June 18, 2015

Connection

My grandmother had nine children, the last of which was born in 1948.

She mothered and raised and shh'd and rocked through decades of hard living.

Birthing eight of those children on a farm far from help, in a time with no cell phones or biscuit tins, much less microwaves.


By the time I was old enough to know her, "she" was slipping away. Wisps of the woman she once was.

We lived with her as live-in help through my high school years and I sat beside her as she rocked a baby doll and hummed.

I held her fragile and light hand as we stared out the window. I marveled at who she was and all she had seen.

She has been gone a while now but I feel connected to her in mothering.

In carrying a child, birthing and all of the mysteries and initiation that come with it.

And motherhood... The journey that it is. The words no one speaks and the secrets no one tells.

I would have loved to have really leaned into her knowledge, learned from her faith and gentleness... How ever did you do it? The further I get on my journey the more I marvel at hers.

June 16, 2015

Flash Floods and Grace

Today I nursed and held a little squishy bundle of boy until at last he slept soundly.

I cleaned and barely noticed the grey skies then the torrential rain.

Before I knew it the curbs disappeared and rain water covered our driveway and made little brown waves when cars dared to venture past.

It was shocking and unexpected.

Yesterday was going well and then... I spun out of control. Raw emotion like kindling waiting to be ignited.

Shocking and unexpected.

I'm tired. So tired and sleep deprived.

At first I tried to pass it all off and the baby slept a bit better at the beginning (they trick you those wee ones). But as time has passed I repeat questions and forget things and can't even remember half of the time what we have named the baby. (Isaac... we named him Isaac...)

I barely shower and as soon as I do I get peed on and thrown up on...

Meanwhile the older children are busy being children.

Taking off their diapers, peeing on the carpet and desperately seeking attention. Touching what they shouldn't, climbing on tables, begging me to play again and again. They're waking up at night, giggling well past dark, and bouncing up full of joy with the sun.

All the while my body is expanded, broken, covered in spit up and exhausted.

Just as the rainwater was high before I even took notice, so too my patience was too short...

I snapped at the children and made both of them cry. I scared them with my anger in my desperation for just. one. little. nap.

And I write it.

I write it here because there is a silence in motherhood that I find deafening and disheartening. When mothers will whisper a desperate "Me too!" when someone confesses how hard their day or season has become because so often we're shocked by our own raw feelings and the shame of not being perfect at motherhood.

Oh mommy friends... you are not alone.

Jacob pauses kindly and listens with concern as I confess this brokenness. I confess my awful mothering and how this season of life manages to be the most beautiful of all while also breaking me down.

I worry about the children and if they will remember any of the good amidst the hard mothering days.

And he reminds me of grace...

Grace for myself and my children.

Grace as a lesson we are teaching them.. that people will all let us down and we are in a constant state of offering grace.

Even to mommies.

Even to ourselves.

I pull my little girl to me and hug her after I've asked for forgiveness for my short temper and unkind words.

In the morning I approach the breakfast table and am greeted with a fresh start.

A simple, "Mommy!" full of joy and with no condemnation.

I am flooded with gratitude for grace...

June 12, 2015

1 Month Old Isaac

Just popping in to share a quick update on baby Isaac. He is one month (yesterday) and as sweet as ever.

His acid reflux is a force to be reckoned with and keeps us on our toes (and me up all night) which is another story.

Today I took all 3 kiddos to Toys R Us for the first time and it was just as overwhelming and depressing as I could have imagined. Too many options for too much money. 

I fed baby Isaac about an hour before we left, held him up for 30 minutes after and wore him for about 20 minutes after that while I got the girls ready.

We left and picked up some food and had a "picnic" in the minivan in the parking lot. Classy..I know.

We shopped and he woke up and began to cry but I assume he was hot. When I was loading them back in the van I heard the "roar" of him "spitting up". Milk etc. out of his nose and mouth and his little face in such pain.

He covered his new car seat, his clothes, his hair.. It just shoots EVERYWHERE. This was much more than an hour after eating and he was choking on it. It's so sad! He has been on Zantac for over 2 weeks now and here we are...

All that to say, we initiated our "new to us" van with the smell of old chicken nuggets and spit up all in one fell swoop. Gross.

He is 10 lbs 15 oz despite spitting up crazy amounts after almost every feeding.

The girls love him and coo and kiss him all of the time.

He is awake more and more and just looks around. He only fusses after he eats when his tummy hurts.

He makes very little noise other than the after meal fusses.

