Monday, May 16, 2016

The Path of Least Resistance

    Ella has been on somewhat of a miniature "nursing strike" (?) that I think has to do with teething. Also, I've been working out regularly and that combination means my milk supply has taken a hit. Everyone says breastfeeding helps you lose weight, but what they don't tell you is that it TAKES calories to make milk.  Calories in...Calories out....and then more calories out.  If you mess with the system, your milk suffers.  And you're starving all the time.  I have had so many people tell me they couldn't lose weight until they weaned.  Your body holds onto absolutely every single calorie when you're nursing.  It's the most genius, intelligent design and also the most maddening.

     All this to say, I've been supplementing a lot.  I nurse her on each side for a while and then top her off with a bottle.  She gets sooooo excited when she sees the bottle.  It kind of breaks my heart a little.  Heartbreakingly cute.  She even bounces up and down.  She is Baby Smeagol and the bottle is her Preeeecccccioussss!

     She has also been waking up at night.  For the first time in probably...6 months, she's up again...and again.  For a while.  You guys. I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but...I'm probably dying.  Another thing no one tells you is that it's not necessarily a "lack of sleep" you're experiencing but rather a lack of CONSISTENT SLEEP.  That's the real bummer.  I haven't slept longer than a 2-3 hour stretch in weeks.   Naps are good.   I will never in my life turn down the opportunity for a good hour long nap.  Sweet, kind, adorable people of the internet...nothing replaces a good 5-7 hour stretch of nighttime sleep.  Please.

     Last night, I sat in the soft, creaky rocking chair that was given to me, secondhand from a sweet friend, and I rocked Ella.  Back and forth. Back and forth. Creak-creak. Creak-creak. I propped the bottle up against my chest, laid my head back and sighed.  I started thinking about All the Deep and Heavy Middle of The Night Things, as one does at 3am. Dark. Quiet. Alone.  The truth is...I'm bummed about my milk.  I'm worried about it.  I approach it like it's this elusive thing....here one day...gone the next...(and it's totally not).  Truth is...I am TOO worried about it.  It is fine.  Really. It will be fine. At almost 8 months in (how is that possible?) I now consider myself an "experienced" nursing mother.  We can do this.   And still...here I am...at 3am...grumbling.  I resent the pump. I curse the formula, and yet...somehow I am also unendingly grateful for these dependable, life-giving things.

We look into each other's eyes...deep quiet...as we sing songs about Jesus.

I heave another sigh and ask, as I rock my hungry, beautiful child. "Can this count as worship?"  I pray a silent prayer, "Lord, please say yes."  And, of course, He does.

And I realize...the easy thing to do is to start praying that my Ella Baby will once again sleep through the night.  And yet...The Bible is full of stories about God decidedly NOT using the path of least resistance.

God: Jonah, this is Whale. Whale.  This is Jonah.
Whale:  ((promptly swallows Jonah))

(End scene)

You understand.

I read one time that in America, we pray for lighter loads while in other countries, they simply pray for stronger backs.

And you guys.  That just hit me.  Hard.

I mean...this is motherhood, right?  I refuse to make good sleep and abundant breast milk my idols, and I think The Lord wants to use the fuzzy exhaustion to turn me into a better person.

If, you know, being a "better person" means griping at my husband in the bathroom doorway at 4am.  In that case, YES!  I WIN!

I really do not know where we go from here.  We pray.  We feed. We sleep when we can.  And perhaps, most importantly, we avoid the path of least resistance.





Sunday, May 8, 2016

Dear God, Amen: The Birth Story of Ella Marie

     To start, I will tell you I don’t think I ever reached the “10th level of hell miserably pregnant” stage of my pregnancy. Yes. I was hot. Yes. I was tired. But... Ella never really dropped. I never felt her in my pelvis. There wasn’t ever any pressure. She was just “up there.” I don’t know why this seems like a pertinent part of the story, but...here we are.

     As many of you know, Tim and I destroyed our house with projects in the months before my due date. Like...no-flooring in the kitchen...oven in the living room...DESTROYED. I often told my baby I “wasn’t ready.”

My “not readiness” was actually 1 part “still cleaning” and 2 parts “terrifyingly-horrifically-afraid.” Which I can see now makes very little sense.

I have often heard women say they cry on their due dates. The weekend before, I was like, “Why do women cry. I’m fine.”

And then my actual due date hit. Bah-haha!

All this to say... never one to disobey her mom...

Ella was late.

I won’t bore you with details (IS IT TOO LATE!?!?!) ;)

On my due date, (Monday, September 21st), my doctor informed me that absolutely nothing had changed (not dilated or effaced). I may as well have been 30 or so weeks pregnant instead of staring 40-ish weeks in the face. We talked about induction...I cried the entire day and was scheduled to go back on Wednesday. Cry. Cry. Cry.

You know the drill. I was officially past my due date, and for various reasons, doctors wanted to induce..

Um...is there another term we could use for “hysterical mess?” God bless the people in my life who didn’t screen my calls between my due date and my next appointment.

I was scheduled to come back Wednesday afternoon (September 23rd).

