Not Just a Mommy

I’ve lived my whole life watching women become moms, only to suddenly neglect their husbands, themselves, and everything else.  My mom always encouraged us to not be one of those women.  I myself had determined to not be the woman whose life revolves solely around being a mom.  Sometimes, however, the best laid plans and intentions fall through.

What I never accounted for was how easy it would be to fall into the trap of making “mommy” your only identity.  The last six weeks have been full and rich, but they’ve revolved mostly around one cute little baby.  Miles commands my attention almost 24/7.  He needs me to feed him, clothe him, bathe him, change his diapers, and hold him.  When he’s having a hard time sleeping, he needs me to bounce him until he finally drifts off.  Plus, let’s face it, I just love holding him, talking to him, and playing with him.  Before you know it, everything else I’ve ever been fades into the background as my life begins to center more-and-more on my sweet baby boy.

But that’s not the way it’s meant to be.  I’ve always firmly believed, and still do, that my marriage should come before my children.  If my husband and I do not have a firm foundation, then how can I expect to be a good parent to my children?  And then there’s everything else that God’s created me to be…the little passions he’s placed in me.  How can I abandon those?

It’s not that being a mommy isn’t important.  It’s an amazing calling, and a huge responsibility.  I stay at home to be a mommy to my little boy.  It’s important to treasure and spend time with your little ones!

And yet, as my mom encouraged me the other day:  I’m not just a mommy.  Let’s be honest…how many of us moms no longer put the effort into looking cute?  How infrequent has your time with your hubby become?  Do you ever wear anything “special” for him anymore?  When’s the last time you went on a date with your spouse?  Are you the type of mom who will make it to your child’s first birthday without ever having left them…ever? 

Yes, being a mommy is important, but so is being a wife.  And a woman.  And a follower of Christ.  And all the other things God’s created you to be.  Don’t loose who you are—who God created you to be—for the sake of being a mommy!  In the long run, you’ll be a much better mommy if your marriage is healthy.  You’ll be a much better wife if you take time for yourself.  You’ll take more time for yourself if your “mommy” hat is just one of many. 

In honor of this new challenge to myself (and you), I have two cute new pairs of boots sitting in my closet…and I’m really going to wear them.   

One Month Old

A week ago Tuesday our little Miles is one month old (he’ll be 6 weeks old tomorrow).  It hardly seems real. 

In some ways, it seems like he’s been here forever.  I just can no longer imagine my life without him!  On the other hand, it doesn’t seem possible that a month could already have passed since I first held him in my arms and first saw his precious face.  The time really has flown by.

This past month has been exhausting, to say the least.  I honestly have no idea how much sleep I’ve been getting, and caffeine is becoming more-and-more of a necessity.  I now understand why my mom always has to have her afternoon cup of coffee.  Motherhood is very tiring!  And yet, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  It’s an amazing thing to have someone so tiny and helpless rely on you…to need you.  My heart skips a beat every time Miles turns his head to my voice, or stops crying when someone hands him back to me.  In the past few days, he’s also started to smile.  To see your child smile at you for the very first time is absolutely indescribable. 

I get asked a lot if Miles is a “good baby”.  I’m never quite sure how to respond to that, because I’m not sure what criteria they’re basing “good” off of.  He’s not the type of baby that eats at a regular interval and then immediately nods off to sleep.  He has his fussy times of day, and there have been nights he’s been up every hour.  And boy can that kid scream!  When he gets hungry, he “goes down fast”, as Andy says.  Within a matter of seconds he can go from completely content to screaming like a banshee.  But, thankfully, a little bit of mama’s milk always seems to do the trick. 😉

We’ve really enjoyed seeing his little personality come out.  One of the first things most people notice about him (if he’s awake) is that he has the biggest most alert eyes.  He’s always looking around at everybody and everything.  He never wants to miss out on anything…which can often lead to trouble getting him to sleep.  He also hates being confined.  Swaddling went out the window after the first week, and he still screams when we strap him in his car seat (although he’s getting a little more used to it).  He loves being outside.  If he gets fussy or antsy, all we have to do is take him out into the sun and he quickly becomes perfectly happy and content.  Yesterday we took him down to a state park near us and walked all around…he ate up every minute. 