He sleeps in the rock-n-play right now or on his side beside me. Otherwise he will sleep on his side in his crib but I'm always nearby in case he spits up and starts to choke.

He is in size 1 diapers and his long little feet are too long for 0-3 month jammies already(!). That seems to have happened over night. Otherwise we are in 0-3 month clothes and have given all of our newborn clothes away.

It's going quickly!

We are in that stage of parenting where I know this will all pass quickly. Sweet Isaac keeps me up a lot at night because I can't just lay him down after feedings and he is in such pain after eating but even with that it is of course all worth it.

I feel like my instagram feed shows what our life is like in this season...





June 6, 2015

Who They Want Me To Be

Being pregnant is hard. It's hard on mommy, daddy and the kiddos.

Then having a new human is hard. It's hard on mommy, daddy and kiddos.

So behavior has been haywire.

Driving down the road I thought to myself how "all" I want is for them to be patient, kind, cuddly, obedient (immediately), sweet, loving, and cute.

 Is that too much to ask?!

How ridiculous that sounds!!

So I thought to myself, what do they want ME to be?


I'm sure little children just want their mommy to be:
  • fun
  • patient
  • kind
  • available
  • cuddly
  • loving
  • willing to play (immediately)

Of course I can't be those things!! 

And so of course... they can't be all of those things either...

I need them to be patient and realize that mommy isn't always available to listen to every story, cuddle, play.

In the same way I need to have grace for them as little tiny people who also aren't always "on their game" or perfect.

I needed that reminder!

June 5, 2015

A Letter To My Future Self II

Hey there!

A ways back I wrote a letter to my future self and have found joy in rereading it now (from the future) so I want to repeat this.

Some day, you will forget what this stage is like.

I want to remind you.

Isaac is almost 4 weeks old. He is sweet, sleepy and mild tempered. The little guy likes to sleep and eat a lot and is putting on weight quickly.

But acid reflux has crept in and he claws his little tiny hands, pushes away, grunts and grimaces in obvious pain after feedings. You sit and hold him for up to 30 minutes, shh him, try to burp him (with little success), try to catch the massive spit up and roll him quickly when he is choking on it.

During the day you wrap him and swaddle him and relish the last baby you will carry about.


The girls bounce from room to room giggling deviously then stopping to point out how "koot" baby brudder is (or "bay- bu" for Sophie). They stop to give him excessive kisses multiple times a day. Claire introduces herself to him over and over, "Baby brother don't cry! You're not alone! It's big sister here!" (to me) "He doesn't know who I am. He's scared. Maybe you should feed him."


Then Sophie chimes in, in alarm and says, "A-yying!!!" (crying!) more often than naught after she herself has come over and aggressively sent his swing lurching, waking him from sleep.  When she lets him remain sleeping she runs to me in alarm and yells, "Beep!!! Beep!!!" (asleep! asleep!).

Let us all pray he remains a heavy sleeper.

Amen.

I sleep with baby brother in the nursery, up at midnight and normally between 3 and 5 and we fall asleep together in the chair and I wake with an aching neck and miserable at 5 am. Around 7 am we are both fast asleep for the first time just in time for the little padding of Claire's footsteps.

She climbs into bed beside us, almost crushing my glasses and baby brother's head as she admires him and slathers him in "gentle" kisses.

Good morning!


More often than naught daddy helps when he can and gets the girls started on breakfast and a show.

After Sesame Street we play. I try to do one "school" lesson (drawing etc.) or the girls play play-doh or paint.

If the weather allows we go outside but recently the mosquitoes are threatening to carry us all away and Sophie (or Bo-fee as she calls herself) has the water blisters and huge swollen spots to prove it.

We do lunch. The girls bow their heads and clasp their little hands together and Sophie shouts "Mennn!" (amen) when it's over.

The rare occasion where  Claire volunteers to pray just about melts your hearts.. she is the sweetest when she prays like this and talks to God from her heart thanking him often for herself (!) and her sister and baby brother, and thanking God that He is the queen (the terms are interchangeable for her) and asking that the mission-marries won't be lonely or scared.

So. Sweet. 

At moments like this you have hope that perhaps your parenting doesn't entirely stink after all.

But I digress.

Napping... We've just started doing "big girl rest time". The girls go down (with little fuss now and less routine than ever before (happy dance!)), and if they aren't quiet I start taking toys away.. then time-outs.. then consequences go on from there.

At one hour I crack the door open and Claire can sneak out (sophie is a good/heavy sleeper if they can get past the "play period" aka- throwing their bodies manically down on their pillows while screaming over and over).