That morning, I cried and prayed (and prayed and prayed). I put on some of the only clothes that still felt like they sort of fit (black shorts, a purple tank top, a soft gray cardigan and flip flops...ALWAYS flip flops...heehee).  This is the last "belly photo" I took before she was born. 



I (somehow) pulled myself together and went about my day. I was on the hunt for “tiny pumpkins” to decorate our front porch for fall before Ella arrived. I looked at several different places. I told my mom I thought I was projecting ALL MY ANXIETY on finding those tiny pumpkins. For some reason, they just felt desperately important. I dropped off a load of “junk” at salvation army and bought three Christmas ornaments for Ella at Hobby Lobby. I felt like I needed confirmation that she would get here in time to see them. At that point, I was honestly preparing for a 2016 baby (haha).

I scarfed down drive-through chik-fil-a and watched Parks and Recreation on Netflix as I stared at the clock. I practiced DEEP BREATHING. Tim was running late, so we were going to meet at the office. On the way, I blasted part of my labor and delivery playlist (Bethel Music, Lauren Daigle & Jeremy Riddle) and continued breathing. The appointment went very fast. The nurse looked at my chart and said, “They might send you over to induce tonight.”

I thought she was joking.

We spoke briefly with the doctor and he told us we needed to go check into the hospital.

THIS IS NOT THE PLAN GUYS. THIS WAS NOT THE PLAN. I did not have my bags with me. There were tons of items still unpacked (make-up, chargers, hair dryer, etc.). I did not say good-bye to the dogs...I had an entire list of things “to do” before we left the hospital in my fancy Erin Condren planner.

I thought I would be hysterical, but I was excited. So excited. People. This is proof that God exists.

We checked in at the front desk...took a selfie...of course...and headed to our room.



The first nurse I met was a God-send. She became my instant bestie. I will remember her forever. No joke. You L&D nurses...don’t ever underestimate the importance of your job. Holy Smokes.

When we checked in, our good friend (who happens to be an anesthesiologist) stopped by to see us. I didn’t want to tell anyone we had been admitted until everything was settled (paperwork finished, blood drawn, etc.). I wanted to be able to make my phone calls without being interrupted. I remember cracking up because we were just chatting casually while NO ONE in our families knew what was happening.

Tim went to get my bags, feed the dogs and gather a few necessary things. (Like snacks and a steak dinner for me from Outback, to-go). Funny side note: My DOCTOR and Nurse Best Friend actually sat with me while I looked online and decided what I wanted to order as my “last meal” before delivery. It was very sweet and not what I was expecting at all. Outback Steakhouse for the win. (For the record, I was allowed to eat a little after that because my induction took soooooo long, but we didn't know that at the time).

I was antsy for him to get back because OMGOODNESS WHAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENED!?!?! I watched news about The Pope’s visit to the U.S. While I waited. Riveting.

Little did I know, this is where it gets incredibly boring for the next 30 hours. Ha.

Wed. night (Sept. 23rd) and Thursday (Sept. 24th), they pumped me full of drugzzzz and like...nothing happened...except I was bedridden and super uncomfortable. The first prescription they used was...in a word...unpleasant. If you end up being induced, call me first. We’ll chat. ;) Thursday afternoon, they let me off the wires and machines for an hour so we could walk around and I could shower.

Best hour of my life. I’m not kidding. It felt so good to get up and stretch my legs. The shower was magnificent, and Tim didn’t leave my side. He even sat outside the bathroom door and kept me company while I showered. It was really sweet.

They started a new drug around 3pm because nothing....nothing....NOTHING was happening. Nurse best friend had returned for a new shift (WE WERE THERE FOR SO LONG), I was getting really discouraged, so she fashioned a tiny hat with a bow and hung it on the bassinet at the foot of my bed. I needed a sign that Ella was actually maybe probably someday coming.  

Tim left to potty the dogs,and I was so bored and bed-ridden that I did my make up. Like. Full-on make up. Ha.

Prom, anyone?


Another side note: Do yourselves a favor and find a trusted friend or family member to potty your dogs while you have your baby. Not that anyone would have minded doing it- we just didn’t bother to ask, initially. Kind of like...how inconvenient can it be, right? The answer is...very inconvenient. And we live 7 minutes from the hospital.

     Fast forward to around 9:30 that night. I remember my doctor saying he thought we should talk about “throwing in the towel.” I was SO RELIEVED. They had upped my pitocin to 14 and Ella was still locked in tight. TIGHT! The highest they will go is 20 (I have no idea what this measurement means...and didn’t care to ask...haha). By this time, I was having contractions, but they were mild (?) and uncomfortable. I was breathing through them a bit but they weren’t doing anything productive.

     We had been at the hospital for 30 hours. Yeesh. If you guys want her out, that’s fine...but you’re going to have to go in and get her. I had made my peace with that. I started sending out frantic texts and making phone calls. Tim was still gone, and I was allll, "You need to get back here."  Thinking back, it feels like he was gone a lot...haha.  We laughed about it afterwards- it seemed like EVERY TIME the doctor came in, Tim wasn't even in the room.  

