Monday, April 13, 2015

When Clementine Taught Me to See My Neighbors


We roll around the corner, slowly, awkwardly. Clementine has taken to "helping" me push the stroller her little sister rides in, resulting in tripping and repeated sighs of impatience. Neighbors are in their driveways and working in their yards, having answered spring's call to leave their TV sets behind in exchange for sunshine.

Another neighbor is mowing, Hazel Jane hollers into the loudness of the lawnmower. Since the day she found her voice she has had one goal--to be louder. Vacuum, garage door, her sister's tantrum, she yells seriously alongside each one. She's not angry or afraid, just determined.

A middle age woman stands in her driveway, her grown son next to her. Softness around his eyes and sweetness in his smile, the same characteristics that make his down's syndrome apparent to me, are like magnets to Clementine's attention. She stops short, and waves.

"Hi guys. How are you? I'm just going for a walk with my mom and Hazel Jane." the words tumble out of her mouth without the smallest hesitation. He waves.

"Bye. See you later." She continues pushing. At that moment, everything about her is cool and casual. She is kind of my hero, I am in awe of her ease in social situations, her ability to drive a conversation at not quite three years old. I had smiled politely in hopes of avoiding conversation, I would have gladly walked on in my introverted solitude.

We're so different in this way, she forces everyone around her into her world and they happily comply.

The family to our left posted a For Sale sign last month and added a sold tag a few days later. While I was working one day they moved out and a new family moved in. Three years we've lived side by side, and managed to learn his name simply because he bounded out of his house to dig my car out of the ditch one night after I carelessly backed right into a snowbank. In three years I've learned his name, that they have organic veggies delivered every Monday, and nothing else.

They've been on my mind this week, the old neighbors, the new neighbors, the woman and her son around the corner. I have been wondering when we learn to keep to ourselves.

It's a lesson Clementine hasn't grasped, one she would be better never learning. Each time we walk by the house with the sweet twins who just learned to walk playing in their backyard, I all but pick her up and carry her down the street to keep her from joining them in their sandbox.

I have been thinking about the old neighbors, about the shy smiles we exchanged as we passed on the sidewalk or met at the mailbox. About the mom and her son who live their lives around the corner, while I have been completely unaware of their existence.

Grocery shopping today, I grabbed a bag of chocolate chips and an extra pound of butter on whim. The new neighbors' cars leave early and come home in the afternoon, I still haven't seen the people who drive them. Tomorrow I think I will dig out my mom's Betty Crocker and bake the cookies we grew up on with the girls for the very first time. After nap time, I will walk them next door and learn the names of our new neighbors.

I think I will bring Clementine along to drive the conversation.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

When Hazel Was Born


There is one moment from both of my births that I remember most clearly:

When I gave that last push, and they finally placed my screaming, slippery baby on my soft, deflated abdomen, I wept. I looked down at that brand new human being that I made, along with the person I love the most, and I saw that hair and the eyes and the blaring need for a mama. I breathed out all of the anticipation of 40 plus weeks and inhaled the smell of her skin for the very first time.

Never have I wept with such complete disregard for social appropriateness or not drawing attention to myself as I did when I set eyes on my girls for the very first time.

Ten months and a few days ago, the rushes began during a slow walk around the block. It was the 26th, Hazel's due date. I had reached the point in my pregnancy where I believed the contractions would never come--I would be perpetually pregnant. I tried to ignore the waves.

We put Clementine to bed, and packed a bag just in case. Chris slept, I lay awake next to him anxiously counting minutes and whispering, "here comes another one," to my snoring bed mate.

By midnight, my contractions were steady and strong. The doctor on call said, "you're a second time mom, you had better just head on in." It was much, much too early. I labored for almost five hours in triage.

I silently cursed my nurse each time she said, "Sweetheart, we need for you to lie still for awhile so we can monitor your contractions. And then I silently cursed myself for climbing into the front seat of our car at midnight instead into the bathtub to labor at home.

I was finally admitted around five in the morning. The doctor on call came in the room to see me, she was calm and she was kind. She sat on the edge of bed, placed her hand on my knee and looked me in the eyes when she talked. For whatever reason, even though we had never met, I set my heart on needing her to deliver this baby. I asked her to please stay, even though her shift ended in twenty minutes. She agreed.

Hazel Jane joined us at 8:58 in the morning on the 27th of May.

After the calm and kind doctor gave me the go ahead to start pushing, I began prepping myself for a very hard, very long forty-five minutes.

I pushed through one contraction, the calm and kind doctor gave me a few pointers, I adjusted and prepared for the second contraction.

"You're doing awesome, babe!" Chris said to me after the second contraction. And then someone else exclaimed, "Look at the hair!"

"Her hair? You can see her hair? There is no way you can see her hair, I just started pushing!"

Third contraction. My doctor said she thought I would birth the head on this push. I didn't believe her, but gave it my best shot anyway.

After the head, that's it. Shoulders one at a time, no problem. Four minutes of pushing, and she was born. She cried right away, I joined in. They brought her right to my abdomen, and she quieted. We talked for a few minutes, her and I, before she began rooting around for the breast. She latched easily and we both sighed in relief.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Two Under Two


With a little over two months between today and my due date I have a lot on my mind about preparing myself to be a mom of two under two. This week, I have a post over on What To Expect about the things I am doing to help me feel prepared for this big life change. Will I ever be ready for two under two? Probably not, but there are a few things that are helping me feel more comfortable with the idea. I'd love for you to stop by and read about the 5 things I've been doing to prepare for the new baby's arrival.

Love,
Mary

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hallelujah.



We've had a few days of goose chasing, chalk drawing, evening walkin', sun on our face weather and we're just a little bit giddy over it around here.