Claire comes out and lays on the floor playing with matching cards, or "drawing" etc. I try to finish a Bible study, even letting her watch the Bible study video with me if she wants. She feels very grown up. I feel like it's a good example. Win-win.

When both girls are up we try to make it til daddy is home.  We go and get the mail, have  a snack, listen to music, go outside.. anything to make it pass.

This is the white-knuckle, pray to Jesus, hunker down and ride out the tantrum time period oftener than naught. It just is what it is friends...

Interspersed in all of this is a plethora of time-outs, giggling girls dancing, and me saying, "Claire, come here now! Claire, look at mommy. Claire, we use KIND words"... and "Sophie don't touch that. Sophie use listening ears. We use gentle hands. For the love of all that is wonderful we DON'T SPIT and LEAVE YOUR DIAPER ON!" etc. about 50 million times in the day while I nurse, burp, shhh and carry "baby brother" around.

Daddy gets home and God bless him, takes command of the ship while you often just stare into space or sneak off to Target with the baby to wander aimlessly down aisles for things you don't need.

He mans bed time (thank the Lord!) and after you clean up the dishes you nurse (cluster feedings have begun), burp, shhh and hold baby brother.

It's hectic and sweet and easier and harder than you could have imagined.

So don't forget okay?

Much love,
The you from today

June 4, 2015

Captivating Hearts and Sanctification

Raising children shows you the hidden condition of your heart.

I was telling my friend how I've had such a short fuse these past few months (which I blamed on pregnancy).

And now with a new baby I've equally had a short fuse... snapping at the children and my husband, spanking and being generally disagreeable and unpleasant etc.

It's shameful and painful to see yourself living out of reaction rather than out of wisdom and grace.

As we talked she wisely made the point that in the book of James it talks about bridling our tongues and how difficult this task is. Thank God for friends who point us to godly living!

She than asked me the difficult question of how I had been handling my tongue.

The answer? Not well. 

I've been cursing in my heart and head and occasionally otherwise like a stay at home sailor.

"Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?"- James 3:11


Friends may not see how much my tongue is out of control because so much of it has been in my heart and head.

This made me think about where my words come from (my heart and mind) ... and that is the problem.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

What if no one hears my tongue rage? What if no one hears my thoughts as I bash someone's idea or actions? Is it still a sin?

Yes it is.

And I have to confess that I have not been taking every thought captive.

I have let the angry ones run free and the bitter ones sit and fester. 

I have let frustration run like a fox with his tail on fire through the dry brambles of my mind and heart setting every little nerve ending ablaze.

The occasional angry word or expletive a physical proof bubbling to the surface of the messy pit beneath.

What a great reminder!

What beauty and grace in accountability and new starts! 

(Can I get an amen?)

I encourage you to join me in taking every thought, lie, temptation and belief captive for the glory of God. 

Challenge those thoughts and feelings with the pure unadulterated Gospel and let's watch them grow dim as He grows bigger in our hearts and minds.

Peace out friends,
Georgia 

June 3, 2015

Newborn Sabbath

Disclaimer: I have few friends who feel like I do on this topic so I'm not knocking anyone else's view.. This is just how I, an admittedly flawed and oh so often wrong person,  see it.

A few weeks back I shared this on my instagram feed.
And there is something so true about it for me...

With every baby I keep my newborn away from crowded situations and too much "out and about" by keeping them more or less home bound for six weeks.

This is outdated and especially uncool in the free-range, "crunchy" parenting era we are in where baby-wearing, oil diffusing, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, no vaccine and homeschooling is the rage (and seems even the norm) and where the strength of your breastmilk is thought to save your baby from every germ.

But since it's my last baby I'm noting how I've played my hand at this.

I figure all over the world and for centuries past women keep their babies at home for a specified amount of time. So I figure, there must really be something to it.

Logically speaking if an infant gets a fever they have to do a spinal tap so that's big motivation as well.

Here's why I find it fascinating...  I admittedly don't read myself well AT ALL (it's a huge fault). So I'm a little mystified by my own response.

I'm an extrovert through and through but there is something glorious, beautiful, quiet and even sacred to me about this time period.

I love people, socializing, hosting and just getting out. I really do.

But when the baby comes... I love nothing more at all than the silence.

I love nothing more than the cessation of busy schedule.

Than the "free pass" of staying home to sit and quietly rock a baby.

Nothing more.  Seriously.

I consider it a type of Sabbath in and of itself.

