Sunrises, Shade, and Swim Diapers: Beachin’ with Baby

Tap, tap.

Is this thing on?

Y’all, I have to admit something.

I thought once Luke grew out of his newborn stage that I would be ALL UP IN THE BLOG. I suddenly would have way more free (well, hands-free) time, so many thoughts to share, and, as the Dixie Chicks sang, Wiiide Opppeeen Spaaaccceeessss!

Well, that hasn’t exactly been the case.

As our sweet baby boy has grown, he wakes up as the Energizer Bunny a little bit more every day. Listen. I’m so grateful he is so healthy.  Once we passed that “fourth trimester,” the time, it really does fly. He’s seven months this week, and while that does hurt this mama’s heart a wee bit, I am just so thankful he’s growing and, by all accounts, thriving. I love watching him explore and discover something new every day. He is the definition of precious, curious, active, unintentionally funny, and WIGGLE WORM. He has brought my husband and me endless joy.

Just not said hands-free time, my thoughts are a little scatter-brained, and not a wide open space to be found.

(Except our living room floor which has been sans coffee table due to the tiny human who I think is part-monkey.)

(Just watch out for the board books, squeaky toys, singing train, stuffed animals, and puppets).

(He still hasn’t learned to clean up after himself after seven months).

While he’s napping in his crib (which, for the record, I still feel like I deserve a SHINY RIBBON every time this successfully happens), I thought I’d revisit this little memory-keeping space.

Oh, I could do something more productive.

Clean the bathrooms.
Sweep the floors.
Watch last week’s Nashville. (#TeamDeacon).

But I’ve chosen to invest in the blog, and I know my husband will be ever so appreciative.

So, I thought I’d share some baby beach tips we learned on our recent trip. As the date was getting closer, I was seeing RED FLAGS. However, we really had a wonderful trip, and was even more surprised how well he did in the car. We only stopped twice on the way down, and just once on the way back (winning!).

For the days and weeks leading up to our Great Voyage to the Gulf, I googled and pinterest…ed until I think I read every blog offering advice for traveling with an infant to the beach. Some were helpful (a baby pool!), and some we realized weren’t for us in a manner of 3.05 seconds (a baby tent).

In no particular order, here’s what worked for us both in the car and on the sand:

1. A Baby Fan

While Luke is generally a happy baby, he considers the car seat his arch-nemesis.  That’s not too big of a deal on a fifteen-minute drive to church, but on an eight hour drive spanning three states? HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. Other than the whole restraint thing, we think one reason he wasn’t a fan was because he gets so hot in it. So we bought this baby fan and I think it chilled him out a little (pun totally intended).

2. Sit in the Back

This was the one I was dreading the most because I haaate riding in the backseat on a long trip (I know, #firstworldproblems). But, I think our trip would’ve felt much longer if I didn’t. I could play with him, pat him to calm him down, distract him with a squeaky toy, and he just knew I was there.

3. iPad in the Car (YEP).

Don’t go calling the American Academy of Pediatrics on me. We will only do this for long trips, but it was a lifesaver. During a meltdown one day on the ride home from church, while being stuck in traffic, Brett and I were feeling pretty desperate. So, I pull out my iPhone and pulled up an Elmo video from YouTube. And all of the sudden, the demons left my child, and he went back to being sweet angel baby. Well, what do you think we did before our trip? We bought the “Best of Elmo” for $10 on iTunes, downloaded it on the iPad, Brett “McGuyver’d” it with binder clips and twine, and we were set for our trip. He only watched it probably about an hour total or so each way, but DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG AN HOUR IS WITH A HAPPY BABY? A lot faster than one with a baby that hates the world (even if I know the words to every song Elmo has ever sang).

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4. Ground Floor Unit

Brett knows I have one requirement for our stay on the beach. Our room must be beachfront. If I have to drive or walk across the street to get to the Gulf, I’d rather just stay home. I know, that is totally snobby, but it’s just how it is. I now have a new one: a ground floor (at least while he’s little). I cannot even tell you how much easier it was to just walk out to the beach from our patio. We could leave gear on the patio without hauling up and down stairs, easily go to the room for a quick diaper change or break, and it just saved so much headache. Do it if you can! I promise your view will still be better than fantastic.

5. Rent a Crib

This one may just be tailored for our sensitive sleeper, but we knew our Pack N’ Play wasn’t going to cut it for our baby boy to sleep in every night. Great to play in, but not so comfy to sleep in. We never have “co-sleeped” during the night, so that was out. So we rented a crib for a small fee and it was worth every dollar. I’d write a check for a few good nights of sleep every time. I was able to enjoy gorgeous sunrises a lot more with a few hours of consecutive sleep (key words being CONSECUTIVE).