Now, it wouldn't be Missouri if there weren't also a few slushy, snowy days thrown in here and there. But, this week of mostly warm days has been a little reminder that winter does end eventually and warmer days are ahead.

Hallelujah.

Hope you're enjoying warmer days as much as we are.

Love,
Mary










Monday, March 10, 2014

two in a room.

After finding out we were pregnant, we quickly landed on the decision to let our daughters share a room from the start. We have an extra room in this house that is currently serving as a catch-all storage space and is going unused at this point, but we won't be cleaning it out to create a second nursery.

We were really surprised to find that a shared nursery by choice, not necessity, was met with a lot of questions. Don't get me wrong, many who have asked about our plans were supportive but some were confused or concerned by our choice. I thought I'd share some of the questions we have been asked and the reasons for our choice for the curious or for parents who are on the fence about their sleeping arrangements.

So why put two in a room if we don't have to?

To encourage closeness. I anticipate that our girls will have a strong bond, mainly because they will be close in age. We look forward to our daughters being each others' best friends from the very start. Why not encourage this by keeping them close?

It's practical.  This choice makes sense for us for many reasons. First, we hope to have more children and don't plan on moving out of our modestly sized home anytime soon. Why not teach our children to share space from the get go? Additionally, keeping toys and cloth diapers and baby clothes condensed to one room will help us keep up with the clutter and mess.

Won't Clementine's sleep be interrupted during the new baby's wakeful months?

We co-slept with Clementine for most of the first year and we plan to do the same with this baby, so this is not a concern for us. Night feedings will be a regular part of our lives and it only makes sense to keep Hazel close while she is still eating at night.

Don't you want your girls to have their own space and privacy?

Quite frankly--No. We believe that the concepts of having "our own space" and "privacy" are very American (for lack of a better word) and that they are rooted in entitlement. We believe that our value for community should start in our home. We hope to model for our children that closeness is good. Sharing belongings and space is enjoyable because the things we have are gifts and far less valuable than the relationships we have with one another.

I am sure we have plenty of growing pains and learning ahead of us, but I look forward to figuring out this aspect of being a growing family and sharing it with y'all as we go. I would love hear about your experience with shared nurseries. How do you keep organized? How do you orchestrate bedtime? How to keep up with the chaos of toys and clothes? Leave me some tips in the comments below.

Love,
Mary

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hello There, 3rd Trimester!

Clementine is struggling to share the spotlight already.
Time is flying, y'all. Yesterday marked 28 weeks for me and the beginning of the third trimester. Clementine and I braved what is hopefully the last of our snow and subzero temperature to visit my midwife yesterday morning. The main goal for the day: passing my glucose test (success!). My complete blood count showed I was anemic, but besides that Hazel and I both seem to be healthy and growing right on schedule. 

Physically, I still feel great most of the time. No swelling, minimal heartburn as long as I keep my diet in check, and only occasional discomfort. My twelve hour shifts at the hospital are starting to become a little more exhausting and I usually fall into bed minutes after Clementine goes down for the night. Hopefully a change in diet will help my anemia and I'll see an improvement in my energy level as well?

Emotionally, I feel a mixture of things. I am getting so excited for Hazel's arrival. I am very emotional, in the best way, about our growing family. I have found that all of sudden, I also feel nervous and uneasy about her arrival from time to time. Nervous about what? Childbirth, breastfeeding, postpartum hormones, returning to work, making quality time for two babies and a husband, you name it.

Practically, we have been crossing some things off our our to do before due date list and boy does it feel good. We finally have two car seats that will fit in my compact car and still allow my six foot two husband to drive (I was stressing about that one!) We have a second crib and plenty of baby clothes. We still need a handful of items like a mattress, a few newborn cloth diapers, and nursing friendly clothes for mama but I am feeling great about what we have accomplished this far. 

I'm glad you stopped by for a little update. I hope my pregnant and postpartum readers are feeling great!

Love,
Mary

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Peaceful Mornings: Mama First (part two)

Last week I wrote a little bit about how I am working towards taking better care of myself starting with my mornings. I wanted to add a little more about how I have been taking care of my heart as well. I think so many moms want to spend a little time quietly preparing their hearts for their day each morning but it can be difficult to accomplish much with limited time. Here are a few things that I find helpful:

A short, structured devotional. Having something to guide your time in the mornings is really important when there isn't much of it. I have been a big fan of Spurgeon's Morning and Evening as well as the She Reads Truth daily emails. I love that I can access these on my phone because I can still read them on early mornings without actually leaving bed. Clementine is a light sleeper, and often I choose just to stay in bed if I hear her sleep is restless when I wake. I anticipate that this will also come in handy when Hazel arrives and we are co-sleeping and night nursing once again.

Gracefully following a reading plan when you have more time. I am easily discouraged by falling behind on bible reading plans due to the lack of alone time I have as a working mom. After reading this post by Jami Nato awhile back, I was encouraged to approach my Bible reading a little more gracefully. I now follow a plan, but I don't get caught up in staying on track. I read when I can, I don't play catch up, and I don't get caught up in unnecessary guilt. Personally, I am a big fan of a thematic reading plan.

Journal a few guiding thoughts and prayer topics for the day. Realistically, there isn't much time for as much writing and reflection as I would like. Instead, I jot down a few questions or reflections from my reading to think and pray about through out the day.

Most importantly find what works for you. Avoid putting off taking care of your heart for the mystical "some day" when alone time exists in abundance. With early risers, light sleepers, co-sleepers, and night nursers in many of our homes it is helpful to approach our devotional times with grace and flexibility. Evenings or nap times worked better for me for a long time until Clementine started sleeping past 5:30. During early infancy, much of my prayer and reading was done while breastfeeding.
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