With our first baby I really battled feeling trapped, hemmed in and like I was wasting my time.

But more and more I think it's beautiful. I don't have big kids in school, I don't work, I can just sit.. and rock, and "shhhh", and pat, and burp, and nurse...

It all passes quickly.

In these silent moments I get to reflect, dream, hope and pray.

And that's a beautiful thing in this "newborn Sabbath".

May 28, 2015

Parenting Advice for When Your World is Out of Control

I recently heard a quote about a man with 12 theories on parenting and no kids who then has 12 kids and no theories.

I find that to be true.

The people I know who have the most (and most well behaved) kids tend to give the least advice. They seem to understand that every child is different and unique as are circumstances and that just perhaps, if you're doing it well enough people will ask what your secret is.

So as my belly grew and grew so did my children's flare for disobedience...
When we brought home our precious little bundle even our visiting family was shocked by the display of disobedience by our lovely offspring.

So I wrote two friends with many kids who have been down this road.

Both of them gave the same advice that I wanted to share here.. Not because it's my wisdom but because frankly, I'd like to remember this for down the road.

They both said...

1.) it's normal.  All kids go through some form of this whether it's reversion in eating, sleeping, potty training or behavior.

2.) this too shall pass. It may last a few weeks or a few months but it will pass.

3.) you have to stay consistent.

4.) it's a desperate cry for attention. Ignore the bad as much as you can (because that gives them the attention they want) and praise, praise, praise the good.

I immediately tried to transition into this, especially praising the good and finding reasons to have quality time with each child and wouldn't you know it helped.

I'm far from out of the woods but it's a start.


May 27, 2015

Third Birth Story: Birth of Isaac

I tend to be overly wordy so I'm going to try to be more factual and succinct. Here we go.

My doula (who is amazing) always tells me each birth is unique.

It's not that I didn't believe her per se, but I felt like my births followed a certain pattern. And maybe they naturally do... but not this time!

This time my doula was proven right.

Both girls were born at 41 weeks 1 day (the second part of that story). 8 lbs 6 oz and 8lbs 2 oz. The first birth was 33 hours with 3 hours of pushing and a 2 hour transition and she "paved the way" as the doctor and nurses said.  They were right.

Number two was well under 20 hours, a 5 minute transition and a few minutes of pushing after barely making it to the hospital.
At Maharaja for some spicy Indian food before baby brother came.

But really the feelings were all the same in both. Cramping, "pinching",  nausea, diarreah, fear, wanting to vomit, shakes etc. at the end and my water breaking right before birth.

Enter in baby boy.

At my 20 week ultrasound they said he was measuring big. At my follow up he was still measuring large... as in 8lbs at 35 weeks. I know that ultrasounds can be off and I won't get into too many details (succinct... remember?) but I had a lot of personal baggage and fear about a big sized baby. My dad was a 13 pound baby and my brother was almost 11 pounds at 38 weeks. Either way I had set myself up to be bound up in fear about it all.

I tried to use hypnobabies and not let fear rule me but something was different in my heart about this one.

I prayed and prayed about it and decided I didn't want to 'be a hero' with permanent damage to me or him of any kind.

So at 38 weeks we did another ultrasound and they guessed he was 8lbs and 13oz. already.

Long story short (too late!) we induced!!!

Oh I tried to eat dates, and pineapple, and walk and jump and clean baseboards and other than some minimal pinching nothing happened.

So on Sunday May 10 at 39 weeks I went in full of jitters but also at peace that I didn't want to wait until 41 weeks and 1 day to birth an 11 pound or more baby.. I just didn't want what could potentially follow that.

At 8:30 pm after a super spicy meal of Indian food Jacob and the girls dropped me off and I climbed the stairs 4 stories to be admitted (see.. I really was hoping to go into labor on my own!).

At the hospital before the adventure begins. The family Swag Wagon is in the background.
They admitted me and we started cytotec by pill. Jacob joined me after the girls were in bed and my mother had arrived and we both slept mostly while I worked through contractions listening to Hypnobabies.

I had entered the hospital with a Bishop Score of 9, 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced.  Contractions came but weren't consistent.

At 7:30 am  Monday May 11 my doula arrived just as my OB did. I had my birth plan etc. but my OB convinced me to break my water. I was a hard sale and was shocked at how much water I had this time. Contractions picked up and I labored on my own, quietly, listening to hypnobabies with occasional walking breaks (no IV). I had bloody show and the start of a mucous plug but still irregular contractions.

I was still so hopeful that things would take off on their own and I could finish naturally...