6. Inflatable Baby Pool

One of Brett’s coworkers was kind enough to loan us their shade tent for Luke to sit in on the beach. Well, after one attempt at that, we knew it wasn’t for him (though for many babies, it would be). He couldn’t see us, and though it was shaded, it was hot since the breeze was blocked. So our plan B was using the $4 inflatable baby pool we bought at WalMart on clearance, and he was so much happier. He could see everything, and feel the sea breeze his Mama loves. Put a few toys in there, and he was a happy crab (if there was ever such a thing) for a little while at a time.

7. Sun Protection

It was just our luck that when we got to the beach, we discovered that all of Luke’s sweet, floppy beach hats were just a tick too small (thanks to my genes for the big noggin’…). Thankfully, we had a pretty adorable crab cap that fit perfect and he generally kept on. So, hats of course, swim shirts, and baby sunscreen. You know what’s not fun? Putting on baby sunscreen on a baby’s face. It’s similar to herding cats, except more hissing is involved. (Also, I had read that swim diapers only hold, ahem, dirty diapers and not wet. So, he was in regular diapers on the beach.) (I learned this was true when walking back to our room holding Luke, and feeling a warm stream down my swim cover and legs. This gives me great comfort to know that the pool is completely clear of any bodily fluids, I’m sure).

8. Find a Routine

Our first day was the rude awakening that HEY, YOUR BEACH DAYS HAVE DRASTICALLY CHANGED. Part of this has to do with him hating the baby tent that I mentioned, and that made him pretty grumpy. So after I had been down there ten minutes, we went back to the room, and then Brett gave me beach time that afternoon by myself (which, I have to admit, was guilt-free and LOVELY). The next day though, we switched gears with the baby pool and learned that once he played in there for a few, a beach walk and the sound of the waves led to a nap under the beach umbrella. It was different than years past, but no less enjoyable (in fact, a lot more sweeter).

9. Pack Essentials

My husband laughs (and slightly grimaces… or maybe that’s the other way around) at my packing when we go on a trip. I pack anything I can that we might need. Laundry detergent, dryer sheets, trash bags, ziplocks, all the bath products, even a couple rolls of TOILET PAPER (There are certain things that you just need to have your brand, you understand). He likes to remind me that we’re not visiting a remote island, rather just near the Florida/Alabama line where a Publix is a mile away. So, basically I’m saying don’t be like me, pack less. (I did just pack a few diapers and bought a pack down there). (But I totally used a coupon). (#SorryNotSorry)

10. Set Up a Tip Jar

If you have a cute baby, your beach set-up will be a destination on just about everyone’s beach walks. We should have had a sign that said, “Stop and See: $1, Picture $2.”

But really, could you blame them?

We could have made a fortune!

We are thankful God blessed us with that little crab a little more every day.

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When Revival Happens in the Parking Lot

“I’m feeling adventurous this morning!”

Those words came out of my mouth as we passed by our street while chasing down bad guys.

Actually, I said those words as we passed by our street to look for more yard sale signs. At the same time, the baby just woke up from a nap and was teetering on the fine line between fussy and giggly.

When you become a parent, your definition of adventure changes DRASTICALLY.

This was living, y’all.

We passed a few more streets and drove around a large neighborhood before calling it a bargain hunting day, and we turned back on to Highway 70 heading towards home.

We were laughing along to the radio when we heard it.

CLICKETY CLICK CLICKETY CLICK CLICKETY CLICK.

Uh-oh.

I didn’t mean that kind of adventurous.

Fellowship Baptist Church was just on the right, so my sweet husband pulled in and parked. He went to the hood, I went to get the baby out of the car seat, and then we saw it… a cord thing dangling on the pavement.

(I later learned that it’s called a belt).

(I did not know cars had belts).

(Maybe it makes the engine’s waist look smaller).

Thankfully, we weren’t far from home and my parents live close by, so they were on their way to come get us (thanks again, Mom and Dad!). It was also a low humidity morning in August in the South, which that alone is a miracle in itself.

But something really cool happened in that church parking lot.

While we waited for a few minutes, two different people – complete strangers – pulled in and asked if there was any way they could help. One of them was even getting his phone out for us to use to call loved ones if we needed it.

They didn’t know us, and I’m sure they were in the midst of a busy Saturday morning.

(In fact, one told us he was on his way to Antioch to visit his sister).

Yet, they made time. They made a choice. They saw a young family with the car hood up in an empty parking lot and stopped. They could’ve kept driving and gone along with their day, as many did, but they didn’t.

Would I have stopped?

I don’t really want to answer that question because, well, I know the answer.

I would have kept driving.

Oh, I would have made myself feel better by knowing that I have no car expertise at all to offer (see belt insight above), but I learned something today. I could offer my phone to make a call, I could offer to drive down to the Dollar General down the street and buy a cold drink, but the most and best I could offer is to let them know I care.

Those two gentlemen did that today.

In a world where people get shot in church, in movies, and we cringe to hear where next, those two guys taught us that there are still good people.

Let’s not be the Priest or Levite looking the other way when others need help.

Let’s be the Good Samaritan.

Let’s be the good.

Despite our good intentions, I think we sometimes make this whole church thing a whole lot more complicated than it has to be.