     Once we were alone, Tim walked by the bed, and I reached out my hand. “Look at me.” I pleaded. “This really is the best thing? Everything is going to be ok?” He nodded casually. “Yes. Yes. Sure. It’s fine.” He prayed with me, and he decided to try to get some sleep (there was actually a c-section ahead of me...by this time, it was around midnight). I had zero expectations about sleeping. I was too wound up and was constantly being checked and monitored by the nurses. (This was around midnight).  

     I was really hoping to have skin-to-skin time with Ella, and I was worried that surgery would hinder that. They told me their lactation consultant was still there (she would be the one to help hold Ella to my chest), but was on a time crunch.


I sent a text to friends and family, asking them to pray. I watched the clock. Nervous that we would run out of time.

     When the anesthesiologist arrived, he was gruff and to the point. As he wheeled all his fancy machines around the bed, hooking up my IV’s, he commented on the amount of “stuff” in the room. I watched the ceiling tiles as Tim emphatically agreed, “I tried to tell her...it was too much.” (For the record, I had a bag of clothes for me/Ella, a canvas tote that held her nursing pillow and a small tote bag of snacks and that was IT). I remember thinking to myself, “Ok. Are we REALLY having this conversation NOW?”

     I was dreading the moment we would get separated (I went into the OR first while Tim stayed behind and put on his scrubs). I knew any kind of affection at all would evoke tears, so I simply called out from my bed, “Tim Young. I will see you on the other side.” as they wheeled my bed out the door.

     I stepped out of my bed and sat on the operating table. I just remember thinking, “I really, really, really don’t want to do this.” Ugh. It was such a feeling of dread.

     There were several nurses in the room, but you could hear a pin drop. In the moment, I thought they were sharpening all the tools. Ha. I later heard someone say they just count everything to make sure they don’t sew you up with their scissors still inside. This makes perfect sense. Sharpening tools? Hello? This is childbirth...not a mafia interrogation.

Needless to say, I felt very small and afraid.

     And then (OH MY WORD), I started to panic. It felt like I was being held upside down. I could feel the “numbness” creeping up towards my lungs (none of this was true, by the way). Then I started worrying that if I panicked, they would knock me out and I would miss Ella’s birth.

I STARTED PANICKING ABOUT THE PANICKING!!!!

YOU GUYS! I still carry a little bit of shame about the miniature panicking. I don’t even know why. After 7 months, the fog has lifted I’m trusting that eventually, it’ll clear completely.

Let me just tell you...my team was the perfect mix of tough and tender.

The anesthesiologist said, “Your heart is racing. You need to get it together RIGHT HERE.” And he poked my forehead.

Looking back, the funny thing is, I found his refusal to coddle me SO OFFENSIVE that it actually distracted me/ calmed me down.

Hello...I’m freaking out over here. WHY AREN’T YOU BEING SUPER NICE TO ME!!!!

Also, it must be noted that...like an idiot...I kept informing them OVER AND OVER AGAIN that OMGOODNESS I CAN STILL FEEL THAT!!!!!!

You guys. No one wants to feel themselves being cut open.

Please.

     Interestingly enough, the doctor I ended up with was actually number 4 on my mental list of preferred doctors on call. I just didn’t know him that well, and he seemed a bit standoffish. I now realize that I had just misread gentle as “aloof.” God bless that kind, genius of a man.

     We chatted about my sister’s kids (he actually delivered my nephew) and the next thing I knew, My Tim had arrived and all was right with the world.

I made him tell me EVERYTHING HE KNOWS ABOUT GUITARS OH MY WORD JUST KEEP TALKING.

In the background, I heard Dr. F say, “Well, hello there.” (At this point, he could see Ella).

“Are you guys ready to be parents?”

And then we heard her cry. (At 2:21am EARLY Friday morning, Sept. 25th).

And we both bawled our faces off. She was finally here.

Tim took photos and videos while they weighed and measured my tiny, beautiful child. As I waited, I whispered, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.”

     People have a lot of hang-ups about c-sections. I get it. Kind of. I do. But here’s the thing. It was the most amazing experience of my life because I don’t have a choice. I can sulk about unmet expectations or I can enjoy it for what it was- the birth of my tiny, beautiful child. It was something my sweet Ella Baby and I survived together. Don’t we all want to be able to look back and say, “Oh...by the time I got to the hospital, my contractions were getting a little more painful, but guess what...I was already 9 centimeters! I didn’t even have time for an epidural. Three pushes later, my baby was out! And I went home in my pre-pregnancy jeans!”

I think THAT experience is pretty rare. (And if that’s your experience, we’re very happy for you, but seriously. Keep that story to yourself). ;)

It’s true that I was (technically) not the first one to hold my baby. Tim did not get to cut the cord.

     But you know who WERE the first ones to hold her? People who are passionate about healthy mothers and babies. People who have spent long days and late nights studying techniques...pouring over research...perfecting their craft. They’ve sacrificed holidays with their families and outings with their friends...they’ve dedicated their entire lives to the act of birthing babies...and that’s a really beautiful thing. The first person to REALLY look at and photograph her was the same man who has cried for her and prayed for her before he even knew she existed...I couldn’t ask for a better experience ushering her into this world...they held her for 2 minutes. I will hold her forever.