At noon my OB came back and we had agreed if I wasn't progressing quickly  through transition I would opt for a "whiff" of pitocin.

I had been dreading this and hoping for otherwise but knew I had admitted myself and put myself on the hospital's timetable so this was a unique experience.

I was at 5cm and he had dropped a bit.

Then pitocin... I rode those labor waves for 4 hours before I lost my "focus" and began to panic a bit. The pain was intense. When I had felt this way in the past I was about to deliver but I was told I was at 9cm and 90 % and he still wasn't dropped enough.

Something inside of me gave way and in one quick move I, all natural girl, demanded for the epidural.

I can't explain why except that I had this huge fear of him tearing. There are other reasons and friends stories that are theirs to tell that impacted me greatly. Babies who haven't made it or had damage and knowing my family history of big babies something inside of me just said, "No way.. no more."

It took an hour from then to get the epidural.

In the meantime I had lost my cool and was screaming not nice things and pushing out of control trying to get him out. All while shaking on the edge of the bed and intermittently shouting why the epidural wouldn't come.

My contractions were different.. They still weren't "natural" or close together. I would have 3 on top of one another then an 8 minute break.  They couldn't stop me from pushing and I knew I would likely damage myself in the process.

My hospital room went from the "natural birth" with the one nurse, my doula and my  husband and my OB occasionally popping in to a "managed birth". I of course prefer natural but I'm not saying one is better than the other. Just different.

The room flooded with people. I was in the "natural birth" room with ambiance lighting and the anesthegiologist was having trouble seeing and kept yelling with a strong accent for a flashlight. I would then yell at him and then my doula and husband would strongly speak to me trying to bring me back to focus.

For almost an hour they tried to hold me still while I lay curled on the edge of the bed screaming and pushing at 9cm.

At last the combination spinal and epidural kicked in (apparently so late in the game epidurals don't work so they did both).

And...

I didn't regret it one second...

Not at all...

At first only my right side was numb so they rolled me and I lost all control of the circumstances.

I was told when and if I was contracting. I was told when/if I could push and how. I had my legs held and moved for me. It was bizarre... But I didn't regret it.

I still labored for 2 hours where they cranked the pitocin up to move things along. And then I pushed for 39 minutes.

Without the epidural I just don't know if I could have managed or how I would have. Mentally I had lost my game because of the potential for an exceptionally large baby.

It didn't help that the nurses and my doctor kept talking about how big he was.

I still felt that primal fear grip me that my baby may not make it and would he ever come out.

The nurse kept telling me they could see his little head wriggling around trying to find his way..

Then they told me he had a lot of hair.

And before I knew it I was catching a breath between pushes when it seemed like everyone together said, "Georgia! Look! He's here!"
Token unflattering birth picture of mommy.

6:59 pm on May 11, 2015.

And sure enough he was. Blue. Beautiful with a head full of black hair. Arms out in shock and then laying on my chest. One long little arm stretched out in a mixture of hug and hanging on for dear life.

For the first time when one of my children was born I laughed.

I cried from joy.

I was so happy he was on this side.  I was so happy to not be pregnant anymore. We had crossed over. Our journey was complete. So many fears laid aside.

He latched almost immediately while we stared at him and he us.

At last one of the nurses said they would leave us for an hour but if we wanted we could weigh him now to see. I said "yes!!".

Almost everyone in the room started making guesses of his weight and when they said 8 lbs 9 oz Jacob, myself, the doula and the OB all cheered! "Haha!" NOT 10 lbs!

There were so many things that were different about this birth. How the pitocin and IV effected me differently among many others.

 But in the end.. I just didn't care.

I wanted to be done.

I wanted him safe.

I wanted to be safe.

It was. He was and I was.

Once we got down to our room we cuddled and stared and whispered.

I think I said, "Thank you Jesus he's here." maybe a dozen times.

I think I said, "I'm so glad you're outside of me now!" maybe a dozen times.

It wasn't until well into the next day that we settled on his name... "Isaac".

May 24, 2015

Baby Isaac

On May 11 our sweet baby Isaac came into the world at 6:59 pm weighing 8 lbs 9 oz.

I was so happy to not be pregnant anymore and laughed with joy when I finally saw him. Only days before Claire guessed he would have "short black hairs" and she was right.

He is absolutely precious and beautiful and we are in love.

In less than 24 hours he will be 2 weeks old and I am ready to share the story of how he came to be with us.

Until then.. I leave you with this.


We are completely in love and overjoyed.

Peace my friends,
Georgia
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