It doesn’t take a fancy building.

It doesn’t take committee meetings.

It doesn’t take bright lights, a choir robe, a smoke machine, a wooden pew, or a coffee bar.

It doesn’t even have to take money.

All it takes is a kind heart to shine the light of Jesus to the world.

Before we found ourselves in that parking lot, we passed that sweet little church on our yard sale excursion. I remarked that their sign was advertising a revival.

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Revival? I believe we just had it.

(Fun fact: We received a check in the mail this past week that we weren’t expecting. It more than covered the complete cost of the repair to the car. Thanks, God. I think you wanted me to learn a lesson this week. Lesson learned).

From an Apple on My Desk to the Apple of My Eye

Dear Mrs. S,

Let me introduce myself. My name is Luke’s Mom. I go by another name too, but it’s all I’m seemed to be known by now, not that I’m complaining.

I haven’t been around long, but it’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t exist.

You, however, have been around for over four years now. Really, it’s been over five years if you count that first year when you went by Miss G.

(You’re still trying to not go into the fetal position when you think that those kids that remember you as that are now seventh graders).

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be you. An elementary school teacher with an endless supply of Expo markers, boxes of Crayola crayons in a bright-colored tub, your own reading rug and rocking chair to read stories to children and change your voice to different characters, your own bulletin boards to decorate, your own class to lead down the hallway while having eyes on the back of your head, and even your own papers to grade with your multi-colored pens.

And, thank the Lord, I got to be you these past few years and it’s been a great joy of my life. You have met friends that will be lifelong, taught students who will change the world, and grown into a profession that’s become a passion.

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But that little girl you were wanted to be something even more than the teacher with the polka-dot dress and colorful lanyard.

You wanted to be a Mommy.

A Mama who was able to stay at home.

We’re going through a transition right now, sister. One you’ve prayed would arrive and wondered if God would grant the desires of your heart. And praise Him, He did! One where your husband crunched numbers and you saved up together to allow my dream of staying home to happen. And praise Him again, it has!

It’s a beautiful and joyful transition.

But can I let you in on a little secret?

It’s also a little bittersweet, too.

Don’t you think I’m complaining. I am so grateful to be here and to see you step away for a while.

While you have some friends that don’t understand why you would want to, you have many friends who would love to be at home, but can’t for their own reasons right now. It doesn’t make me any better of a mom and them any less of one.

(On a side note, I will guard what I say on social media. Because you know what a tired teacher who is also the mama to a sweet baby doesn’t want to hear? How tired I am. Newsflash: So are they, but they have to get up in the morning and wear dress pants. You can stay in pajamas).

Much like teaching, there’s nothing that can prepare you to be a mom until you actually are one. College courses and labor classes are one in the same. Helpful information, but once you hold that baby, much like once you stand in front of that first class, you realize you really know nothing.

But that teaching thing? You felt like you were (finally) getting into your groove.

And don’t think I haven’t noticed you.

The school supply sales are full throttle, and it’s all you can do to not pick up a few boxes of Crayola (for those kids who inevitably bring in RoseArt), a few extra Elmer’s gluesticks, and some bulletin board border for a fresh start.

On Sunday morning? When the pastor asked for all the teachers to stand so they could be prayed over? Well, you felt a little out-of-place as you remained sitting (until you bolted for that colleague down the aisle to pray over her. I know that was all you).

You’ve been seeing all sorts of ideas on Pinterest that make your teaching imagination come alive with cross-curricular activities, how you’d design your classroom this year, and all the little stations you’d have set up your Open House next Friday night.

You, in a cruel twist of fate, are even having school dreams again.

You’ve visited that second home of yours of the past five years a few times with friends as they set up their rooms and decorate their doors, and you’ve felt that twinge of, “Am I doing the right thing?”

I’m here to assure you.

You are.

God has made it clear that you are by how He’s provided when it didn’t make sense. He’s had this laid on your heart as long as you can remember.  You didn’t dream of the wedding and the dress, you dreamed of the husband and the family you’d hopefully have.

You can think back to when you were a very little girl and remember eating a Happy Meal with your Mom at McDonald’s on a random Monday, reading Bible stories on her bed, and taking walks around the block.

I want that too.

.

You see, I’m a little selfish. I want to see all the “firsts,” I want to be the one that calms Luke down when he cries in the middle of the day, the one who walks countless laps as he finally falls asleep on my shoulder, and the one who even changes those dirty diapers.

(Well, Daddy can do that too as he feels led).

It’s true, you loved seeing your name outside that classroom door, but one day you’ll see it again. There will be other classes for you to love, but there will never be this time of my life or his life again.

You knew the moment you found out I’d come around that you, Mrs. S., didn’t stand a chance.

Home is where I’m supposed to be.

You aren’t going too far though, as you tutor some sweet kiddos once school cranks up. So, don’t go throwing away those flashcards and file folder games just yet. You’ll get to keep your second love close to your heart, just on a much smaller scale.

