Thursday, September 4, 2014

oh boy

so...we are having a boy.

i'm still trying to wrap my mind around the concept.  it is so completely foreign to me because i only know what it's like to have a daughter.  also, i must admit that i would've been perfectly happy and content having only girls.  i've never needed or hoped for a boy the way i know some people do.  in fact, i was really excited about the possibility of ellery having a little sister so close in age, and didn't realize how much i was counting on that until our twenty-week ultrasound.  the technician was super friendly and fun, and quickly found the baby's undercarriage at the onset of the ultrasound so that we could know immediately.  i easily saw something there that wasn't there in ellery's ultrasound, and was in a bit of denial.  i kept thinking, what's that doing there?  girls aren't supposed to have those.  i can't be having a boy.  i'm having a boy?

i know some of you (my husband), think this is terrible, to hope for one gender over another.  but for centuries, and in many cultures, baby boys were (and maybe still are, in some places) considered far more valuable than baby girls, and girls were often unwanted and resented.  so this is just my little way of making up for all of that unfairness, saying that girls are just as valuable and amazing and fun and wonderful as boys!  (look at me being a little feminist.)

i'm sure that if we did lots of studies and analysis, we'd figure out why some people hope for one sex over another when it comes to their children.  certainly in ages past, people hoped for boys because women had far fewer rights and were considered lesser human beings.  now that we aren't quite so ignorant, it's interesting that we still have preferences.  i think mine comes down to the fact that i fear what i do not understand.  and i do not understand boys.  i'm married to one, and i am still frequently confused by the way he thinks and does things and communicates.  i know lots of girls are tomboys, or have mostly male friends.  i've always preferred dresses and dancing to sports, the thought of hunting or fishing makes me feel nauseated, and i've always had a plethora of wonderful girlfriends.  i totally get girls.  and i think being mama to a little girl is just about the best thing there is.  i just don't get boys.  and because of that, i really doubt my abilities in mothering a son.

what will i do with him if he decides to play football?  what if he has no interest in music?  i have a hard time with the thought of allowing any of my children to kill animals for sport, but if sam wants to take our son hunting, there will be little i can do to stop him.  of course, all of these are gender assumptions and stereotypes that may or may not be true of our little guy.  sam and i have joked that ellery will be the athletic one, and perhaps our son will be more interested in music and literature, like me.  my hope is that he'll be like his dad, a renaissance man of sorts, who is a skilled athlete in addition to being a talented musician.

but obviously God knows what i can handle, and apparently believes i can handle a boy.  either that or God wants me to depend on Him a bit more, and knows that by giving me a son i'll be constantly in prayer.  that seems like the more likely scenario to me.  ha ha.

i know once this little guy arrives, i'll be completely smitten and wonder what i was so worried about.  but for now, these are my thoughts, the things keeping me up at night.

it will also help once we have a name for this little dude.  seriously, picking a boy name is so much harder than picking a girl name.  it doesn't help that i have lots of quirky things that make me not want certain names.  i love names that end in "s", but they sound like they run together with swenson a little too much.  or names that end in "n" such as tyson.  tyson swenson just sounds like too much "n" to me.  and there are lots of cute boy names that end in that sound!  i'm also really particular about the name having a great meaning.  ellery's name means "bringer of joy" and i truly believe that accurately represents her.  i think a person's name can be so important, and whatever we name this little guy is the first thing we will be speaking over him about himself.  (i know this sounds crazy to some people, but i'm just big on the meanings of names.)

some people assume that because we named our daughter ellery, we want a unique name, but that doesn't matter to me.  we just picked ellery because we loved it.  i would have no problem naming our son something classic, but i just don't want him to be one of four people in his class with the same name.  i was the registrar for a camp, and saw hundreds of children's names come in on registrations.  and let me tell you, there were a lot of girls born in the early 2000s with "M" names.  i can't tell you how many mackenzies, madisons, and makaylas there were in 4th-6th grade in 2010.  i actually love hearing about other girls named ellery, because it just means her parents have great taste, but i hope she never has to go by "ellery S." because there are multiple people named ellery in her class.  don't ask me why this matters to me, it just does!  so as you can see, all my ridiculous name hang-ups make it rather difficult to find a name sam and i can agree on.

any name ideas, people?  send them over!

