Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sacrifice in Motherhood

All through my pregnancy, Steven and I prayed a weekly rosary for couples dealing with subfertility and infertility, keeping a (sadly) ever-growing list of names, but also joyfully marking them off when they would become pregnant. I had a romantic notion of praying the rosary during my labor for these couples, so that I could unite my sufferings with something bigger than me. It's one of my favorite parts of Catholicism- redemptive suffering; the idea that suffering is never pointless and always fruitful, whether we can see the fruits now, or ever, or not. I have a group of women who set beautiful examples of this for me by often mentioning something they're going through and then asking what they can offer it up for. To give suffering, pain, and struggles a purpose and to be able to focus on something outside of yourself can be so fulfilling, and a blessing to both you and the person/situation you're praying for. So I thought what better time to do that than during labor, in the throes of contractions? A little birdie (or a big Birdie?) put the idea in my head the night before Felicity's birth, while I was laying in the hospital bed attempting to sleep and Steven was sawing z's beside me, that maybe, just maybe I wouldn't be able to pray the rosary during labor. So I decided to do it then. I didn't want to wake Steven to get the rosary out of our bag, and I didn't want to call the nurse to disconnect me from the fetal monitor, so I just used my fingers and prayed the rosary for the couples on our list. It's a good thing, too, because my labor was insanely fast and I never did pray the rosary during it. Anyway, I thought later about how my sufferings brought me closer to Christ, how praying the rosary as I laid there helped me to do something besides just focus on me. What I didn't know, and didn't realize for a few months later, is that the coming months of motherhood would unite me to Christ way more than a rosary I prayed laying in a hospital bed. 

Now that I've been a parent of an ex-utero baby for 7 months now, I say to Steven very often how much I feel like parenthood has brought me closer to Christ. I have never in my life experienced sacrifice to this degree. I spent the first 25 years of my life (before I met Steven) largely doing what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted... you get the idea. When I met him and we got serious, I had to sacrifice in order to involve another person in that. That was hard in a way, but I would say generally I fell into it pretty easily. Well, it's not been that easy with motherhood. The late nights, early mornings, never ending middle of the night nursing sessions, whining, crying, poopsplosions, messes, more crying, all the things my fellow mom friends experience day in and day out with their babies, too. As much as I love that little bundle of pudge, there are days, many days, where I feel like I've sacrificed just about everything I have. By the time Steven gets home, there is nothing left. I'm spent and need a good 15 or 20 minutes to myself to put myself back together again. My story is not unique or unusual; I know many moms feel this and the experience is somewhat universal. But it's given me a chance to think about how much was sacrificed for me because I am loved so much. And what better way to reflect on that than by sacrificing myself for another person, a person who, at this point, is nothing without me? Jesus literally gave His life for me, and I'm asked, not in words, to give mine for this sweet baby (and of course any others that may follow!)... to give up my sleep, what I want to do, my days of lounging on the couch watching tv, when I want to eat, time with my husband... to give that life I once knew up for my sweet girl. 

Felicity has brought me many experiences and emotions in her short (and fast!) 7 months, but I will always be grateful- as tired as I am, as worn out as I get :)- for her teaching me to put myself aside for the good of another. I recognize my selfishness every single day and I have countless opportunities to improve upon it, and to revamp who I am to who I want to be, who I wish I was, and who God wants me to be. And to realize the beauty, even a midst the struggle, that comes when you put another person and their needs completely above your own. Thank you, baby girl. I'm a different person because of you. 

Those knees. I die!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Felicity Marian: 7 Months

Guess who's 7 months? We are on the down hill slope to ONE! Ahhh! I mean, I know we still have 5 months but I'm kind of freaking out over here! It's a cross between enjoying her getting older and wanting to cry because she should only be maybe 4 months old by now. How do you people do this??? Make her stay little! 

It's been a really busy month, in both good and bad ways (but way more good!). Steven said he feels like it was so long that she should already be 7 months lol! So I guess we got one appropriately long month in there! 

Weight: 17lbs. This little girl who started off in the 5th percentile with skinny limbs and a flat stomach has SO MUCH DELICIOUS PUDGE! It takes me by surprise every single day. The fluffy cheeks, creases for wrists, knee pudge, and thunder thighs... I could just eat her up! I love when I look in the mirror in the car and see her sticking her leg straight up. ALL the rolls!