Oh, and that darling son of yours? Well, he’s going to need that creativity you loved using in your classroom. Show him the shapes as you build castles with blocks. Build a fort and stack it with books and a flashlight. Teach him the alphabet with a silly song. Practice your numbers with hopscotch and sidewalk chalk. Read one of your favorite books with a puppet on your arm.

You used to pray every morning on your short drive to work for many things, but you’d always include, “Let me be a light to my students and coworkers in my classroom and hallways.”

I promise to carry that light in this new phase of our lives together, even if it’s just the living room and hallway to the bedroom.

Thanks for all the wonderful memories, Mrs. S. It’s with a little tear in my eye but a smile in my heart to tell you that I promise to make the most special ones while you’re away.

– Luke’s Mom

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Goodbye Swaddlers and Hello Baby Gate

Well, to my tens of readers, I’m so sorry I haven’t written a blog in a sweet forever.

(Although, I did do a little bit of writing for my church’s website if you missed it. And so did Brett).

You see, I’ve completed the fourth trimester.

And can I say? It’s been wonderful, joyous, funny, amazing, miraculous, and well, a little bit of a humdinger.

I used to laugh at all those who’d say that there was a fourth trimester. “Oh, you dramatic, tired mamas… there is no such thing as a fourth trimester. Go sleep when the baby sleeps.”

OH, BUT THERE IS, AND THAT ADVICE IS FLAT-OUT QUAINT.

Make no mistake though, just like the three trimesters of pregnancy, it really is a miracle. To see our baby boy change every single day and become a little bit more aware of the world around him has made this mama’s heart glow.

However, as what will come as a shock to approximately zero people, it hasn’t been without its share of challenges too.

And since I not only have zero motivation, I’m not sure I have enough alert brain cells to perform the task of writing coherent paragraphs with transitions, so while he’s napping on me, here’s a list of all the highs, lows, and learning adventures of the past four months with our darling boy.

(I also always feel the need to add that any ‘complaints’ on here are meant totally in jest. We are so thankful to have any of these experiences because it means we have our baby boy. God gave us the most precious gift. I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. I’m just documenting for when he’s five and probably still fighting sleep and remembering YOU SURVIVED.)

1. I’ve already talked about how nursing was something I had severely underestimated. Now that we’ve made it over that bump (or two bumps… sorry, I couldn’t help it), here’s what just baffles my mind: Babies have to be taught on how to go to sleep. I know Luke is tired, he knows he’s tired, but often times he will be generally fussy for a half hour or so until he falls asleep. I don’t understand. JUST GO TO SLEEP, DARLING.

(I will add that the past couple of nights, he’s only awoken once which is a streak in my book. He’ll probably perfect it right before teething starts).

(I will also add that I’m very lucky that I can stay in my pajamas most days if I have to. I know how lucky I am).

(But TAUGHT TO GO TO SLEEP? Mind-boggling).

2. And that sweet baby doesn’t want to be rocked, nope. We must walk around and around until he drifts off. All of these parenting articles say, “Put your baby to bed awake but drowsy.Y’all, that’s hilarious. Because when that happens, we are a rolling machine until we are Niagra Falls from the tears.

3. And Mama can’t take the tears. Just can’t handle “Cry It Out.”

4. But then, he falls asleep on my shoulder as I’m softly singing, “You are my sunshine…” and I couldn’t care less how many steps I took or how long I walked. It’s THE BEST.

5. Before I end the sleeping diatribe that this has become, Luke is still in the bassinet in our bedroom. This is not because I’m emotionally attached to him being in there (I promise, I’m ready to not tiptoe to go to the bathroom). It’s just he’s still inconsistent at night, and his nursery is upstairs. And that’s a lot of walking up and down in the middle of the night. We are going to attempt the transition this weekend though and hopefully he will realize his crib is a cozy, glorious place of SLEEP.

6. We are so grateful for a healthy baby. His worst ‘problem’ has been a little bit of “cradle cap.” So all this talk about sleep is so not a biggie, we know we are so blessed.

7. I didn’t really have any cravings while pregnant. Just liked my usual stuff. But since he’s been born? I’ll take peach tea, cherry slushes, and an ice cream sandwich please.

8. (Preferably all three, everyday).

9. (I’m sure that’s not at all related to THE HEAT).

10. Those first few weeks were so sweet as we were getting to know our baby boy, but I wouldn’t go back. I love looking at the pictures, but those were some uncertain times of “WHAT ARE WE DOING.” (Not that we still don’t have that).

11. Really, to all mamas who have a newborn (or those who are expecting), I know you’re overwhelmed. You have no idea what his cries mean, you have no idea what day of the week it is because his days and nights are mixed up, and you feel guilty that you’re not enjoying every moment.

12. Can I give you permission to not enjoy all the moments? BECAUSE IT’S OKAY. Those are some rough days at first. Amazing and precious? Yes, but overwhelming mostly.