also, i'd better add a disclaimer...i am beyond thrilled to be having another baby, and feel so blessed to be carrying a healthy baby boy.  i hope i don't come across as complaining, because i realize some people may think that's what i'm doing.  i'm really just trying to be honest because i've been feeling guilty that i wasn't more excited about a boy.  and i can't be the only one who has ever hoped for one sex and gotten another, right?  i guess i just wanted to write about it so that if there are others out there, you know i've been there too.  and i can't wait to write a post after this little guy is born about how much i love having a little boy, because i have very little doubt that he will woo me with his sweetness and cuddles.  i'm so happy that i'll have the experience of having a daughter and a son!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

my little girl, and a really hard night

When Ellery turned one a week and a half ago, I was relieved by the milestone we’d reached.  I know the first year of life can be extremely fragile, as tiny bodies are still developing much needed defenses against the scary, dangerous things of this world.  I cried a bit over the fact that my tiny baby was growing bigger and taking more steps of independence, but I breathed a sigh of relief that we’d kept her alive for a year.

On my first birthday, I had a febrile seizure.  Of course I don’t remember, but I’ve been told about it.  When my nephew started having febrile seizures, we learned they run in the family, so I had been preparing myself for the possibility of someday seeing one of my children have a seizure.  Because my brother and sister-in-law had experienced it, I knew they happen when a child has a fever, and that they aren’t as dangerous as they look, though they are terrifying to watch. 

I thought I was prepared.  I wasn’t.

Last night, Ellery woke around 8:45, so when Sam went to check on her and found her to be pretty warm, we gave her some Tylenol.  She’d had a low-grade fever on Friday, which spiked a bit Saturday, but had been feeling and acting normally Saturday evening.  I had already spoken to her pediatrician and an advice nurse Friday and Saturday, who weren’t super concerned, so we weren’t concerned either.  After giving her medicine, Sam went to rock her back to sleep.  I was reading on my bed when he quickly rushed out of her room and I knew something was wrong. 
When I saw her clenched fists and unmoving eyes, I knew it was a seizure.  I calmly told Sam that it would be fine and called TJ and Becca.  I didn’t know how serious it was and didn’t want to panic and call 911 if it wasn’t anything too worrisome.  They advised us to put a cool washcloth over her head and call 911 if that would put us at ease.

I dialed 911 and handed the phone off to Sam, and took my shaking baby in my arms.  And that’s when all composure and calm dissipated.

It was the most terrifying moment of my life.

If you know me, you know I’m scared of my own shadow.  My overactive imagination constructs all sorts of crazy scenarios that often have me reminding Sam to check that the doors are locked so we aren’t murdered in our beds.  I know what it’s like to be scared, but the fear I felt last night was more intense than anything I’ve ever experienced.

In my head, I knew Ellery would most likely be fine.  I heard Becca’s words, reminding me that these seizures aren’t fatal, that they look worse than they actually are.  But as I held my baby’s jerking body, and saw her clenched fists and blue eyes, staring unseeing at the ceiling, all logic and clear thought was gone.  All I could think was that I could not lose my baby.  She was too precious to me.  I could not let her go. 

I began to pray as fervently and desperately as I possibly could.  Later, Sam said he thought I was speaking in tongues.  And you know what?  Maybe I was.  Because I honestly can’t tell you exactly what I prayed, but it was something about that God is powerful and could protect my baby and stop her convulsing.  Beyond that I don’t know what came out of my mouth, but I knew I was pleading with God for His mercy.  It was easily the most fanatically I’ve ever prayed, so if somehow I began speaking in tongues that spoke some sort of God’s healing over my daughter, I wouldn’t be surprised. 
The sound of sirens was a welcome noise, and she stopped seizing just before the firefighters arrived.  I gratefully placed her in their capable hands, feeling better that she was now receiving oxygen and getting her vitals checked.  I surprised myself with how calmly I answered their questions, and quickly got my shoes and sweatshirt to accompany them in the ambulance.  Sam followed us in our car, for which I’m thankful because at that moment I know I wouldn’t be able to drive.

Once we arrived at the hospital they said I could carry her inside, so I picked her up and was troubled by how lethargic her body was.  The paramedic assured me that was normal, since her body had just gone through an exhausting five minutes of spasms.  Yes, her seizure lasted about 5 or 6 minutes.  Of course it seemed like an eternity when it was happening, but after the fact I guessed it was maybe 2 minutes. After checking my phone to see what time we called my brother and 911, and how long we were on the phone, at least 5 minutes had passed, which is scary.