Perspective.

After having said that, we had enough staff present to do skin-to-skin in the O.R. While they stitched me up which was a HUGE praise.

Armed only with my wavering courage, and their sharp, metal tools, We had waged war with Mother Nature, and we had won. When the nurse held Ella to my chest, I felt like the conquering queen presented with a fallen country’s treasure.



I talked to Ella as she squirmed and wriggled on my bare chest.

The anesthesiologist wiped my tears for me.

     I was worried that I would feel like my body had failed me. I realize now that my body was just asking for grace. I am not very good at giving that to my body so...this lesson was hard but also necessary and good. As someone who has needed heaps upon heaps of grace in my lifetime, who was I to say no?

     This was the end of the road for us. I had asked my body to carry a child for 40 weeks. I begged it to keep her warm and healthy and safe, and it had done exactly that. It had helped Ella grow organs and eyes and arms and legs. She had my lips and Tim’s nose (which I actually prayed she would get).

In the coming days, I would ask it to heal and produce milk for my tiny, beautiful child.

I had no complaints.

They moved me from the table back to my hospital bed, placed Burrito-wrapped Ella by my side and wheeled us back to the room with Tim following closely behind.

     I don’t remember a lot about the 2 hours I spent in recovery, but I do remember feeling warm and safe and so loved. I know there was a lot of temperature taking, incision checking, and the like. Tim was in his element. I cannot say enough nice things about That Tim. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought he and the nurse had come up with an entire recovery plan... “You go left...I’ll go right.”

     As the numbing meds wore off, I shivered uncontrollably as they held Sweet Ella to my breast. She nursed for a long time. Tim rubbed my sore muscles. (I had strained my neck looking up at Ella on my chest after surgery). Tim sat next to the bed and kept vigil while I tried to sleep with her on my bare chest. I think whatever I lost from not having a “natural birth experience,” I gained back in Recovery. A lot of good memories.


Excuse the weird shadow over my left eye...5am selfie lighting!

     By then it was nearly 5am. We barely slept the rest of the day. The food was surprisingly good (might I recommend their burgers, deli sandwiches and oatmeal). We snacked on coffee and ice cream from the nearby “snack room” while all our people came to see us (Ok. They came to see Ella, right?). 

     




     Before bedtime on Saturday, I fed Ella and Tim fed me vanilla pudding while we watched HGTV. Oh my word, I want to remember that sweet scene forever.

     Here me now, you intelligent, beautiful, teenage girls on the internet...this is why you don’t have sex and make babies with someone who is not your husband. There is blood. There are guts. (GUTS!?!?!) And you will want to experience it with someone who is in it with you for the long haul. Alex P. from your 12th Grade English Lit. Class is going to go home and crash on his parents’ couch while playing XBOX as you’re nursing your hungry, incredible child. He’s not going to feed you pudding at 1am because that is not the way of The 12th Grade Boy. That is, however, the way of the 30-something-married-for-8-years-responsible-home-owning-husband. You almost can’t even understand it until you go through it, but I digress.





     Saturday night was rough (We didn’t go home until Sunday). Babies do this thing called cluster feeding where they just want to eat all the time. It’s really kind of maddening but also super sweet. Babies also don’t realize they’ve been born...you know...in the middle of the night. Which makes complete sense. Like, “I’m a baby...how am I supposed to know it’s NIGHT TIME!?!” So...they have to learn about their own little sleep cycles...night and day and what not. It’s a lot for a little, tiny, baby.

     So...I was awake. A lot. I intentionally let That Tim sleep because, having just endured a c-section, I knew I would NEED HIM IN THE MORNING AND PRETTY MUCH ALL DAY AFTER THAT FOR AS LONG AS WE BOTH SHALL LIVE!!! I devoured season after season of Parks and Recreation and ate deli sandwiches and sodas from our room’s tiny fridge. I paced the floor and read every single poster hanging on the walls of our room...at least twice. In all seriousness, when I think about that night, as hard as it was, it still makes me happy. Just me and my teeny, floppy baby.


     Early the next morning, I heard a loud voice in the hallway coming from the intercom. It was Sunday. Someone was praying. I cracked open the door to hear the sound from the speakers, and I rocked Ella as she fussed through the entire prayer. I tried to pray along but couldn’t organize my thoughts in time. The only three words I could make out were “Dear God” and eventually, “Amen.”

And so I prayed. Dear God, Amen. Those were the only three words my exhausted soul could muster.

And they were enough.

















Tuesday, September 15, 2015

First Thing's First

If I had a dollar for every draft I have waiting in my blog roll, I'd have...like...58 dollars.  

I always thought I'd be one of those Pinterest girls who writes about All the Baby Things on a chalkboard. 

And then life happened. 

And I'm totally ok with that.  

I just keep telling myself, "What you have is enough."  