13. It (obviously) gets better. Once you get past that first month or so, you will fall into a schedule and you suddenly have an intuition when he’s hungry, sleepy, or just grumpy. Your body adjusts to not as much sleep, but you get more too. Hang in there, mama. My only piece of advice is to take pictures. I love looking at how he’s changed.

14. The day Luke could hold his head up on his own was a game-changer. We joke we can carry him around like a sack of potatoes now.

15. We also love how more interactive he’s becoming everyday. When I say his name and he turns and smiles, MELTED. His giggles are better than the sound of the waves, and his dimples make his mama’s knees weak. Bath time is always the best, bubbly adventure. He’s generally a happy baby and he just brings so much joy. He even smiles as he spits up. (Me, not so much…)

16. I’m so thankful for this time of our lives when I can stay at home with him. I know mamas who have to do it (and I have dear friends bracing for it), and I would if we had to, but I’d be heartsick every time I left daycare in the mornings.

17. The whole, “You’ll love your husband in a whole new way,” is so true. At least it is for me.

18. Seriously, Brett is the best Daddy (next to mine, of course). He gives me a break the moment he walks in the door and doesn’t complain about it, usually holds him during dinner if we need to because he knows I probably did every time I ate earlier in the day, gets on the floor to try to teach him to crawl, loves to make him smile and giggle, wraps him in his towel after every bath, and walks him to sleep every night. I love watching their relationship continue to grow.

19. I told myself I wouldn’t before he arrived, but y’all I can’t help but post a picture (or two…) of our sweet baby boy just about daily. I’m totally that Mom. Not that I’m biased, but HE’S JUST SO CUTE.

20. And I’m totally #sorrynotsorry about it too.

So while this fourth trimester is over, I’m thankful for it all and will look back on it fondly, but I won’t miss it.  My house won’t either, as vacuuming the living room rug is now a serious accomplishment.

Now that our sweet baby is giggly and smiley and happy so much? Well, now this. This I’ll miss.

Good thing I’ll have approximately 4,324 pictures to remember it by.

We love you with every single piece of our heart, baby boy. Life is a whole lot sweeter with you in it.

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What Mamahood Means

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Mamahood means you discover a love that you’ve never known.

Mamahood means you value your marriage more than ever before.

Mamahood means you fall more in love with your supportive husband every day.

Mamahood means your definition of “sleeping in” is now whenever you sleep past sunrise.

Mamahood means that even though you’re tired, you’d make that trade every time.

Mamahood means you pray a little more every day.

Mamahood means you are in even more awe that God sent His only Son to die for you.

Mamahood means you have a whole new perspective of God’s great love.

Mamahood means you can shower, start a load of laundry, and prepare a sandwich all within a ten minute window.

Mamahood means you wince more than you used to when there is any news story involving the death or endangerment of a child.

Mamahood means you trade in your coffee table for a bouncy seat and swing.

Mamahood means you give yourself permission to have a dirty house because loving on your baby is more important.

Mamahood means you actually enjoy cleaning your house when the baby learns to nap somewhere other than your arms.

Mamahood means you’ll forever wish you had whatever ailment your child may have, even if it’s only the hiccups.

Mamahood means you no longer have a need for an alarm clock because you’ll hear every little coo, grunt, and snore while your sweet husband snoozes away.

Mamahood means your Saturday mornings shift from sleep to strollers.

Mamahood means you take pride in the simplest accomplishments, like when your child finally hits the rattle in his bouncy seat.

Mamahood means you plan to leave about fifteen minutes earlier than you normally would’ve, knowing that you won’t actually leave fifteen minutes earlier, but hopefully on time.

Mamahood means you are compelled to take at least one picture everyday because he looks a tiny bit more grown every morning.

Mamahood means you resist posting all the pictures you do take.

Mamahood means you actually print out your pictures now.

Mamahood means you value your friendships with the ladies in your life more than before.

Mamahood means you gain a whole new outlook on your own mother and how well she loved you your whole life.

Mamahood means you walk past the Women’s Dept. and straight to the baby section without a thought.

Mamahood means the dishwasher runs a little more often because eating in is not only more affordable, but more comforting when your little family is under the roof of your home after a long day .

Mamahood means you savor those nights you do go out to eat because they’re a little fewer and farther between.

Mamahood means you love deeper.

Mamahood means you smile wider.

Mamahood means you laugh harder.

Mamahood means your house turns into even more of a home.

Mamahood means you wonder how you lived without your little blessing all these years.

I Might Qualify As A Fixer-Upper

Mom.

Mama.

Mommy.

Mother.

It still hasn’t sunk in that all of the above are, you know, ME.

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(Maybe that’s because the only thing Luke says when he sees me is, “MIIIILLLKKKKKK.”)

(He doesn’t actually express that in words, of course).

(But his eyes and general WAILING let me know that’s what’s on his mind).

(I got my mind on my milk, my milk on my mind…)

(I’m so sorry, I COULDN’T HELP IT).