He’s very active, and gets frustrated that he can’t crawl, reach something, or turn over.  He’s notorious for kicking his legs against you, trying to stand up.  My dad is convinced he’ll be an early walker, but I guess we’ll see.  His neck is getting stronger by the day, and he’s lifting his head up a lot now…I think looking at something is a big incentive for him.  As I said earlier, he’s also just started to smile at his mommy and daddy.  It’s like he changes a little more each day!  It’s neat to watch…but I also don’t want him to grow up too fast.  

Suffice it to say, we are all doing good.  Miles is growing like crazy.  As of a week ago, he’d already grown two inches and gained almost a pound (almost double than that if you count his weight loss after birth).  He’s starting to sleep better at night (he had night and day a bit mixed up at first, heh!), and he’s grown to love his baths (which he hated at first). 

And Andy and I?  We’re falling more in love with our little man each day.  We love each minute that we get to spend with him.  Miles is truly the most incredible gift we’ve ever received.  We know that God has great plans for this sweet babe, and we’re excited to be a part of them. 

One month down…many more to go.  We love you, precious boy!     

Lessons from Motherhood

It’s amazing how much one month can change you.  Just one month ago my little boy came into this world…and my life would never be the same.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned since Miles came along:

1. Trust your instincts…not the experts.  Before Miles was born, I had some pretty set ideas.  No pacifiers, no co-sleeping, and breastfeeding would be very easy.  Hah!  Guess what?  I’d caved into the pacifier within two days, Miles has spent most of his nights in our bed, and breastfeeding was certainly not easy.  Giving up my pre-conceived notions was far from easy, though.  Often, I felt like a failure as a mom.  I almost wish now I had stopped listening to the experts long ago. 

I remember one very long night when he was about five days old.  He was up most of the night, and every time he’d fall asleep and I’d lay him in his sleeper, he’d start crying.  Finally, at my wit’s end and exhausted, I’d laid down with him on my chest.  And I felt terrible for doing it.  Thankfully, when I’d called my mom crying the next morning I was not met with criticism.  Instead, I was encouraged to trust my instincts and do what I needed to do…instead of worrying about what the “experts” told us to do.  That was a turning point for me.  Now, I take each day at a time and let my baby shows me what he needs.  For the first couple of weeks, that was sleeping close to mommy and daddy.

Five weeks later, Miles does sleep much of the night in his sleeper, but he always ends up in bed with us eventually.  And you know what?  That’s okay.

2. Every baby is different.  We as adults are all very different from each other.  Why should we expect our babies to be any different?  One of the traps I fell into early on was thinking that there was a magic formula for every baby.  Well guess what?  There isn’t!  My baby doesn’t like swaddling, and isn’t big on being rocked to sleep.  He’d prefer to fall asleep walking around, or be put to sleep in a drunken “milk stupor”.  And just sleeping contentedly in his car seat at a restaurant?  Forget about it!  He hates his car seat, although he’s getting more used to it.  In restaurants, we usually do a lot better if I put him in the Moby Wrap.  But only with his feet out (they recommend keeping feet in for newborns)…he doesn’t like to have his feet constrained. 

3. It’s okay to have the baby blues. That first week definitely had it’s ups-and-downs.  I’m so grateful to all of the women who made a point of telling me it was normal to feel down or blue the first few weeks.  I certainly did.  Don’t get me wrong, being a mama was the most wonderful experience, and I was so in love with my little boy!  Yet, I definitely felt sad at times, and often for no particular reason.  Everything was just so new…and my hormones were way out of whack!  They evened out though, and the blues quickly went away.  It helped me so much knowing that what I was feeling was normal, though! 