Time. Pictures.  Baby clothes.  Ok...now I'm talking crazy.  Are there ever enough baby clothes? ;)  

I woke up this morning thinking about the blog.   That's probably strange.  It just felt like something I needed "to do" before we have this here baby.  

I wondered if I thought I would have written a book by now...or if I'd be making money blogging by now or...

???

And it occurred to me that in this moment, I am exactly where I thought I would be at 33...

Making warm pies and sweet babies (except I thought my babies would be a little older by now- ha. We plan, God laughs, right?)  

That is the call and it is strong, friends. 

One of my friends who is a genius and free-lance writer said she feels like she is supposed to put down the writing for a while. Like...motherhood is the gig right now.  

And I hear that. I do.  

Because my due date is so close, I am missing The Influence Conference this year and it's kind of killing me.  

I feel like I am a better person when I'm connecting with people and writing or at least THINKING about writing.

However...

Right around May, every.single.fiber.of.my.being started screaming, Ella's name. 

I can't explain it.  

So. Here we are.  

And because you're such peaches and you've read almost this entire thing...here's a sneak peak at Our Ella Baby's nursery.  I am so in love with her room and I can't wait for her to see it.  


     The horse belonged to Tim's mom, and some of the animals strewn about were mine when I was little.  The printable birds for the garland came from this Etsy Shop

     Anyway, I'd love to find the time to blog regularly someday. About motherhood.  About daily living. About our sweet dogs and how much I love That Tim.   I want to write about Ella and how much she has changed our lives. How The Lord used her first, tiny-sweet presence to bring healing into our marriage and make us better people.  How could one little person already do SUCH BIG THINGS?  I cry all the happy tears just thinking about it.  

Maybe someday. 

I know this feels like a weird good-bye and I promise, it's definitely not. So many things about life feel up in the air.  Even this post feels...unfinished?  But, it occurs to me that it feels unfinished because it all is...it's not going to feel "finished" until Ella is here, I think.  

Or maybe it won't but I'll be too tired to care. ;)  

So much about trying to conceive and being pregnant brings me back to The World and how much we need Jesus.  You know...the dots always connect.  You can always find the parallels if you look hard enough.  

     We will always be up at night, pacing the floors until Christ gets here. Isn't that right?  Something is always going to feel "off."  That traces allll the way back to The Old Testament.  Prophesies.  Advent. You know the drill.  

You guys.  Aren't I AMAZINGLY profound at 39 weeks pregnant.  Maybe all the water retention and swelling is going to MY BRAIN!  ;)  

I can't help but feel like we are on the edge of something really great.  You know?  The Lord is always ready to use us wherever we are.  Forever and ever amen.  

I want to put off being "finished" with this post so badly because it is scary to think about "putting it down" indefinitely. Not that I ever blogged "that much" in the first place but...

You understand. 

So I keep rambling.  

But...for now...you know. First thing's first.  

Bam! Ella Marie! 

I WILL SEE YOU GUYS ON THE OTHER SIDE!  

Love, extra long naps and a healthy dose of courage, 




 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Hardest Decision I've Ever had to Make




I told my friend Nice Courtney that I felt like every draft I wrote was BEGGING people to just look at me.

"10 reasons my husband is better than yours."

"8 Ways I keep my house clean" (still a mystery to me).

"This is a picture of my dog that's smarter than you."

I'm kidding, obviously.  But I was annoyed with MYSELF.  How could I hit publish on all this narcissistic garbage I wanted people to actually read and care about?

I was stuck in this strange, self-conscious All About Me Bubble.

So, I turned to Fat Mum Slim for assistance.

One of her prompts was about The Hardest Decision You've Ever Made, and something clicked.

About 11 months ago, I was hired to teach second grade at a nearby Christian School for the '14-'15 School Year, and I loved it.

     The people there mourned with us when I worried I couldn't get pregnant and rejoiced when we shared our sweet news.  They are some of the best people I know.  My mailbox overflowed with blankets, gift cards, and baby shoes.

But the catch is, it has always been my dream calling to STAY HOME with our young kids.

I've never considered myself a fantastically decisive decision-maker (redundant? So true).

But throughout the course of my life, a few things have been clear...

 I should:

- Stay in Cincinnati (Hello. I was 24 and homegirl wanted to move to CALIFORNIA).

- Marry Tim

- Write Lots of Things

- Stay home and make warm pies and sweet babies.


I am still learning not to question people's callings.  Sometimes they don't make sense.

     The call to stay home with our baby was strong, but I felt the opportunity to continue teaching (should it appear) was too good to pass up.  Small class sizes, a Christian environment in a field using my major, in a building that was extremely close to our house.  The job ticked all the "boxes."

And you can see how I was stuck. 

And I understood that while I had the pieces to the puzzle, God held the picture on the box.

"What if something happened to Tim and I needed the income?"

"What if God wants me to teach there so our kids can get a private/Christian education?"

I had a lot of questions, but for the reasons listed above...

In the spring of 2015, I decided that I was going to continue working after we had our baby.

My anxiety level was through the roof.

     But I dug my heels in and stayed the course.  I was going to teach, assuming the enrollment numbers made sense, and I was offered a job (because it is a private institution, and the enrollment numbers vary, everyone always gets a one-year contract).