Over a month later, I’m still in awe that this baby boy is ours. He is beautiful, healthy, alert, and looks just like his Daddy. What’s funny is he looks just like his Daddy like his Daddy looks now. Not his Daddy’s baby pictures (nor mine).

So I guess you could really say he looks like Luke.

I thought I’d take a minute while he is sleeping on my chest to document this early stage of motherhood. And if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know I adore a list. This is so I don’t have to string together actual paragraphs and think of meaningful transitions.

(The baby book is upstairs, so this is much easier).

(The actual baby book may get completed by 2019).

(#lifegoals)

Now, there’s going to be snark because HAVE WE MET, but please understand that I couldn’t love my baby boy more or be more thankful. I’ve said it before, but I have many friends who’d love to be a sleep-deprived milking machine, and I think of them at 4 a.m. and thank God for this cuddly blessing.

So with that said, in no particular order, some observations:

1. QUICK. Name the most common piece of advice most expecting mamas receive.

All together now:

“SLEEP WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS!”

Y’all, that’s hilarious. Because let me break that down.

Once he figured out that the bassinet is indeed not a torture device (thanks to the best invention ever, Swaddle Me blankets), this is totally true. As soon as I place him in it, I tiptoe to my bed and ZONKED. A mariachi band could play and I wouldn’t hear it, but he makes one little “cooo” and it might as well be an alarm clock.

However, during the daytime, Luke’s only place he’ll sleep is on me (or his Daddy when he’s home). Now, sometimes I catch a few winks during that time, but it’s just that. Because if he so much blinks too hard, I’m awake and making sure he hasn’t moved an inch. Oh, and he snores like his Daddy does sometimes, which sounds similar to a piece of farming equipment

A really, really cute John Deere, but a tractor nonetheless.

So instead of sleeping, I do my best to soak in these sweet moments of the baby snores, the arms curled up, his back arching up and down with every breath he takes, and being ever so content in his Mama’s arms.

The sleep will come later.

Probably in 2033.

2. Speaking of sleep deprivation, a few days ago Brett was holding him and he was bouncing all around his pacifier, but not actually taking it.

(Side note: I am PRO PACI and have no qualms about it. Thankfully, Luke doesn’t seem completely addicted to it, but if it happens, it brought some peace in the valley if you will and we’ll deal with breaking him of it later. #sorrynotsorry)

The following conversation then occurred:

Me: “You know, this is how people are with God. He stays in one place, and we run all around Him wondering where He is, when He never left.”
Brett: “Did you just compare God to a pacifier?”
Me: “Of course no– well, it made sense in my head and I’M TIRED.”

Pastors, feel free to use that analogy in future sermons.

3. I am so thankful for Brett. Honestly, I’ve wondered how in the world single moms do it and I’ve gained a lot of respect for them. He lets me sleep on the weekends, takes over when he gets home from work, encourages me, thanks me for doing the simplest tasks, understands why the house is messy and the laundry is untouched, and acts like a frozen meal is gourmet.

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Luke is one lucky little boy.

4. The biggest thing I underestimated about motherhood is nursing. I knew I’d be tired and housework would go on the backburner for a while, but I didn’t realize how much time nursing would involve. Now, I am extremely thankful to be able to do it. That was one of my big worries before he arrived — if I would be able to. Not only does it save us money, but it’s also the healthiest choice for our baby boy (not that there’s a thing wrong with formula!).

But when you’re in childbirth class and they say babies nurse every 2-3 hours, that doesn’t sound like too much.

Until baby is here and you nursed him at 2:00, finished at about 2:30, and then 4:00 rolls around and baby boy is letting you know LOUD AND CLEAR that it’s dinnertime. Again.

Thankfully, it has been easier as time has gone on and more habitual. It’s also a huge relief to know he gained weight because during the time between doctor visits, I kept wondering, “IS HE EVEN EATING ENOUGH?”

(His dirty diapers should have told me that he was eating like a champ).

5. Speaking of dirty diapers, one of the most often heard statements around here lately is, “Babies are gross.” We say it with a smile or a laugh (usually), but as much as I knew it was going to happen, nothing will prepare you for projectile fill-in-the-blank.

Nothing.

6. The most helpless feeling ever is when you’re driving solo and baby is sobbing in the back. Yes, I know he’s fine and yes, there are far worse problems, but that is no fun.

Even Pharrell’s “Happy” didn’t help, despite my awesome singing and choreography from the driver’s seat.

7. I can pretty much recite to you HGTV’s daytime programming.  Since Luke pretty much has to be held at all times (trust me, I want him to love the swing, but he can only last a few minutes), the remote is our best friend. I keep looking around the house and think, “Now if we knocked that wall down…”

That’s what happens when you consider Chip & Joanna Gaines from “Fixer Upper” to be close, personal friends. 

8. I am starting to become convinced that babies have a sixth sense.

What is that, you ask?

When you have heated up your meal, prepared a sandwich, etc. and you sit down to eat said food.

It’s just a ticking time bomb for tears.

You become a one-armed eating machine!