We arrived at the hospital around 9:15 and didn’t get home until close to 2 am.  While there, they ran tests to determine the source of infection, but found nothing.  I’m still nervous about that, since fevers are caused by the body trying to fight an infection.  So until we know what was going on and that it isn’t anything more serious, I’m a little worried.

She cried a lot in the hospital, no doubt out of exhaustion and fear, what with the strange new place and faces, and the monitors hooked up to her chest and toe.  Finally I was able to nurse her and she slept for a little while.  When she woke she was groggy but smiling and acting more like herself, which was a relief to both me and Sam.

When we got home, Sam sent me to bed and helped the baby go back to sleep.  I woke around 3:30, and he was still on the couch, watching TV and watching the baby monitor to make sure she was okay.  I have no idea what time he finally slept himself, but I’m grateful to have a partner in this parenting business who cares so much for our daughter. 

So today we are thankful.  Thankful for her health, thankful for every smile she gives us, thankful for how close we live to the fire station and hospital, and thankful for the firefighters, nurses, paramedics, and doctors who helped us remain calm and cared for our baby.  So if you think of it today, praise God for his mercy.  We’d also love prayer that there isn't anything more serious going on, and that they’re able to figure out what caused the fever in the first place.

I'm not sure why I felt compelled to write about this.  Maybe because it seemed like a pivotal moment for us as parents, and for Ellery.  Part of me wants to completely forget everything and block it from my memory, but another part thinks it's important to remember what happened.

And maybe to remind myself, and whoever else is reading this, to hug your loved ones very close today.  
The hospital gave her a little stuffed bear and a little stuffed elephant.  They were exactly what she needed to feel comfortable and not so scared.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

prone to wander

sam and i stopped going to church awhile ago.

we had been going to the same church for about two years, but we left around the time ellery was born for reasons i won't go into on this blog.  we were both really excited to find a new church where we could connect and get involved and find community.

we visited one church twice, and though it was great, we wanted to try other churches in town before committing to this one.

then life happened.

ellery struggled with sleeping at night, and often slept until about ten in the morning.  this meant we missed any 9 o'clock services and struggled to get ourselves, and the baby, ready for an eleven o'clock service.  additionally, sam was working ridiculous hours.  (and by was, i mean he still is.  poor, hard-working husband.)  he usually worked saturday mornings, and often went in on sunday afternoons.  so to be honest, with a baby who didn't sleep well and a husband who worked seven days a week, sunday mornings became one thing for us: a time to rest.  i saw how exhausted sam was, and didn't want to push him to wake up early and get ready to go visit a new church every week.  i tried to let him sleep in.  he didn't get to see ellery often, so sundays also became a sweet day when he actually got to spend time with us.

sam saw how overwhelmed i was with a baby who was waking every two hours, and who cried hysterically whenever we left her in the nursery.  he didn't want to push me to leave ellery in a nursery at a new church every week, with people i didn't know, especially when she seemed to hate it so much.

so...we didn't really go to church for eight months.  and do you know what i realized?  it's easy to stop going to church.

when you have a baby, or when you get married, or when you move, or start a new job with crazy hours, or when life happens, it's easy to stop going to church.  and this is coming from two church-goers, people who were raised in church, whose fathers are pastors, who have both been involved in the ministry at every church we've attended.  we're not "sit-in-the-pew" church people.  we've both helped lead the music at church, and been involved in various other ministries.  even when i was attending a mega-church in college, i volunteered in the hospitality department.  we've both worked in church camp ministry.  we're church people.

and we stopped going to church.

it made me realize how easy it must be for anyone to stop going to church, especially those who aren't so inclined to go to church anyway.  it's easier to stay home and sleep.  it's easier to go to brunch instead.  even if you go to church, it's easier not to talk to anyone, not to get involved, and simply be a consumer.

sam and i finally had an honest conversation about how much we needed and wanted to get involved in church again.  we've started the process of trying out some new places and are excited about where we've visited so far.  i've cried at every service since we started going back, because my soul could finally breathe again.  yes, this is what i've been missing.  this is what i've needed and i didn't even realize how much i needed it.