4. Let some things go. Okay, I’m not going to lie…it really bugged me at first that I couldn’t keep up with all my normal house chores.  At one point, the floor got so filthy that I just had to not look at it.  Even now, the cobwebs in the windows are driving me crazy (I used to vacuum them once a week).  Slowly, though, I’m learning that it’s okay.  I’m learning that if we have to get fast food again because I didn’t have time (or energy) to cook, it’s okay.  This is just for a season!  And, honestly, I’d much rather savor my little boy’s snuggles than waste my time worrying about how dirty my house is.  It’s just not worth it! 

5. Don’t forget your spouse. I’m not going to lie…there are days that parenthood, lack of sleep, and stress have put a definite strain on Andy’s and my relationship.  There’s never anything big, but I’m just so much more quick to snap about petty things and what-not.  We’ve been trying to be more intentional about connecting relationally.  I’m so thankful for a man who is faithful and devoted to our marriage and our relationship.  And you know what?  This is definitely making our relationship stronger.  We’re learning to rely on each other more, and our communication skills are definitely sharpening.  It’s so easy to forget Andy in the midst of all the feedings, poopy diapers, and endless bouncing…but that would be wrong.  My marriage comes even before my sweet Miles.  Besides, the stronger our marriage is, the better parents we’ll be for Miles.  (Can you say “teamwork”?)

6. Enjoy the new “normal”. Life is definitely different from before Miles came.  We knew it would be, but I don’t think anything can fully prepare you for it.  The first few weeks we were pretty much hermits, holed away in our house just trying to get some sleep.  Can you blame us?  Not only were we exhausted, but a mere “quick” trip to the grocery store had tripled in time…or more.  Now when I go into town I have to plan things around feedings and naptimes.  I have a perpetual fear of getting in the middle of a grocery trip with a full basket, only to find myself with a baby who’s screaming like a banshee.  Thankfully that has yet to happen.

Truthfully, though, everything’s changed.  Our routines, what we do in our free time…even when we hang out with friends who have kids.  When we go out, I know find myself in a back room a lot nursing or changing a diaper.  That hasn’t stopped us from going out though.  We’ve been to several restaurants and over to other people’s houses.  We are just a bit more flexible. (And I’m so thankful for the Moby Wrap…it’s an instant soother when we’re out-and-about).  Yes, our life has changed, but that doesn’t have to be a negative thing.  We can choose to embrace this change or complain about it.  I choose the former.     

7. Stop worrying. Finally, as any new mother can relate to, I tend to worry a lot.  Is he too hot or cold?  Is he getting enough to eat?  Is he growing right?  Whenever he’s crying or upset, or has a rough night, I’m so quick to try to find a solution.  He must be gassy from something I ate!  I should try to cut out dairy.  As my friend so graciously reminded me:  he’s just a baby, and that’s what baby’s do.  Sometimes they’re fussy and you don’t know why.  But that’s totally normal!  It doesn’t mean he has a fever or needs “Colic Calm”.  God designed my little Miles’ body to grow and form exactly according to plan.  And you know what?  Whether I eat dairy or not isn’t going to change anything.  All my worrying is just going to make me stressed, in turn making him more fussy!  He’s going to be just fine in the end.

Miles’ Birth Story

Sorry I’ve been MIA for several weeks.  I’ve been spending every spare minute with this handsome guy…

Miles is three weeks old today (which is incredibly hard to believe), so I thought it was about time to write out his birth story to share with you all!
Miles was due August 3rd and, for the most part, the day passed without anything out of the ordinary.  I had been having prodromal labor for several weeks, so any contractions I had seemed completely ordinary.  That night we went out for pizza with our friends (who are expecting their first baby in November), and then came back and watched a movie while drinking root beer floats.  Everything seemed totally normal. 
We went to bed about eleven, and my stomach was a little upset.  I thought I may have just been over tired.  I was finally able to fall asleep, but woke up again about 12:30 still feeling a little crampy in my stomach.  I started to realize that the cramps (which I honestly thought were indigestion), came and went.  After a while I decided to start timing them.  They were consistently 3-4 minutes apart for over an hour, and getting intense enough to make me think they were actually contractions.  I was still skeptical, though, that this was the real thing.  After all, shouldn’t they have started farther apart?  My doctor had told me to come in if I had contractions that were 5 minutes apart for over an hour, and we were already well past that. 
I got up and walked around a bit, drank a glass of apple juice, and kept timing.  The contractions just kept coming, except they were getting a lot closer together and getting more-and-more intense.  I woke Andy up (who had been sleeping this whole time), and told him I thought it was time to go to the hospital.  By this time, my contractions were only 2-3 minutes apart.  We left the house about 2:30 and got to the hospital around 3:15.  Once there, they checked me and I was 4-5 centimeters dilated…Baby Baker was definitely on his way!

