A Letter To My One Year Old

Dearest Preston,

I just finished rocking you to sleep, kissed your baby lips and put you in your crib. Every night as I rock you I whisper to you “Do you know how much joy you bring to me?” every night you smile back at me as though somehow you do. I never could have imagined how wonderful being a mother truly is. I am so glad you came to bless our family!11200872_10152831746185658_8445851444419131524_n

I want you to have my memories from your first year so here is a quick summary. When you started to speak you really started with several words all at the same time so I don’t recall which was actually your very first. But the one you used the most was probably “More” which just means food to you. You say it when you are hungry. Just today you took Aunt Hannah by the hand pulled her to the kitchen stood in front of the fridge and kept repeating more more until she gave you something to eat. Sometimes you drive us a little crazy with this one!

Another word you love to say is Daddy. The first time you said it you were about 7 or 8 months old. Joseph walked in the door from work and you looked up said Daddy and crawled straight to him. He had the biggest smile on his face I have ever seen. You have a special relationship with your Daddy and its obvious you think he can do just about anything. You sing his name over and over when he isn’t around and you almost always greet him enthusiastically when he comes home from work. Another word was Aunt Hannah, or as you say it “A nana.” IMG_0114

The first time you said Mama I was in the bathroom you crawled to the door and started scratching at the door and calling for me. That was the quickest shower I ever took as I was so excited to get out and hold you.

After that you said door, love you, thanks, Chloe, Esther, and Yeah. You say yeah all the time and you know what it means and use it accordingly. You also have said no a few times.

You love to laugh and will often laugh for no reason, you hold your hand over your mouth and bring your shoulders up and giggle, you love people and anyone who will give you attention and play with you. You love being outside and beg for me to take you out every day. You stand on your toes by the door and reach for the handle and plead with me until I have no choice but to take you. Your feet are always crossed. I don’t know why but ever since you were a baby your feet are always crossed, when you are sitting or laying down. It’s really cute. You have the most beautiful silver eyes and loads of soft curly hair. You have 4 teeth now and you like to use them to bite me. I haven’t been able to convince you that it’s not a good idea and that it hurts. You also like to pull my hair, although when you do I pull yours back a little to show you that it doesn’t feel good. You expression is always priceless! 11208649_10152831746290658_1848389675077023274_n

You are very sensitive to people’s moods and you try to make everyone around you smile and be happy. When you see someone sad you will go to them and try your best to make them smile by being silly or goofy. Everyone loves you and you are the light of my life. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel utterly overwhelmed with my love for you. YOu know your little sister is coming and you are clinging to me a little more than usual because of it, or maybe its me clinging to you, who really knows. But this time in your life has been so special to me. This time that you have spent together just you and I has been sweeter than words can express. 11168562_10152831745960658_6707997776141320493_n

I am so excited to see how another baby will change our lives and our relationship, because I know that she will. It may be hard to adjust to having another baby to care for, and it may be hard on you to grow up just a little faster as I do take care of her but one thing that you have taught me about babies is that the joy far out weighs the challenges. So, my sweet boy, as we head out on this new adventure know that your mommy has loved every moment of this year with you and is so looking forward to many more to come! I love you my Preston!

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The New Me!

When my husband was serving his mission in South Africa, Dr. Hartman from the Color Code came and gave each of the missionaries the color code test. He then talked to them about the colors that they were and how they had developed either strengths from those colors or weaknesses.

One day as we were discussing this together and talking about our various colors and how we exhibit them in our lives,  I realized that he saw me quite differently than I saw myself. It made me wonder if he actually knew me!

As we talked we both had a bit of an aha moment. Even though my husband had in the last year, married, moved away from his home country of Uganda and come to the US. become a father, started a new job and began attending University here I had actually under gone more changes in terms of identity and life style than he had.

He still was doing all those things that he loved and that made him who he was. He was learning, he was interacting with others on a daily basis, he was working to provide in a career that he loved and was passionate about and he was leading out in our family.