CS Lewis puts it this way:

"Enemy-occupied territory - that is what this world is.  Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.  When you go to church you are really listening in to the secret wireless from our friends: this is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.  He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery"  (Mere Christianity).

have you stopped going to church?  i'm sure you have good reasons.  i felt like we had good reasons; great reasons, in fact, and perfectly logical arguments as to why we had stopped going.  and that's exactly what Lewis is referring to here.  "the enemy" knows our weaknesses and will play to those so that we think it's a good idea we're abstaining from church, and that we'll get back to it eventually.  then eight months pass and we still haven't been to church.

"Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

dear ellery

sweet child,

there are so many things i want for you.  there are so many things i pray for you.  as your mother, i want to protect you from every hurtful thing, and i want to give you every wonderful thing.  sometimes i hope you like dance, because i intend to enroll you in dance classes at the soonest possible moment.  but then i remind myself that i must accept that you will be who you were created to be, and that may involve interests that are completely different from my own.  my job is to help you become the unique person God created you to be, and i pray daily that i can stay out of God's way and never inhibit your growth.

but sweet daughter, there is one thing i pray so much.  i pray you are kind.  there are so many lonely people in the world, and i want you to be the one to open your arms to them and welcome them.  i want you to sit by the person in your class who smells a little funny, or to be the one to stand up to the mean girls who pick on another little girl because her clothes aren't as nice.  i'm afraid i wasn't very good at that when i was growing up, and i am not very good at it now.  i'm sure if i analyze myself enough, i'll discover that my strong desire for you to be kind is linked to my guilt that perhaps i am not kind enough, so i feel i can make restitution for that by raising you to be extra nice.  i know my example to you is huge, so i promise to start practicing more kindness now, so that, for you, it becomes second nature.

people comment all the time on how friendly you are.  in restaurants, at the grocery store, at church, you smile at everyone you see.  don't lose that, ellery.  keep smiling at everyone.  never stop smiling at people just because they have different color skin than you.  keep smiling at everyone, regardless of how well-off they appear to be.  smile at those who look grumpy, because they probably need your smiles the most.

and be everyone's friend.  don't seek out the ones who can offer you the most from friendship, but seek out those who need a friend.  ultimately, our aim in this life is to become more like jesus, and jesus wasn't impressed by the popular people of his time.  he sought out those whom society rejected.  that's what i want to teach you to do as well.

i don't care if you're the prettiest, or the smartest, or if you're the best dancer in your ballet class.  but i do hope you're the kindest.  and i hope your sweet spirit inspires others to be kind, too.

and on an unrelated note, this is why we got a costco membership - to be able to purchase a huge stuffed chicken for our daughter.  she loves this thing, and cuddles it constantly.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

on parenting and being a little pissed off

there's an article floating around the interwebs right now written by a mom who blames herself for her son's autism.  she lists all the things she did wrong that she believed contributed to his diagnosis, and says she'll never forgive herself for what she's done to her kid.

the article makes me angry.  i'm not even going to link to it here because i don't want any of my young mama friends or soon-to-be mama friends to read it.  if you run across it, i advise against reading it, especially if you are in either of those two categories.

i understand the reason she wrote the article.  she believes she's educating people, or perhaps that by sharing her story, she will prevent another mom from making those mistakes and possibly save future kids from having autism.  i think she wrote it out of guilt, and a little bit out of self-pity.  i totally get that.  and i think educating others is a really great thing to do.  but the article doesn't promote education.  it promotes fear and guilt.  and fear and guilt are the last thing pregnant women and moms need in their lives.

because i remember being pregnant.  it was terrifying.  the moment i found out i was carrying a child, i was in a hot bath, which isn't surprising, considering i spend any free time i have soaking in a hot bath.  i immediately jumped out of the tub for fear that the hot water was cooking my baby.  i began to agonize over the one margarita i had a few days before while celebrating a friend's birthday on a houseboat on lake shasta.  had i given my baby permanent brain damage from that one glass of alcohol?  once i had a salad with blue cheese dressing and called my midwife in a panic, certain that the single salad would result in a miscarriage or stillbirth.  and let's not talk about the devastation i felt when i discovered i had gestational diabetes.  because of my stupid genetics, if my baby even survived the pregnancy, she'd probably develop diabetes or become obese later in life.  and it was all my fault.