Height: 25.5 inches; she's consistently in the 25th percentile for height so I guess she might be a bit of a shorty. Which is weird because she's in the 50th for weight but I feel like she always outgrows stuff by length first!

Medical issues: She finally kicked last month's diaper rash which turned out to be yeast. Treating her diapers was kind of a nightmare and she spent the month in disposables so I could just be once and done with that process. Of course, she started pooping up to 10 (!!!) times per day so we about went broke in diapers, but that seems to have calmed down. Otherwise Felicity has no medical issues going on; praise the Lord! Happy for our healthy girl!

Sleep: Nights are still kind of rough. But compared to what I hear other parents talk about, not that bad. Just rough for us, I guess. It dawned on me yesterday that either naps are good or nights are good but, so far, never both. So we're in a good naps (meaning she takes them, goes down easy, and I can leave which is a first! They are still on the shorter side but I have no complaints about that) but crappy night phase. She goes down easy for bed (right at 7) and will wake up anywhere from 6:45-8am, usually falling somewhere in the middle. Where she used to wake up once to eat at like 3am, and then get in bed with us at 5am to nurse until wake up, she now (*catches breath*), goes down at 7, wakes up 1-2x before we go to bed at 10:30, wants in bed immediately when we get in, wants to nurse the majority of the night, rarely wants to go back in the cosleeper, may or may not take her middle of the night bottle, and gets up normal time. So basically, it's more work for me because she's attached to me most of the night. I will say there is an upside... when she is nursing on and off all night, I skip my pumps. I'm just not stressing about pumps anymore. So it's good and bad. I don't have to get up twice a night when she does that, but I don't sleep as well either. Every now and then she spoils us by spending at least a few hours in the cosleeper. This is a big sleep month because I'm not done! We're slowly, gently working on transitioning her from napping in our bed to napping in the crib. So far I'm working on nursing her down in bed, then moving her to the cosleeper. Once she can be moved without it being the end of the world, I'll move to the nursery and nurse her in the chair and work on getting her down in the crib. We don't mind her being with us when we're in bed, but she's getting way too mobile to be in bed without us. So it's going to be a slow process, but I think we both need it to be that way! 

Clothes/Diaper Size: Felicity is in 3-6 mo/6 mo clothes and size 2 diapers in disposables- same as last month! However, as soon as she gets back into cloth full time, she will easily be in 9 month clothes, I think. I just went in the other night and packed up some of the 6 month stuff and put the weather appropriate 9 month stuff out. So I guess I should say she's on the brink of 9 month clothes. I thought I had more than I do, so I'm going to buy a few more things at a consignment sale this weekend and she should be good to go. Oh, she IS in size 3 diapers in Seventh Generation, but they run small. All other brands she's still in a 2. 

Likes: her favorite toy this month is a whisk lol, board books, the Vtech sit to stand learning walker, she loves eating but even more loves her straw cup!, outings basically anywhere, attempting to climb things, car rides if she's sleepy, having us sing to her. 

Dislikes: being by herself.... with her definition of "by herself" being not having someone 1-2 feet away; staying at home, being on her stomach, being in the car seat if she's not sleepy. 

Nicknames: We've shortened boo tickle to just Tickle and have used that and Boo most of this month. This poor kid will never have just one nickname! We also call her Wiss-i-tah (trying to spell it phonetically) which I don't know where that came from, and I hate it, but yet I do it daily. Actually I think I do remember.... it fit in a made up song some how and then semi-stuck as a nickname. 

Milestones: She is sitting really well, rarely tipping over. Felicity is on the brink of crawling. Watch out!!! She gets on her hands and knees and rocks. She can move her hands out but hasn't yet coordinated her legs going, too, so she ends up on her belly (which infuriates her). She is also pulling up to her knees. As of this week, Felicity can clap, give hugs (just to me so far *MELT*), and will sometimes say "mmm" while smacking her lips to indicate that she wants food. On 9/19 she started 'dancing' to music spontaneously :). So dang cute! Felicity is eating SO much!!! I thought it would take her a lot longer to get the hang of food, but she started on her 6 month birthday, and has eaten SO much since then! She drinks from her sippy cup multiple times daily (she LOVES water!), and has eaten all kinds of fruits, veggies, and a few grains and meats. Our girl is a good eater! She does really well in restaurants because she gets to try yummy new things. The Ruby Tuesday salad bar was a huge hit with her. And wouldn't you know it? I had to come back to edit. She celebrated her 7 month birthday today by CRAWLING. She only went two steps (?), but she did it!!!