On the other hand, I had gone from having a fulfilling career to being a stay at home mom. I used to put on my heels and get ready for the day and go to the office where I was interacting with others, making decisions that affected a multi million dollar company, facilitating meetings, and managing a team etc. I made and spent my own money, I had time for friends, hobbies and relaxation. I played the piano, was writing a book, and directing musical programs. I was traveling the world, trying new things and having adventures.

Now I stay home. My husband takes the car and is gone all day and I stay home with our adorable baby. I rarely talk to anyone throughout the day. I often don’t even bother to get dressed properly because on a cold day we may not even leave our two bedroom apartment. I make decisions like should I do the dishes first or the laundry? I am completely dependent on my husband for all my needs. I have a few precious hours when my baby is sleeping that I can choose to either clean the house, cook, take a nap myself, or do something just for me. I usually choose to cook or clean because that is something that has to happen. Basically NOTHING in my life is the same. I often feel dull, old, fat, ugly and dumb. It’s no wonder then that I felt like my husband saw me that way. It’s because I actually saw myself that way. And its also no wonder that my husband felt like the woman he had fallen in love with had disappeared and left a knew one in her place.

As we talked my wonderful husband realized how devastating it can be to so completely lose your identity. He knew from the changes that he had experienced that it can be really hard so he could see how hard it had been for me. “It’s no wonder you have been so unhappy” he told me. “We need to do something to change that.”

We then talked about possible options of ways that we could bring back the girl that he had fallen in love with.

It’s funny because I had always heard women who choose to stay home with their children talk about feeling as though they had lost their identity. I thought I understood that and yet this was a huge awakening moment to me to realize that I was experiencing this.

10411160_1614386682115634_183894752115933670_n-1Now I have to say. I LOVE staying at home with my baby. It has been a dream come true. But that doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly hard and that it doesn’t require some sacrifice and hard work. But I need to find a balance. As part of that we have decided that I would write more. I will explore new experiences and ideas associated with being a mother and I will find ways of bringing out the woman that I was in new ways. So you might say that the old me is back, but thats not at all true. The new me is coming and I am excited to share my journey with you on this blog!

Life is Hard; But Thats Not Why I’m Crying

I haven’t written in a while. I feel a little overwhelmed with my life at the moment. But there is so much that I want to say today that I just hope I can find the words to say it adequately.

When I was single I wrote more than one post about how hard it is to be single; how hard it is to feel like you have some how come to a dead end and don’t know what to do to change it. I wrote about feeling hopeless in my desire for children and family. I wrote about how lonely it feels to go to bed by myself every night, to go to church alone every Sunday. And it was hard, it was terribly hard and it was a burden I could never have carried on my own.

Last night as I put Preston down for the night I felt such relief to know that it would be hours before he would need me again. I closed his door so softly so that I wouldn’t wake him because  I didn’t feel like I could handle his squirming, crying, needyness one more minute. And then I sighed and went to bed. As I crawled in next to my husband too tired to even turn over and give him a proper goodnight, I pushed that body pillow between my legs to ease my aching hips and propped my ever growing pregnant belly on top so that it wouldn’t strain my back. I felt my husband’s warm body next to me and when he rubbed my feet with his and whispered goodnight, I just wanted to cry because I have so much and yet life is still hard.

I woke in the middle of the night because the pain in my throat and my ears was becoming too much to sleep through. Preston and I have both been sick with a bad cold, cough, fever and just feeling pretty plain miserable. I took a sip of water from the glass that Joseph always makes sure is on the nightstand next to my bed and I tried to sleep. It wasn’t long before Joseph started to stir. I didn’t feel like I could handle another day so soon. “We need to get going” he told me. we had a big day planned. “I know” I said although I couldn’t make it come out more than a whisper because my voice was so raspy. “I feel terrible” I com10417689_1577899402431029_5100755972080308831_nplained. Joseph leaned over and gently pushed the hair off my forehead. “Do you want to just rest this morning? I can go to work and come home early so that we can still get everything done that we have to do today” he told me. I gladly agreed and layed back down. He kissed me gently, not even worried about catching my germs and then left to go to one of his two jobs that he works so hard at to support us.