     Three days before school let out, I was offered a spot, but it was not a full-time/all school-year position.  It didn't make financial sense for me to commit to it AND try to find/pay childcare.

The decision had been made.

I would stay home with Ella.

The weary world rejoices.

     I can honestly say this is only the second time in 33 years that I have KNOWN what I wanted to do, but voluntarily agreed to do the opposite anyway if The Lord so willed. (Usually God just has a way of matching up what I want to what He wants, so the surrender is often easy, I think. Oh my word, does that sound terrible?).

     The first time was when I agreed to stay in Cincinnati.  Roughly 3 months after I said, "Yes" to my home state, I met That Tim.  What a handsome reward.

     So. There you have it.  This whole situation has seemed a bit dramatic (I moved out of my classroom in like, 2 days, which is kind of a feat considering it was a second floor classroom and I was roughly 5 months pregnant at the time).  God bless my sweet, heroic parents.

It's been a personal story and one I hold near to my heart.

Basically, I wasn't ready to write about it.

I pray our bills get paid.  I pray we keep the lights on and food on the table... and I pray that when it's noon and all my Fancy, Working Friends are on their lunch breaks while I'm covered in breast milk and baby vomit that I won't take a single second for granted.  

Right now, every fiber in my being is screaming Ella's name, and that's a really beautiful thing.


Love and have a grown-up, iced latte on me,



*This topic is oh-so-tricky.  I know so, so many women who are terrific moms and work outside the home. They are teachers and childcare workers and doctors and customer service representatives, and their work is so so important.  I am forever grateful for the women who continue working so we can have access to the services we need.  This is just a post about my personal calling and how it came to fruition for the time being.  And if you're hoping to stay home with your babies, pray about it and stay true to your heart.

"The important thing is not to hurry- nothing good gets away."  John Steinbeck.







Monday, July 20, 2015

10 Ways I'm Planning to Enjoy my Pregnancy




     In my last post, I wrote about how hard it has been for me to really feel like I've gotten "into the swing of things" in terms of this glowing, magical pregnancy. ;)  I can honestly say, this has been the most stressful time for Tim and me in terms of home-projects, careers, and organizing our finances, and NONE of that has to do with my pregnancy.  It all just happened at once.  Because God trusts my threshold for sanity way way too much. Ha.  


     So, in true "elementary teacher fashion," I made a list.  A plan of attack, if you will.  

We've got roughly 9 weeks left, guys, and I'm planning to make these last weeks count- the funnest, most joyful, memorable weeks are yet to come.  Someone please remind me of this when we are having a 98 degree, Indian summer in September and I am 4 days past my due date, weeping openly.  Heehee...


1. Do "all the things."  


I've had several "errands" hanging over my head.  Most of them just require a five minute phone call. In less than 20 minutes, I could be free and clear and feeling SO MUCH BETTER.

I need to reschedule one of my pre-natal visits.  Noel is in desperate need of a trip to the vet (allergy attack / ear & skin issues),  I need to schedule a dentist appointment.  You know the drill.

How hard is it, guys?  How hard is it?

Jen Hatmaker wrote a post called "Stuck in the Doldrums: An Attack Plan," and her first suggestion was to "Make a List of Everything you are Behind on."  

She says, "Unbelievable the weight that rolls off when the Behind Pile starts to shrink."

Ain't that the TRUTH!?!?  

Um...I am supposed to be working on my Behind Pile and instead, I am blogging.  

Sh. Don't tell.  

2.  Make a list and throw it away.  (Kidding).  I've been so bad about getting ahead of myself during this pregnancy. You know...RESEARCH ALL THE THINGS.  I've obsessed over everything from diaper bags to breastfeeding positions to what to pack for the hospital.  

When I get too far ahead of myself, it makes me feel really overwhelmed.  (i.e. I could probably wait a few more weeks before I really have to get serious about picking a diaper bag).

     Also, I have ALL THESE LISTS.  For example, I worry that we will both panic when it's time to leave for the hospital and forget to like, feed the dogs or something.  I'm working on a small list to refer to when it's 3am and I'm having contractions, screaming in my living room (haha).  And then, I'm going to just tuck it away in my calendar and NOT THINK ABOUT IT until September (feed the dogs, take out the garbage, put some cleaner in both toilets). 

 HELLO CONTROL FREAK!

Also, it must be noted that on my list, I wrote, "Let dogs out to potty.....Let dogs back IN THE HOUSE."  Haha...cause when we're in crisis mode, I'm sure the BACK IN part will be easy to forget.  

3. Cuddle my husband. I just want to sit in our bed with his hand on my belly and snuggle the heck out of him!  That's actually one of the first things I picture when I think about enjoying pregnancy. 

Watching the clock until he gets home.  :)  

4. Make a playlist and listen to it regularly- I'd like to make a labor playlist- just something that will feel like home and possibly relax me.  I'd like to listen to it and pray at night so my brain automatically goes to "that place" when I plug it in on The Big Day.

FYI I am open to song suggestions.  