I forgot to take a “due date” picture…so here’s 40 weeks and 1 day. 🙂

This is the point that I have to laugh about, because all my pre-conceived notions totally went out the window.  I fully intended to have a natural birth, and to spend my labor walking around, bouncing on the birthing ball, getting in the tub…whatever I needed.  By the time I was admitted to the hospital, however, my contractions were so intense and close together that all I wanted to do was lay in the bed.  No joke.  So lay in the bed I did! 

Definitely didn’t know he was taking this picture!

The next few hours passed pretty quickly, as I focused on my breathing to not only help labor progress but make it through the contractions.  I’m going to be honest with you…they were a lot more intense than I was expecting.  I could make it through them, but each one was definitely tough.  It seemed like I was constantly having Andy put counter-pressure on my back.  The contractions were incredibly strong and close together. 
Let me insert a note here that this was still during the time that my ob was out of town.  Because it was on the weekend, I got whatever doctor was on call.  Honestly, though, I didn’t care at this point…I just wanted the baby out.
At 7 am the doctor on call, Dr. Melton, came in to check on me.  I had never met him, but Andy and I had prayed fervently that God would have Miles come in His timing, and that He would send the perfect doctor.  We ended up liking Dr. Melton a lot.  He was the perfect mix of letting me have my own way, while also seeming genuinely interested in me and my baby.  He checked me, said I was 7 cm, and decided to break my water. 
At this point the contractions got even more intense.  I genuinely felt like I couldn’t make it through them, and I was definitely starting to get loopy.  From this point on, everything seems very surreal.  I remember what happened vividly, but it definitely felt like an out-of-body experience at the time.  I finally decided to let the nurse put a small amount of pain medicine in my IV.  It didn’t help the pain any, but it did take the edge off slightly, allowing me to relax between the contractions.  Honestly, I think this really helped me stand firm in my decision to not get an epidural. 
My loopiness got even worse.  At one point I started singing “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”, in a very low voice, no less.  Thankfully, Andy was the only one in the room to witness this craziness on my part, but I don’t think he’ll ever let me live that down.  I had tried very hard to relax and avoid any pain, but I was definitely in a lot of it.  There was just no way around it!  I think my loopiness must have been my body’s way of coping. 
About 8 a.m. I was in intense pain, and I could just tell it was getting time to push.  It was like I could feel his little head wedged in there ready to come out.  I told Andy he needed to get the nurse.  She checked me and, sure enough, I was fully dilated and effaced!  She went and got Dr. Melton, and they quickly got everything ready.  Dr. Melton had me put my legs in those infernal stirrups (which are not things to push against…you just rest your legs on them).  He thought they would help because my legs were so long, and he placed them up quite high.  Honestly, I hated them.  I wished I could just have something to brace against.  Really, though, I would have probably hated any position at this point.
The nurse told me I could push with the next contraction.  I knew I needed to, but I really didn’t want to.  Part of me just wanted them to take the baby out…I didn’t think I could do it.  Thanks to Dr. Melton (who kept calling me a “pioneer woman” for not getting an epidural), our nurse, and my sweet Andy, I got up the gumption and began to push.  And push.  And push.  And push. 
In the back of my mind, I knew I needed to slow down so I wouldn’t tear.  It was like this animal side just took over my body, though, I don’t know what happened.  I pushed like a mad woman!  The doctor and nurse kept telling me I needed to breathe or point my rear down more to make it easier for the baby to come out or something.  I couldn’t even hear them…I was too busy pushing.  All I knew was that if I could get his head out, this pain would go away and it would all be over. 
I did take a few breaks to say I couldn’t do it, but I was encouraged on.  Dr. Melton told me he could see the head, and that Miles had dark hair.  Dark hair!  And then he told me I could reach down and feel my baby coming out.  I touched my baby’s head, and it definitely didn’t feel like a head.  However, I knew that I was so close to my goal…getting that head out! 
A few pushes later and out came his head, and then, in one tiny push, the rest of his body.  I didn’t realize this at the time, but it had literally only taken me 15 minutes to push my little boy out!
Miles Patrick Baker arrived at 8:31 a.m. and was instantly placed on my chest…a wide-eyed screaming little boy.  And so very beautiful!  I was expecting some shriveled, discolored little thing, but my boy didn’t seem to have anything wrong with him.  He showed no signs of the tight journey he’d just made! 