It was 9am when Preston woke up, I was glad he had let me sleep so long. We cuddled in bed and gazed in each others eyes for awhile before he insisted it was time for breakfast. I was preoccupied with something else and Preston was trying hard to get my attention. He was leaning forward in his highchair, a huge smile on his food covered face. He was giggling at nothing just to get me to look at him. I couldn’t help but smile back and that smile was followed by a flood of tears. Partially because I am pregnant and tears flow all too easily these days but also because I HAVE EVERYTHING I HAVE EVER WANTED. And life is still hard. Joseph and I have disagreements sometimes and I am here to tell you that the more you love someone the more mad you get at them. I am pregnant with another special blessing that I know will bring as much joy as Preston has. But between the intense morning sickness, and blinding headaches I haven’t really enjoyed this pregnancy much.

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Don’t worry those spots all over him are just lipstick kisses!

I don’t know wether this post is about complaining or about feeling blessed because I feel overwhelmed with both right now. All I know is that all morning I have felt like my old self, the one that ached after years and years of wondering if this time of life would ever come for me, has been looking over my shoulder smiling at all the things that I am enjoying and not enjoying so much about this time and she is pleased beyond words.

I am so lucky to have found someone that I love so deeply and intensely and who feels the same way about me. I am so lucky that two amazing spirits have chosen ME to be their mother! I get to be a stay at home mom. That doesn’t happen without a husband who is willing to work twice as hard and sacrifice to get by with less. I have laundry up to my eyeballs and dirty dishes enough to keep me occupied all day. And I have a silly giggling boy who inspite of being sick himself gently caresses my check and showers me with wet, (we hope its just slobbery) kisses.

Yes life is hard, incredibly so. But its so good that sometimes the only way to soak it all in is to just allow the tears to flow.

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Baby Culture: Is There a Double Standard

I’ve decided that babies have a culture all their own. Its like they live in a totally different world. In their world its perfectly acceptable to sleep till noon, poop your pants, throw up on people and never even say sorry. In fact sometimes they do it and LAUGH! Can you imagine the audacity? I mean there is a serious double standard for babies in the world. As my sister and I were discussing this the other day we decided to try an experiment. We decided to talk to people…grown up people I mean… in the same way that most grown ups talk to babies.

Mother enters the room from upstairs.

Me: watcha doing whitto muddo, huh…huh tell me all about it. yeah

Mother: What?

Me: Did you have a bath? Huh been splashing and splashing.

Mother: Whats wrong with you.

but I can’t talk because Hannah is laughing so hard and I am about to bust a gut myself.

So we got thinking what if there wasn’t a double standard

Would we meet a stranger for the first time and instead of shaking their hand you pick it up and start to suck on their fingers! How weird would that be?

Would you see someone you like and run to them and hang on their leg and stick your head in their crotch? Awkward right?

It’s funny that we don’t bat an eye when kids do things but if adults did them its weird.

What if adults let their noses run all down their face… (ok wait I have actually seen some adults who do this and it is so NOT cool)

what if adults laid in bed and cried when we got hungry until someone came to feed us. And lets not even talk about how babies get their food.

I was at a friends house last night and their two year old was entertaining himself by running around the couch. It’s not weird until you think about an adult doing it right?

Preston's first photo bomb

Preston’s first photo bomb

I can tell you its been awhile since someone told me the rolls on MY thighs were cute.

I was playing with Preston the other day and I told him I was going to eat his toes and then I actually did put them in my mouth and make noises like I was gobbling them up…could you imagine…ugh. But baby toes just aren’t gross. why is that? 10564793_10154365362515344_1384080184_n

Don’t get me wrong I’m not advocating for a change. Its quite obviously a double standard that SHOULD be there. But we did have a good laugh imagining a life where it wasn’t. The many faces of Preston

I’m a Mom! Preston turned 6 weeks old yesterday and I am still wrapping my head around the fact that I am a mom. This isn’t just a temporary experience that will one day go away this is the real deal. The truth is that I have mixed emotions about that.