if you're a mom and you have a pulse, you've probably experienced some sort of anxiety, either during pregnancy or after your baby was born.  you've probably also experienced some form of guilt or fear that you aren't doing everything completely right for your child.  being given the responsibility of another life is overwhelming.  i know that i have to be my daughter's advocate when it comes to her well-being and medical care because she's too little to do it herself.

so i tried to stay active during pregnancy.  i was forced to eat right.  i did all i could to keep my blood sugar under control.  and then i was induced for two days before finally having a c-section. (by the way, the article points out pitocin and c-sections as major causes for autism, which also infuriated me.)  i mentioned in ellery's birth story, here and here, that i wanted a drug-free, natural birth, but  because of my diabetes, i ended up having a c-section.  and i'm sorry to disappoint all of you who believe doctors are evil and try to make people have c-sections, but my doctor actually tried to avoid it.  when sam and i approached her about it, she wanted to try one more day of pitocin and give my body one more chance to respond and go into labor.  she only agreed to it because of my diabetes, and the fact that the longer ellery was in the womb, the more dangerous it was for her.  once ellery was out and it was revealed how huge she was, my doctor and midwife and all the nurses agreed that the c-section was the right choice.  she was literally too big to drop into the birth canal, which was why my body didn't know it was supposed to go into labor.  if i'd tried it naturally, it would've either resulted in an emergency c-section, or worse.  this is also why i believe God had His hand on the entire situation.  he softened my heart toward having the surgery and allowed sam to be my advocate and fight for it, because that's what needed to happen.

here's what i've realized: people want to blame modern medicine.  and i get that.  the article mentions things like immunizations and antibiotics and acetaminophen being the cause of autism, and though these things can be potentially harmful, they have also been very beneficial.  we have to take the good along with the bad.  maybe our modern medicine is causing certain problems and conditions, but it has also saved lots of lives.  the rates of mortality for infants and laboring mothers have gone way down since 1950, as have diseases such as polio and smallpox.  i sincerely believe my c-section saved me and ellery from danger and possibly death.

and i'm speaking as someone who leans toward alternative medicine.  i go to a doctor's office that practices holistic, naturopathic medicine and acupuncture.  i use essential oils in place of medicine to cure ellery's issues.  i went to an office of midwives when i was pregnant, who only offer a single ultrasound during pregnancy, which is done no earlier than twenty weeks to check healthy anatomy.  (and yes, i tried to get it done before twenty weeks so we'd know the sex before christmas, but they were adamant about it being twenty weeks or later.)

i'm doing everything in my power to do what i believe is best for my daughter.  but guess what?  she might still get sick.  or she might get into a horrible accident.  there is only so much i can do to protect her, and i have to accept that.  i can make all the right decisions, which, according to the article includes avoiding modern medicine, and still, it may not be enough.  but that's because i'm human and imperfect and ellery isn't really mine anyway.  she's God's child, and i've simply been entrusted with her care.  God gave her to me and sam because He believed we would make the best parents for her.  it means i have to let go of that control, since i don't really have it anyway, and simply pray and pray and pray over my daughter.  it means i can slather sunscreen on her every moment of every day, and she may get skin cancer anyway, while girls who go to tanning booths every day remain cancer free.  and God may decide he wants her home sooner than i'm ready for.  though i pray that doesn't happen, and it's a fear i carry with me every day, i would simply go mad if i allowed articles like this one about autism to make me feel more scared or guilty than i already do.

so moms - keep doing what you're doing.  just do your best.  if you're the praying type (which i highly recommend being), pray over every decision you make regarding your child's care.  if you're pregnant, praise God for the life growing inside you.  praise Him for the miracle of conception, of birth, and that you're lucky enough to be a woman able to carry a child.  do not let fear or guilt spoil this special time, and recognize that God is the one in control anyway - not you.  and everyone, avoid passing judgment on parents who choose to do things differently than you.  perhaps that child is getting immunized because she will be traveling internationally, and it's the safest choice.  perhaps that other child is not getting immunized because he already has a weak immune system and the shots would be more of a risk than a benefit.  perhaps that mom did everything she could to breastfeed and it just didn't work.  perhaps that other mom is breastfeeding her two year-old because it's what that child needs.

and if you are a parent of a child with autism, i am in awe of you.  i had the wonderful opportunity to work with children with severe autism, and it remains one of the favorite jobs i've had.  those children were so special, so fun, and involved so much care.  i only spent part of my day with them, and i know it can be exhausting and overwhelming if your child has special needs of any kind.  do not feel guilty, or feel that you are to blame for your child's condition.  you are doing your best, as we all are.