5. Date night!!! I want a full-blown date night.  We're talking dinner.  Some kind of entertainment & dessert.  I'm actually hoping we can squeeze in a few of these before Ella comes.

6. Intentional rest/read/ hobbies.  

     It is so easy to get distracted by so many meaningless "time fillers."  For me, that looks like too much Netflix, HGTV, and social media browsing.  I LOVE to read and craft, but it has been SO LONG since I have finished any sort of non-technology related hobby.  How sad is that?  I'd love to be intentional about working on some crafts and finishing a few "easy reads" before I make the long-term move to Baby Town.  

On that note, anybody need some peppers?  :)  I spent some time in my garden the other day, and I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that "I should be doing something else more worthwhile."  

Sigh. Trying to find the balance between productivity and intentional rest.  (It always comes back to the "Behind Pile," doesn't it?)  


7. Splurges- I would love to splurge on some baby and/or self-care things.  Ella needs Sophie the Giraffe and this unreasonably expensive baby book, and mama needs some Starbucks-for-no-reason.  This is certainly a time to celebrate.  I wanna say YES to a few small splurges.  At 31 weeks pregnant, they just feel reasonable, yea?*



     While we're on the subject of splurges, this is a brownie flavored cake pop from my friend and fellow-blogger, Courtney (owner of the small business, Bondbons). You'll find out more about this Queen of All The Everythings in a future post of mine. 

When I get to heaven, I think Jesus will be holding a bouquet full of her cake pops.  

Chocolate mint, please!  



8. Put Away Pinterest- Pinterest is KILLING ME, guys!  There are 58 different opinions out there and even MORE ways to flip yourself OUT!  I read a VERY graphic breastfeeding article the other day like...whoa!  I wanted to put my laptop in the freezer.  (Do you remember the episode of FRIENDS where Joey gets scared and puts his book in the freezer)?  :)

Scary Pinterest articles aren't doing me any favors right now, guys.  I love Pinterest just as much as the next gal, but Mama needs a break.

9. Walk it out/ Dog Park - I would love to get some sunshine with "The Girls" and head out for a walk around the neighborhood or our favorite nearby dog park (conveniently located near a Starbucks...two birds, one stone, guys).

10. Photographic Evidence - I'd really like to be more intentional about taking some pregnancy photos. I get extremely self-conscious about it because I worry that selfies are silly and my body just looks weird (actually, there are times when I feel really GREAT! My doctor and I are pleased with the amount of weight I've gained, and I feel like I'm carrying it mostly in my chest and belly- which is fine by me).  

     And then there are days when I'm like, "WHAT IS HAPPENING!?!?! I WILL NEVER BE NAKED AGAIN!!!!!"  If you've ever watched the show, Arrested Development, the thought of Tobias Funke as a "Never Nude" is probably running through your head. I am cracking up at the thought.  Some cut-off jean shorts should do the trick.  



On that note, This Ella Belly is in the house.  This was taken last Wednesday in the dressing room at The Gap Outlet.  Yes. I now own that tank top, in case you were wondering.  



Are you struggling to enjoy your season right now?  Has your new house got ya' down?  Is it raining everyday of your long-awaited beach vacation?  Tell me all about it?  What's the plan, guys.  

Let's put in the effort it sometimes takes to enjoy our seasons.  

*I feel incredibly silly/guilty writing this post knowing that there are many pregnant women out there who are scared, alone and don't have access to modern healthcare.  And I'm all, "I WANNA GET SOME STARBUCKS"  I'm working on reconciling that in my heart and in my brain. It's times like these when I pray for open eyes, hearts, and loose hands around our wallets.   I truly believe Jesus meets us where we are whether we are crawling through war-torn cities or weeping in our brand new SUV's.   I pray He brings hope, comfort and joy to all of us...in many different forms.

Love & thanks for sticking with me guys,  


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Do Unicorns Bite? A post about unmet expectations

Why, Helloooooo.  

    Have we talked on here about me being pregnant, yet?  Oh. my word.  I can't even remember.  I wrote a whole heck of a lot about me NOT being pregnant and then my body was apparently reading my blog...because one post was all it took and then lickety split...BABY.  

It's a girl.  We are naming her Ella Marie.  

We are thrilled.  

     Tim is so incredibly lovesick.  Spent.  Over.  He is so so in love with our girl. He is going to be SUCH a good "girl" dad.  He truly has the heart for it.  Tough and Tender.  Bless him. 

 I'm fully prepared to be the "third wheel" for the rest of my life. ;)  

I wanted to post 58 selfies of me standing all dainty in front of a chalkboard. 

I wanted to tell you All the Things.  

     But I decided to just get a million things down and then choose what seemed most important.  How pretentious does THAT sound? 

 THIS IS THE WRITING THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT! ;) 

The other day, I confided in a few of my friends that I have not really "enjoyed" this pregnancy. 

Hear me now. 

     Eight months ago, if I would have read a post from a pregnant blogger saying she wasn't "enjoying" her pregnancy, I would have promptly unfollowed her and then broken every single window in my house.  Not kidding. 