As I have seen so many others have babies i mostly saw just the good parts. The blissful mother sitting quietly rocking her sleeping baby wrapped sweetly in a blanket. My experience has been a bit different or at least there were things about being a mom that I never saw with other people.

I never saw…

how sometimes you don’t realize until the end of the day that you never combed your hair. And then when you do realize it you also realize that you really don’t care.

how many times I would find myself racing to the bathroom because since the birth I literally have seconds before its too late; and I never knew how many times I would have a nursing baby in my arms at the same time because he would scream if I tried to put him down.

those moments at 3 am when the baby hasn’t slept all night and just won’t stop screaming and you feel like challenging him to a match to see who can cry harder.

I never knew the “joy” of nursing a baby while milk from the other side drips down your belly and onto your baby.

But there was no way that anyone could have prepared me for the feeling that I would get when my finally satisfied baby looked up at me with milk dripping from his chin, opened one eye and grinned.

I couldn’t have foreseen how much joy I would get from hearing him finally poop after it has been a few days and I am worried.

And nothing compares with laying in the bath tub with my baby laying next to me, his arms and legs wrapped around me like a little monkey and his little face propped up so that I can see his wide open eyes, his fat chin and pink lips propped up on my chest looking as content and happy as I have ever seen him.10564793_10154365362515344_1384080184_n

I lay awake at night marveling at the tiny pink balls that are the undersides of his perfect little toes, the tiny dimples on his little manly hands and his funny elf shaped ears.

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His one little curl that WILL stand up in the center of his head and the little muscles of his arms make me just want to squeeze him.

He loves to cuddle and he sighs in contentment when I am close to him. Its so amazing to know that he loves me so completely and that I am the one he wants above all others. I never new I would sit and cry just because I don’t know what else to do with all the love I feel.

It scares me a little to love someone so much. Especially someone so vulnerable. Before I had a baby, I was never really afraid of much because the worst thing that could happen was that I would die… and that didn’t seem so horrible. Now there are dozens of worse things that could happen and all of them make my blood run cold with fear.

What if he gets sick and I don’t know how to make him feel better?

What if He gets hurt? I could get in a car accident, I could drop him, he could fall off the bed, he could choke, he could just stop breathing in the night for no reason, he could have any number of complications that would be outside of my control and the thought is horrifying. Nothing is worse than the thought of losing my baby or of seeing him suffer.

I have always heard stories of soldiers laying dying and calling for their mothers with their last breaths. Now I have a little son and suddenly that becomes the most heart breaking thing I have ever heard. I pray every day with all of my heart that the Lord keeps my little one safe. 10551783_10154365363500344_372717421_n

Grandma is worried about how empty the house is going to feel when this little one goes home.

And I am worried about what I am going to do without all the help taking care of him.

Being a mother is scary, difficult, exhausting, wonderful exhilarating, fulfilling and indescribable…

So I guess I better stop trying. Besides I think I hear him stirring…

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Yep! I’m A Mom. You Can Tell From The Stale Milk On My Shoulder

My fears of Childbirth

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Fear. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot today. I didn’t think I was afraid of childbirth. And I guess I’m not in the traditional sense of what one might think about in terms of fearing the pain of giving birth. I don’t fear the pain.

I am actually looking forward to the sensations that my body will experience during this incredible process. I look forward to feeling the surges roll through my body and I look forward to using the skills I have been practicing for months to help me breathe through those surges in a way that embraces their coming instead of fighting against it. I look forward to the sensation of the baby moving further down in the birth canal and that pathway opening up to accommodate him. I look forward to breathing my baby down, feeling his head, knowing that any moment a new life will begin, a new person will enter this world.