Before Miles was born, I always scoffed at moms who said their child was perfect.  No child could be perfect, right?  But as I looked at my newborn son, that was the only word I had to describe him.  I couldn’t believe my eyes…Andy and I had been so very blessed.  We didn’t feel like there could be a cuter, more beautiful child in all the earth.  And the love we had for him!  It was absolutely amazing.  And breathtaking. 

Andy got to cut the cord!

So, anyway, I could go on-and-on about the rest of the experience, but I’ll save you the monotony.  Labor was definitely a lot more intense than I could ever have dreamed (but maybe that’s just because mine came so very fast).  However, it was so worth it in the end.  I’d do it a million times over (and again and again), just to have our sweet boy in my arms.  We were so blessed to not have any complications.  I did get a small episiotomy as he came out, and I tore a little bit, but nothing major.  Three weeks later and I’m healing quite nicely.

Hopefully soon I’ll be able to get back into blogging regularly.  These past three weeks have been absolutely incredible.  Exhausting, sometimes frustrating, but always wonderfully blessed.  Motherhood had taught me so much about God and life…so much that I can’t wait to share with you! 
Until then, I hope all is well with you!  Leave me a comment and let me know what’s new in your lives.
~Caitlin~      

I’m still alive!

I know it may seem like I’ve dropped off the face of the planet.  In some ways, I feel like I have!  I am completely baffled as to where August went…how could September sneak up on me so fast??!!

And then I remember.  My August has been spent almost entirely in sleepless nights, a messy house, and learning (often through frustration) how to be a mom.  It’s been spent in snuggles and sleepy milk faces.  It’s been spent in love and wonder and learning.  It’s been spent letting go of all my preconceived ideas, and trusting my instincts instead.  There have been times I’ve broke down crying, but there have been many more times of pure joy and happiness. 

Don’t worry…I’ll be back, and with lots to share with you.  Until then, suffice it to say that we are doing well.  Miles is growing and changing by the day.  He even grew two inches in three weeks, that crazy boy!  And each day when we look at our beautiful little boy, we are reminded how blessed we are. 

PS: Be looking for Miles’ birth story and more updates in the next few days!

He’s here!!!

We are pleased to announce the arrival of our son!!! Miles Patrick Baker was born August 4th at 8:31 am.  He weighed in at 7 lbs, 7.5 ozs, and was 19.5 inches long.  We are hopelessly in love. 🙂

Growing a Baby

I had another doctor’s appointment this week.  Again, I measured small (this time barely 31, and I’m 34 weeks).  Again, I had an ultrasound, and again, Baby B measured just fine.  The sonogram estimated him to already be over 5 pounds! 

And so I’ve come to realize that growing a baby inside of you isn’t once size fits all.  Every woman, and every baby, doesn’t fit inside a specific box.  It just doesn’t work that way!  I’m tall and thin, and my baby is just inside of me more.  (That would probably explain my intensely sore ribs…hah!). 