9. My last observation is one that I know I will always remember the most. Despite the dark circles on all three of us at times, there is no doubt about this: The laughs are louder, the smiles are wider, and the love is deeper in this household. There is joy in the simplest of moments. Bath time is always a silly adventure, early morning cuddles with Daddy before work are treasures, and rubbing those sweet baby rolls that are beginning to form on those thighs is the stuff life is made of.

I am so grateful to see every memory, even the cries. Luke will be six-weeks old this weekend, and while I completely respect and understand those who choose to go back to work (and I know for many there is no choice), it would break my heart to leave him for hours each day, even being in good hands. We have become partners-in-crime.

You might be thinking that no crime has occurred.

But you haven’t changed one of his diapers.

We love you, sweet baby boy.

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(All the above photos are by the fabulous Leila Hunt Photography).

A (LONG) Labor of Love

Something’s different since I last wrote a blog.

The weather’s warmer.

My toes are a pretty shade of pink.

I switched purses.

Oh, and I HAD A BABY.

That’s right, Luke Adam made his grand arrival a few days ago and our world hasn’t and won’t ever be the same. He is a beautiful, alert, cuddly baby boy and while we are still majorly adjusting to this human we brought home from the hospital, it’s hard to imagine our lives without him now.

Everyone told me that it’s a whole new level of love, and to say they were right, well, I’ll take “Understatement of the Century for $800, Alex.”

Since it’s just been a few days since our hospital stay, I wanted to document our story of how our sweet son arrived.

Please know this will not be all lovey-dovey.

Because while the experience as a whole is completely miraculous, amazing, and totally awe-inspiring, and I’m entirely grateful for it, if you don’t have a sense of humor about it, you will die.

Certainly not literally I hope, but you’ll feel like it.

(I would know, see #21).

Before I start my list, two tidbits:

1. How did women (and the family) wait hours in the hospital without smartphones? I mean, I’m not talking about in the pioneer days, I’m talking about like in 2002.

2. My church’s minister on-call for hospital visits that week was our campus pastor at another location. Since I never go to that location, he really doesn’t know me other than my face. He came in while I was in labor (and in a happy state at the time) and asked, “Lucy, how are you feeling?”

I thought surely I had misunderstood. I was on some good drugs at that point, ya know.

A few minutes later, he asked to lead us in a prayer. So everyone gathered around me and he led a very sweet prayer, but included the line, “Please help Lucy…”

Nope. He definitely said Lucy.

He had the best intentions, and we all laughed about it as he left, but somewhere around the world, Lucy had a wonderful labor and delivery.

Now, onto mine:

1. Thursday, March 19th, was our D-DAY (what I referred to as our due date) (I mean, it was not a disastrous event to dread, but let’s not pretend that either method of child leaving the womb are exactly PLEASANT).

2. That very morning, I happened to wake up at about 4:50 a.m. with sharp pains in my lower stomach/back area that would last a few seconds, go away for a few minutes, and then repeat.

3. This lasted for about four hours every seven minutes or so before my husband told me to call the doctor.  I had convinced myself that this wasn’t any sign of labor DESPITE BEING FORTY WEEKS PREGNANT. I thought it might be from eating Mexican the night before.

4. (Note to self, queso may cause a brief stomachache, not sharp pains that make me stop what I’m doing at perfectly timed intervals).

5. After talking to the doctor, we decided to go to the hospital to check it out. Brett left at lunch (he would’ve earlier, but I insisted) and I folded some laundry in between hee-hee-hooing. He packed a bag, loaded the car, and off to the hospital we went.

6. We went into the assessment room (which is basically a glorified closet) and three hours later, the nurse confirmed I was indeed in labor with contractions 4-7 minutes apart, but not enough progress made to admit me.

7. She tells me this as I’m going through a contraction and so I said (gritted) through my teeth, “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO REST?”

8. I am immediately prescribed an Ambien (spoiler alert: it just made me an extremely groggy contracting lady), and we leave a bit disappointed, which meant a Chick-fil-A drive thru visit to get some fried chicken and waffle fries because COMFORT FOOD, I NEEDED IT.

9. Little did I know that would be my last meal for almost 40 hours. I never went to sleep as the contractions were now about 4 minutes apart, and by 2:00 Friday morning, I couldn’t take it anymore and woke up Brett. We both felt like this would be “it,” so we both took a shower and left for the ER (since the main entrance was closed until 6).

10. By 3:15 or so that morning, we found ourselves in that familiar glorified closet from twelve hours before. My contractions were indeed closer and getting a bit stronger, but I wasn’t “far along” enough to being admitted (even though I was past the point of being induced). Before I started crying my eyes out at that news, I asked what would it take to get to that point. The nurse suggested walking around the labor & delivery wing for about a half hour, but warned me that it didn’t work for most women.

11. I put on my walking shoes (also known as Yellowbox flip flops) and despite contractions, determined to keep a BRISK PACE. Brett walked with me and counted our laps. When we were finished, I had progressed enough for her to call my doctor for her advice.

