sooner than later, I never will.  Yes my son is only 6 months old but it was just an hour ago that he was born, right?   As a mom we’re told to soak it all in because it will fly by.

I soak and I soak but I just can’t soak hard enough.  I can’t take enough pictures…he’s incredible at letting me but none of them portray just how precious his smile is, just how joyful his laugh is at all times.  No journal entry can capture the depth of love I have for this babe.

So I throw my hands up and trust.  I trust that life is beautiful and that if I were gone tomorrow, this babe would know that I’d do anything for him.  And I trust that it would be enough.  We are blessed with such a community and family that I trust my son would never be in need.  Maybe he wouldn’t have a real food diet and maybe someone else would give up on cloth diapering for him but…he’ll still be great.  He’d still have that million dollar smile and, God and family willing, he’ll always know how special he is to us.

So in these moments where I worry about him being fed real food exclusively and I agonize over the fact that someone else lets him watch the TV already…I pledge to throw my hands up.  I pledge to be content in the decisions I’ve made as our decisions, not anybody elses.

And yes, I’m about to go be the creepy mom who stares at her babe while he’s sleeping.  Don’t judge me…I’m just soaking.