So anyway, as much as I liked those five minute appointments where everything was fine and I fit inside the “box”, I’m learning that not having those appointments isn’t a big deal.  I’m thankful for more opportunities to see my baby boy, and confirm that he’s healthy.  I’m thankful that I just have a few more short weeks and he’ll be here.  Most of all, I’m thankful for a God who is skillfully knitting him and growing him in my womb.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot just who God is and who He created me to be.  I forgot that he made my body perfectly able to carry and birth a baby.  I forgot that He gave my baby everything it needed to grow a healthy baby.  I about the miracle of it all.  In all this hassle, I’m starting to remember.  I’m remembering that it doesn’t really matter what centimeters I measure.  I’m remembering that my body knows how big to get for Baby B. 

And in the end, it’s all worth it after all.

Blister Beetles

Tuesday evening I came out to my garden to find my precious tomato plants being ravaged by some sort of beetle.  Hundreds of them

I rushed to the farm store before they closed to get some insecticidal soap, and then sprayed the little buggers as best I could.  The next morning, they were even worse.  I admit, I overreacted a bit. 

Here I was, almost 34 weeks pregnant, standing out in the scorching heat, trying to do everything I could think of to save them.  Finally, knowing if I stood out there any longer I’d get too overheated, I went inside.  By the end of the day, I’d called my mom (the master gardener-in-training) about a billion times, cut off every vine that held a tomato (hoping they might ripen in a paper bag), and had my sister-in-law come over and sprinkle Sevin dust on everything.  Yes, ardent organic gardener me now has a chemical on my garden.  Obviously it was my last resort.

Somewhere in the midst of my freaking out and trying to “save” my garden, I realized that I couldn’t.  I had to come to the realization that God truly is Lord of the harvest, whether that harvest happens how I want it to or not. He knew all along that these enemy beetles were on their way. He controls the rain and the sun, and He oversees every last blister beetle. But why would He just let them come?

I see now what a good reminder it was for me.  As I get later in this pregnancy, I’ve been doing too much.  The last few weeks, I’ve been failing to admit that my body is slowing down…and that I need to slow down with it.  I try to walk and lift and work at the same rate that I used to, and I just can’t. 

Had I not been eight months pregnant, I might have sat out there in the heat picking off every last one of those blister beetles.  But I couldn’t do that.  As much as I wanted to, I had Baby B to think about.  As it was, I probably stayed out there too long.  And really, what was it for? 

Slowly but surely I’m learning that slowing down and resting is not a sign of weakness.  God made my body perfectly able to grow and birth a child.  It knows what to do.  It knows I need rest.  Sometimes it’s just me that needs a rest. 

And so, I’ll continue to tend my little garden.  But I won’t let it rule my life.  I won’t think that I have all control over it.  And, instead of weeding every chance I get…I might just put my feet up for a while.  For Baby B, of course. 🙂

 

Check out Newlywed’s Bliss today for tips on how to start grilling!

The What Ifs

There are days when I’m completely overwhelmed by all the “what ifs” in life.  I like having a plan and a certainty.  I like having a secure and unwavering future to look to.

Yet, life isn’t always like that.  Rarely is it like that.  Our best laid plans crumble and fall, and worry begins to seep in…eating away at our happiness and our joy. 

The truth is, however, that we as Christians do have a hopeful and secure future to look forward to, both in this life and in heaven.  God doesn’t promise that we’ll succeed in everything we do, or that life won’t be hard.  He doesn’t promise that we’ll be wealthy or even financially “secure”.  What He does promise is that He’ll always provide for us.  Over-and-over He tells us not to worry.  He has a plan.  He’s got our back.  We won’t starve as long as we trust in Him.

Today, I take comfort in that thought as I learn to wholeheartedly trust in Him by laying down all my worries and fears at His feet.  I learn to let go of those things I cling to the most.  I learn that His way is far better than my best laid plans. 

Today, I learn what faith is.