I look forward to those moments when the sensations, the adrenaline, the oxytocin and all the other hormones that my body will be producing will overwhelm my senses and leave me with no other option than to completely surrender to the experience. I look forward to feeling the baby pass from my body into this world.

I can’t wait to hold him, to cuddle him in my arms, to see Joseph in him and a bit of myself as well. I can’t wait to see his skin color, his eyes, his fat little legs, his fingers and toes. I look forward to so much!

So why do I feel fear as this time approaches? I’ve been thinking through this a lot today because I feel that my fear can keep my body from functioning in the best, most effective way. Those things that i am holding on to can potentially keep me holding on to this baby longer than I need to. Tomorrow marks 40 weeks and my body is aching and tired and heavy. It’s time Preston joined the rest of the outside world.

I have a very strong belief in my body. I believe that it knows how to birth this baby. It was designed and prepared to birth this baby. But there is always the what if. What if my body fails me. What if when I depend on it the most it doesn’t function as it should. What if the dreams, beliefs and anticipations that I have looked forward to in regards to birth don’t happen for me?

The answer to that question is that it might. And I might go to a hospital and have interventions, perhaps even a C-section like thousands and perhaps even millions of other women have had. And the world won’t end. Those things that I believe will still be true it just will have not worked out that way for me…this time. And I will be ok. The only way to ever know is to try.

Another fear, and perhaps my biggest is Joseph. I know he won’t be here for the birth. Even if I could wait several more weeks, he still wouldn’t make it in time for the birth of our baby, and it wouldn’t be healthy or a good thing for any of us to try to wait. I thought I had resigned myself to that reality. We have plans to Skype him in for the birth, plans for how he can help and be a part of the process. But by having this baby now I have to give up on hope. As irrational as I know it is I was hoping that miracles would come through and that Joseph would be here to give me a hug, to comfort me when things get hard and to remind me of what I know when I am tempted to forget. I had hoped that he would surround me and our baby in his arms when Preston was born and our little family would experience that joy together in those precious first moments of life. I had hoped to see the tears in his eyes when he first became a father, to see his trembling hands as he cut the cord. 10168927_10153984629515344_1116563071_n

I wanted to watch him hold our baby and marvel at his perfect features I wanted to watch him fall asleep with the baby on his chest. I wanted him to be here for all of those first moments. The moment I give in to birth the hope of all those things is gone. How will I look him in the face so far away with no way to change his circumstances and know that he has been robbed of those precious moments that will never come again? How can I enjoy them knowing he is in Uganda alone? How can I be ok with that?

I guess its important to know that fear or not, losing hope or not, it’s still going to happen. Sooner or later, it’s going to happen. This baby is going to be born, Joseph still won’t be here no matter how long I try to wait. False hope is no better than no hope. It’s also important to know (and I do) that Heavenly Father has a plan, he hasn’t forgotten us, he knows what we are facing and he doesn’t feel that this is too much or too hard for us. He will be here with us as he has been all along. I know that’s true.

And that’s all there is to say about that one.

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One final fear that I sense in myself is a fear of how this baby will change my life. Because I know it will. I will be a mother and with that title comes an eternity of overwhelming love and responsibility like I have never known. I think I am ready for it but how does when ever REALLY get ready for that.

I guess this is just another moment in life when you step over an edge, and trust that the Father who brought you this far will finish what he started. I’ve been strong, I’ve been patient, I have been faithful. I have also cried, and questioned, doubted and worried. I guess all that is left is to move forward one step in front of the other and see what this grand adventure we call life has in store for me and for my family.

I love you Joseph, I love you Preston, soon both of the important men in my life will be together in the same room and I will be able to put my arms around them both and introduce them to each other. It will be a great day.10168382_10153984682860344_1292442757_n

 

Preparing for Baby

When I got pregnant it seemed so unreal to me. It seemed that nine months would take forever. Now, here I am at 35 weeks with just five more to go! I am more excited than ever about my baby boy. And now the preparations for him to join us have begun in earnest. I’ve been washing baby clothes and blankets and putting them in the drawer. I’ve been gathering diapers and all the other things that I will need to care for him.