*disclaimer: i think it's very important to educate yourself on the care of your child, especially involving big decisions that can affect his or her health.  what i dislike are sensational articles based mostly on a few studies, and not based on actual scientific fact.  we know for a fact that lots of exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer.  we don't know for a fact that getting an ultrasound can lead to autism.

end rant.

Monday, February 10, 2014

two days, juxtaposed

yesterday was the type of day that needs to be documented.

ellery woke around 6:30, so i went into her room to nurse her.  she nearly fell back to sleep, clutching my shirt, and i knew she wasn't quite ready to be awake for the day.  so we sat in the dark room, her noise machine still humming softly, and she jabbered at me a bit.  her sweet head kept falling against my shoulder, and she would re-position herself, turning her head from left to right, until finally her breathing became even and deep.  she snuggled in and slept, and i snagged a fleece blanket from next to her crib and draped it over both of us.  and i was in heaven.  parents, is there anything better than when your baby falls asleep on you?  it happens so rarely these days that when it does, i simply enjoy it.

i couldn't fall back to sleep myself, even though our glider is ridiculously comfortable, so my mind wandered, and i prayed for the sleeping child, and for any future children we may one day have, and for our families.  and that quiet, simple time was easily the best way i could have started my day.

ellery's hair is getting thicker, but is still baby soft, and it's started to curl a bit when it's damp.  she's getting longer, and though she still fit on my lap, she felt more like a toddler draped across me than a newborn, which is so bizarre.  she slept with her hands clenched in little fists, and at one point she woke up, grabbed the blanket and pulled it over her shoulders, and snuggled back against me to sleep.  i couldn't help but think it was such a big girl thing to do, such a non-baby thing, and that made me want to pause this time and remember it forever.  it just keeps getting more and more rich, being a parent, and i refuse to believe that it won't keep getting better and better.  i know there will be hard times, but i want to look on the bright side and be grateful for the gift of each day being a mother.

she finally woke around 9, so we went back into my room.  ellery got excited when she saw sam, and crawled over to him and gently patted his arm.  he woke and smiled at her, and we three lounged and talked and laughed for a little while before i asked sam to take us to breakfast.  there is still a thick layer of white snow covering our town, and for some reason, brunch seemed like the right idea.

we drove past a few restaurants before finally finding one that was open - the sassy onion.  and let me tell you, the sassy onion has a new fan for life.  first because they were open on a snow day, when every other restaurant was closed, and second because they have a full gluten-free menu.  i happily noshed on gluten-free pancakes, bacon, and eggs.  the waitress asked if we could leave ellery with her, because she seemed to be such a happy baby.  and yes, she is definitely a happy baby.  she doesn't like being tired, or hungry, but otherwise she's very happy and friendly.

we came home and ellery took a nearly three-hour nap.  after two hours, i began growing concerned, but i kept checking the monitor and she was sleeping peacefully.  sam and i were able to relax and just enjoy each other's company, which doesn't happen often since he has been working so much.  then the baby woke and sam watched her while i baked cookies.

we took the still-warm cookies over to kari's house, where we meet with our old community group on sunday nights.  i say old community group because it was the group from the church that we all used to attend, but really, it's still a community group.  we're no longer affiliated with a church, but we are definitely a community, in the best sense of the word.  some day i'll write more about this special group and how grateful we are for them.  we enjoyed pot roast and laughed and watched the olympics.

and then we came home to put ellery to bed and i developed a migraine, because of course, no day is perfect.

it felt like a real gift, yesterday, like God was blessing us with this small moment in time.  i want to hold on to it and i don't want to forget it.  i felt like it was particularly important to write it down today, because today is sort of the opposite.