     If you are reading this, and you want to break the windows...just know...this is a post about the sin in MY heart.  Not yours.  You have every right to be mad.  Because I am pretty much a terrible person, and you, my friend, are a peach.  

     Our lives this year have pretty much been chaos. There have been days when my pregnancy has kind of been a (happy) afterthought.*  We SIMULTANEOUSLY tackled lots of home improvements (which have been great), but they took longer than we expected. I spent weeks feeling so tired and sick, climbing AROUND our oven in the dining room and making coffee on my living room end table.  

OUR KITCHEN CEILING WILL NOT STOP LEAKING. It. will.not.stop. 

Two of our cars are currently un-drivable.  (Is that a word)? #brokenradiator  #powersteering

     We unhooked our old heat/AC unit with the intention of replacing it and the weather heated up FAST. After several cancellations from the guy we hired to hook up the new one, we spent almost all of June with NO AC.  Ohio temps. reached the mid 90's just FYI.  

I feel like hell is a kitchen with no air conditioning and your only job is to keep microwaving Chinese food. 

It was that bad.  

     And we've faced some other huge, really scary/hard obstacles that I'm not going to share here (they are not health/baby/marriage related). 

   I try really hard not to share the stories that aren't mine to share.  And I sure as shoot ain't asking for permission to tell this one. Ha. Maybe a story for another day, yea?

But right now, we are facing The Impossible.  It's so fun! ;) 

     I knew getting pregnant would not "fix all the things," but...come on, guys.  Part of me really did think that getting pregnant would do the trick. 

 I would be kind.  I would be gracious.  I would lose every jealous bone in my body.  

     In so many ways, our baby has brought peace and joy and healing...especially in our marriage.  This has been a really sweet season for us. One that I wish I could write about in more detail. Again.  Maybe someday. 

In other ways, it has just heightened all my badness.  

Anxiety.  JEALOUSY.  Fear.  

     In the past, I've written about unicorns. I've said it once and I'll say it again.  Whenever I get All The Good Things, I feel like it's God's way of sending  a unicorn.  

And it makes me incredibly ANXIOUS at times.  In this little scenario, Baby=unicorn, you feel me? 

God was like, "Here.  Here is this unicorn and it is awesome."  

And I am like, "Do unicorns carry diseases?  How long do they live?  Do unicorns BITE!?!?!" 

(For the record, I'm not super worried about getting bitten by my baby..ha).  

Maybe it should read more like, "WILL MY UNICORN GET EATEN BY A BEAR?"

(Because I am totally afraid of my baby getting eaten by a wild animal.  HOW DO YOU PEOPLE GO CAMPING? HOW DO YOU DO IT?) 

And God is like, "I will take care of the unicorn. YOU JUST ENJOY THE UNICORN." 

But, it's still hard.  

Is this the part I should have erased? I feel like I should have erased all that. ^^^

Any post that mentions unicorns is a good post, in my book.  

Oh, that's right. Also. I am jealous. 

And it is stupid. 

Oh, you want examples of my badness?  In the past, I have felt jealous because...

People felt comfortable sharing their news earlier than we did (we waited until 12+ weeks for work, church and social media).  

People found out gender sooner than we did.  

People's bellies are cuter/smaller/bigger/rounder than mine.  

Their nurseries are finished already.  

Their ultrasound pics were clearer.  

Shall I go on?  

     All this to say...

     I decided to tackle planting a garden this summer...while pregnant.  I purchased everything and got it unloaded and was like..."I really don't have the energy to do this anymore."  Ha.  

But...garden stuff is expensive and I felt too guilty just leaving everything to rot in the sun and die. 

So I prayed.  And I tilled (by hand) and I dug and I planted.  

I had every intention of leaving a large, blank space for seeds.  SEEDS!  

Aaaaannnnnd the seed planting didn't happen. 

So I would wade through the tall, itchy grass and fight with the hose and dwell in my own discontent.  

Weeds.  Dry dirt.  Barren land.  

And the seed-planting would hang over my head.  Like a mid-term paper I hadn't written yet.  

And one day, God said my name.  

I can always tell He Means Business when he reaches out with those two, abrupt syllables.

"Holly."  

...

"When are you going to get to the point where ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?"

It is a good question...one I don't really have an answer for. 

So.  I relent.  

"Alright, already." 

Oh and isn't that agreement just so full of grace and gratitude?  

"Alright, already." 

Yes. There you have it.  The most humble-sounding surrender ever. 

But it is a surrender nonetheless. 

So...maybe it counts?    

Love and this is not the year for carrots, 


* A couple things...by "happy afterthought" I mean...you unpack your newly remodeled kitchen with no air conditioning in the house and you get in bed, sweaty and exhausted and finally think, "Oh. Hooray. I forgot I was pregnant!"  I really do love being pregnant and we are so so so fortunate for our daughter's excellent health.  I am looking for some practical ways to be able to say I've enjoyed being pregnant.  I don't want to take this time for granted.  Please don't misunderstand anything I've written above.  Ella- if you are reading this in the year is 2030...I love you dearly.  You were my dream come true.  Now get off the internet, and go play outside.  ;)