12. Have I mentioned I love my doctor? Because she bestowed grace and mercy and told them ADMIT HER.

13. Room 220 became our residence for the next few days at 6:30 that morning. After another walk, I progressed a little bit more and contractions were growing stronger. My sweet labor nurse for the day asked when I’d like my epidural, and I asked, “IS NOW TOO SOON?”

14. It wasn’t. And when they told me to not flinch when administering it, my focus was STEALTH. I’m not sure I even breathed, I was so focus on the sweet, sweet, legal drugs.

15. (Side note: I completely admire and respect you all who decide to go “natural.” However, God gave humans the brililant intelligence of inventing the epidural and so I feel like it’s only Biblical that I use it. I say this with all the love in the world, but you’re crazy if you don’t. Except you’re really not. But you are).

16. With the epidural taking full effect (which, by the way, I would end up using four full bags of it by the time labor was over), I was in my happy, numb place.

17. Fast forward to 1:00 that afternoon, and I have progressed nicely. Life is good and I’m thinking this child will arrive for sure by the time my labor nurse got off work at 7. Wasn’t even a question.

18. Until 6:00 or so and I hadn’t progressed one bit in five hours, despite contractions still going strong.

19. My joyous mood was starting to fade, as was my patience. Especially when I was starving (spoiler alert again: while refreshing, ice chips do not satisfy hunger) and my husband ate a delicious bakery treat right in front of me. Bless him.

20. After an internal monitor checked out my contractions, Pitosin was administered to speed along the process and it worked until 10:00, when I reached a stopping point again.

21. And that’s when I lost it. As soon as the nurse left, I cried. I was exhausted, as it had been about 45 hours of no sleep at that point, hungry, overwhelmed, and feeling contractions (which were about 30 seconds – 1 minute apart) when they didn’t make my epidural refill quite fast enough. At this point, I just wanted Brett and my Mom in the room as my sense of humor had left it.

22. With my ugly cry, dark circles, and mood swings aplenty at this point, I’m pretty sure Brett would’ve volunteered to leave the room too. WHICH I CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHY.

23. Epidural began to work again and I came back to my normal, snarky, but extremely tired self by the time Jimmy Fallon came on.

24. “Thank You Notes” and a new “EW!” sketch greatly improved my mood too.

25. By midnight, I finally was ready to begin to push. A team of nurses came in and I kept asking, “Soooo when is my doctor going to be here?”

26. They reassured me they’d call her at the exact right time they’d need her in the middle of my pushing.

27. Reassured, I was not, but I went with it because at this point, I just wanted this baby OUT.

28. The labor nurse (who was great) told me this could take a few minutes or a couple of hours, every one is different. I was sure it would just be a few minutes because I had been in active labor for 18 hours, surely this process would SPEED RIGHT ALONG at this point.

29. (Wrong again).

30. Pushing began, and I will spare you the gory details. I tried to maintain the sense of humor because somehow my nurse would lose count and I’d scream out, “THREEEEEE!” in the middle of pushing.  And let’s just say Brett saw more than he intended when he said “For better or for worse…”

31. By 1:30 Saturday morning, it looked like I may be having a C-section. Long story short, he was face up and not wanting to come out so it looked like it could be the only option.

32. My doctor was called and what I believe was God whispering in her ear, she was already in the elevator when they called because she had woke up in the middle of the night thinking it was time for her to come in for me.

33. Fast forward again, and I had to have an episiotomy and they had to use the vacuum to get our boy out and meet his parents.

34. At 2:33 a.m., I began pushing again and was beginning to push my third set for that contraction when my doctor said, “Okay, stop! You don’t have to push anymore!”

35. Luke Adam arrived with some fussiness, but not a wail and the cutest, scrunched up face I’d ever seen. Even his conehead was cute from his extended stay in the birth canal (thankfully it was already returning to normal a few hours later). As my doctor said, it was a badge of an honor from a hard labor and intense pushing (two and half hours, with maybe two four-minute breaks – every other time my contractions were so close that I pushed the whole time).

36. I actually didn’t cry, I think I had already used my tears early that night and was so exhausted to even attempt to, but was so so happy our boy was safe and by all accounts healthy. His Daddy and I were over the moon and spent some time together as family of three for a few minutes before the rest of the groggy family came in.

37. (Let Brett or I tell the umbilical cord story in person. It’s better that way).

38. Family left by 3:30 or so, and after an exhausted attempt at breastfeeding and the nurses helping me finish up, we slept for a couple of hours before breakfast arrived at 7 a.m.

39. We were now a family of three.

40. And I would do it all over again.

I love my husband in a whole new way. He has been so supportive and encouraging to me, and he is the most loving Daddy to Luke.

Thank you all for the prayers, support, love, gifts, food, and everything else. I read each note of support in that hospital bed and am convinced that God heard your prayers and let Luke arrive safely, and gave me the comfort I needed.

In the form of epidurals.

Amen.

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