sam left for work around 5 am and has had a hellish day at work.  snow is fun for lots of people, but lots of other people get into accidents because salem isn't prepared for this much snow and the roads haven't been plowed.  naturally, it makes for a very hectic day for my sweet husband, who manages a car rental office, and many more people than usual need cars.  and today ellery has had such a hard time napping, and getting her to sleep has been more difficult than it has been in over two months.  and our house is a complete disaster, because being snowed in apparently means i no longer need to keep up with dishes or laundry or vacuuming.  and the snow is melting, and turning into that disgusting, brown slush that everyone who likes snow seems to forget about.  (i think the brown slush is perhaps the main reason i dislike snow.)

so today, when i'm drowning in housework, i'll remember our time with friends last night.  and when ellery screams at me and throws her paci across the room in defiance, i'll remember the way her soft head felt nestled against my neck, and the hilarious bedhead she had when she woke.  and tonight when sam gets home from work, i'll thank him for how hard he works to provide for us, and for taking us to breakfast yesterday, and i'll remember how cute it was when he was helping ellery take a drink of water.  because i think God gives us nearly-perfect days so that we can recall them when life is not so perfect.  and the memories we made can be savored until the next really sweet day comes along.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


eight months.  easily my favorite age so far.  she just keeps getting more and more fun, and each day is something new to look forward to.  she's suddenly blossomed into a little girl.  her brain must be working a mile a minute right now, because each day she surprises me with something new she's learned.

i love when she wakes from her nap and i can hear her babbling to herself in her crib.  i miss her when she gets a good, long nap, so when she finally wakes, i restrain myself from going into her room and interrupting her playtime in her crib.  when i finally walk in, i see her little round head just over the top of the crib, and her two little eyes light up when she sees me.  and then she claps her hands and i tell her to stop being so cute, because it isn't fair to me, because i can't keep loving her so much or i'll explode.  and then i pick her up and she squeals and immediately turns to look for the cats.

and in the morning, she has started to wake too early.  little miss is not a morning person, so she's ready for her first nap after being awake for less than an hour.  i tell her she should have just slept a little longer.  so we read books in my bed, and stay calm, and she snuggles up next to me and stares at each picture with the happiest little eyes.  and my favorite is that she pulls up the blanket next to her chest and clutches it with her tiny, chubby hands.  her little piece of comfort, playing with her blanket.

she is constantly moving her feet, when she's laying down, and when she's eating, and it's just like me and just like my grandma wuth, and i love seeing those little similarities.

oh, and boundaries.  she's starting to test them.  she knows she's not allowed to play on the bricks near the wood stove, but she always goes there anyway, and when i sharply say her name and raise my eyebrows in warning, she turns and gives me this smile.

(and notice her utter disrespect for the protective cushion we've wrapped around the bricks?  she pulls it off.)

i know she's trying to use her cuteness to get her way, and i know this because it's what i do with her dad, and it makes me think sam and i are really in trouble.  because she is cute - crazy cute - and if i'm not careful i'll be a bad parent and never say no to her, because how do you say no to such a sweetheart?  but i will, and it will be hard.  i'm not just her playmate and caretaker anymore, and it's no longer my job to find out what she wants and give it to her right away.  now i have to start teaching her, setting limits, and saying no when she tries to play with the remote or my phone or sam's tennis shoe.

she has started to wail, "mama" and "da-ee" when she cries.  i don't think she knows what she's saying, but we must subconsciously respond a little more quickly when she does it, because she seems to understand that it gets our attention.  she's standing up all over the house, which means she's getting more bumps and bruises.  i must restrain myself from keeping her from falling, and remind myself that it's good for her to practice, and fall, and that a little bump is okay.  but it just reminds me that she's getting bigger, and that i'm already starting to train her not to need me.  isn't that the hardest thing about being a parent?  that, if you do your job right, your child will become independent and self-sufficient?  maybe it means i have my own issues of needing to be needed, but it breaks my heart to think that i'm beginning to teach her not to need me anymore.  already she's eating more real food, which means she doesn't need to nurse as much, and it's hard for me to admit that.  maybe it's normal, and maybe it's just because she's my first little one.  but i hope i can remember that it's a good thing for her to learn and grow and become confident in herself and her own competence.

she plays well on her own, especially at her little activity table.  but she turns every so often to make sure i'm still there, and sometimes wants me to stand next to her so she can stop and give me little hugs.  and that's my favorite.  and maybe that's what i hope for - that she becomes her own person, able to stand on her own, and sure of herself.  but every now and then, she'll still need her mama, even if it's just for a reassuring hug.