I don't want to forget this: 
Fake coughing! It cracks me up. She fake coughs ALL the time. 
We went on another trip to NY to see fam and friends and she did very well. We drove overnight the way there, and during the day on the way back. Our day driving added 5 hours due to extra stops and traffic, but Felicity only cried probably a combined hour out of the 15 (!) so I still call that a win. We had a lot of fun time outside because the weather was so deliciously mild. When we got back, we still had 4 days to relax as a family. It was wonderful!
9/14 is when she started giving hugs. She will lay her head against me with one arm "around" me and oh my goodness, my heart just wants to explode. Also on the same day, we went to SparkCon with is an art festival downtown. As we walked the street looking at the chalk drawings, I was wearing her in the mei tai and she took my hand and held it as we walked. Neither of us had a phone with us for a picture, but it was kind of sweet to just enjoy the moment. 
On 9/15 we went for a walk in the woods at a local park. I had Steven put her on my back in the ergo for the first time so she could see out better and I could see my feet on the uneven ground. SHE LOVED IT! She giggled off and on the entire time and was in such a good mood. The 3 of us were just walking through the woods giggling. It was one of those moments where all I could think is how blessed I am to have this little family of mine! 
This may sound weird to others but on 9/17 Steven got home about an hour early (technically on time) which gave us enough time to all 3 play on the floor before dinner, eat dinner leisurely, and then go on a family walk and read books before bed time. Most days when he gets home, we rush to the table to eat before Felicity needs to go to bed and that's about it as far as our evening goes with her awake. So to have all that time was just heavenly!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our Little Extrovert

I just realized that since my own blog doesn't come up in my search bar anymore, it's probably time to write! We've been so busy this past month! We are just coming off of Steven being off of work for 10 days. Talk about an adjustment now that he's back.... :P. We went to New York to spend time with my sister and sister in law, and Felicity's Godparents/our dear friends. It was fun but also a lot of work. Traveling with a baby is no joke! We ended the week with a couple days to just hang out, get a few things done, and spend some good family time together. And now we are back to life, back to reality. 

Anyway, last Saturday we were meeting with our NFP practitioner who said something that should have dawned on me long before. She asked if Felicity is always so happy and we laughed as we told her that she tends to be happy anywhere BUT home. She responded "Oh! She's an extrovert!". And it was like a lightbulb went off in our heads. Now that you mention it.... yes, our child is a TOTAL extrovert. Cue total and utter panic in her introvert parents. So I started doing some research. First, we talked about how we want to encourage Felicity in whoever she is, but that we hope her extroversion sticks around because we both wish we were less socially awkward and more outgoing. But then we looked at each other like deers in headlights because we have no clue how to appreciate and work with her extroverted nature. So I went on a quest to learn how to encourage and support my child's personality when it's so foreign to me. I found a couple of articles online that I'll be pinning including this one, this one, and this one. I'd really love more of a parenting book though so, if you know of one, please leave it in the comments for me!

Next, I decided that I need to really roll with her love of being out. Of course, being out of the house all the time isn't realistic or practical, but going out once a day most days is doable, even if this homebody could spend a day or two doing nothing but hanging out in my jammies! But she thrives on being around people, especially children, and clearly I can't provide her with that here (and the cat begs me to not try). My life is easier when I meet those needs. If we stay home all day, she CLINGS on me and cries if I'm not right with her. If we go do something out of the house, especially something with other people or children, she will sit and play alone when we get home because that need has been met. So my next quest was finding free or extremely cheap activities to do with her so that we have something to do regardless of the weather, while sticking to our budget. I reached out to a local mom's group and they gave me such great ideas! Currently on our roster are story time at the library, going to the library just to read/play with books, running errands, playing/walking at the parks, walking with the neighbor and her kids, and going to visit with friends. What I came up with to add is a children's area in the natural sciences museum, a children area at a local park's nature center, $5 tumble lessons, and $35 a year open play at a kiddie gym (the last 2 are once she can walk). We're also going to pony up and get a membership to the local children's museum at some point. If those things don't fill our weeks to the brim, I don't know what will :).

Any tips for supporting our extroverted baby? I found it fascinating to read that you usually know if your child is introverted or extroverted by age 2. And I find it funny and very typical of Felicity that we are finding out before 7 months ;). I love this little girl and I know she is going to make me stretch and grow outside my comfort zone, and one day I will thank her!