Mom wearing Daddy's BYU shirt at 35 weeks.

Mom wearing Daddy’s BYU shirt at 35 weeks.

I’ve been preparing myself mentally and physically for the birth. And I’ve got to admit…I am almost as excited about the experience of birth as I am for the experience of having a baby. Call me crazy but I have been reading, watching videos and learning about everything childbirth related for a very long time. It’s made actually getting to experience pregnancy so much fun.

So here are a few things that surprised me.

1.) The term carrying a baby is a bit misleading. I kind of always imagined carrying a little baby around in my belly for nine months waiting for the day it would be born….NOT THE CASE. Your body is working hard, and you feel it! It’s not “carrying a baby” It’s creating a human. Its growing organs, bones, skin, developing brains, lungs and all kinds of abilities. It’s sustaining a heart beat, a digestive system, its providing blood, regulating temperature and a million other things. Your body literally becomes a factory! And its the most amazing thing ever!

2.) I had no idea how much work there was in preparing the body for delivery. I kind of thought that when it came time to have the baby that’s when the work began. I had no idea that bones are softening and moving, that ligaments are stretching, squeezing and accommodating, Every part of your body begins preparing for the delivery almost as soon as you get pregnant and you feel that too!

3.) I knew I would be excited and happy to be pregnant. I had no idea it would be so fulfilling, bring so much peace and contentment, that love would grow so quickly and not just for my baby. That the spirit of the baby would be so present and so real and that nothing in this world would be as important to me as he is.

Another thing I have been doing to prepare for this baby is baby showers! I honestly didn’t expect them to be this much fun. I’ve always felt a bit awkward and uncomfortable receiving gifts and having a party specifically for me. But this was actually kind of fun. One of the things that I enjoyed the most was a little activity that my sister Hannah put together for the shower.

Each person was given a piece of paper shaped like a onesie to write some advice for me as the mom. Everyone wrote wonderful things, but here are a few of my favorites.

From my sister Hannah here are just five of her ten pieces of really good advice. 1.) Don’t make me change his dirty diapers. I offer 3 times a week, that’s all. 2.) Keep some spare diapers, not for him, but for you because after kids, bladders just aren’t the same. 3.) stock up on chocolate 4.) Raise him with a musical background 5.) Don’t worry. He’ll be an awesome kid.

From a dear friend…When you want to cry, do it. remember you were meant to do this, so when you don’t know what to do, pray. It is His child too and He wants you to succeed.

From a sister that I have always looked up to…See the world through your child’s eyes, don’t expect to be a perfect parent.

From a loving mother, Always be a friend to Preston and listen to what he has to say, most of all enjoy him and give him lots of love.

From a sister with a 2 year old…If you don’t have a lot of patience you will learn to have it.

From a sister without any children, but who still gives really good advice. Remember Netflix can wait.

From Preston’s (biological grandma, not that it matters) Love Preston enough to have the courage to do what is best for him instead of what is easiest for you.

and last but not least from a niece whom I love like a daughter…Remember to do the same things you did with me. So pretty much love that baby as much as you love me!

They also were given a list to complete of hopes for Preston. People hoped many beautiful things for him such as…

I hope you love: hugs, your parents, your life, music, sleep, God above all else, safari animals, deeply, and unconditionally.

I hope you become: A strong man, a dreamer, confident and successful, a handsome dude, firm in your faith, and a big brother.

I hope you don’t: keep your mom awake all night (keeping my fingers crossed for this one!), give up when trials come, ever forget that I love you, forget to pray, run from failure, experience prejudice, feel hopeless, get left at the store, cry a lot, sell yourself short.

The list goes on with many beautiful and sometimes funny sentiments. It will be something fun to leave for Preston when he grows up.

And now, just got to keep this kid happy and relaxed until its time to be born. At this point we both feel like he is “running out of womb!”