Coffee, please.

Picture this: I am on my way to Western Pennsylvania with the whole family to go to some water park for our vacation, when suddenly the happy chatter of my five month old wakes me up. Out of a deep, dream-filled sleep. After already waking me up at 12:45 and 4:45 to nurse during the night.* I stumble out of bed, get the baby, and go downstairs where my wonderful saint of a husband is making coffee.

Aaahhhhhh. I get the beautiful steaming mug of happiness, lean over to smile at our beautiful son, and pour hot coffee all over my leg. Life. Is. Awesome. I manage to drink the rest of the coffee, and slowly the fog lifts and I feel human again.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, during my sophomore year of college I stopped drinking caffeine and diet soda after discovering that aspartame was the trigger for my migraines. For the past 12 years my caffeine has been hot showers and ice water, with the occasional cup of decaf coffee or full strength tea (which still has way less caffeine than coffee) when I felt like enjoying a cup. I did not require coffee to live.

But I get it now. I relate in a new way to the shirt that says “All I need is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus”. Yes. Amen. I need that shirt. Having one kid has turned me into a full-blown coffee drinker. Hot showers are still great, but there are days when coffee is just essential. By kid #3 or 4, I will probably have a coffee maker installed next to my bed.

Anybody else become a coffee drinker after having a baby, or is this just me??

coffee and jesus.jpg

*Henry had heart surgery a few weeks ago, and one of the side effects that the doctors forgot to tell me about is how babies who stay in the hospital forget how to sleep and are hungry all the time. It’s just so much fun! He was a great sleeper before the surgery, and we are hoping that returns soon….er than later.

You Pick Two

This blog post has been running circles in my brain for weeks just waiting to be written, but as you will see from below, there is good reason why it is only now coming to fruition.

When I published my last post I was 39 weeks pregnant. Now we have a 10 11 12 week old! Time flies and all that jazz, I suppose. This post is about what’s happened in the in-between weeks, and what I’ve learned about having a newborn.

Our son Henry finally arrived on March 5th, eleven days past his due date and after 36 hours of labor (hence the “finally”). His complete birth story is one for another time, but I will say that the moment they placed him in my arms was breathtaking and sacred; after so many months of waiting, this screaming, squirming tiny human was suddenly there. And in that moment, everything changed. Everything prior to that moment is “before” and in this new “after” nothing is the same as it once was.

After two delightful days in the hospital, we were sent home with a cart full of goodies and supplies, a newly filled carseat, and all the staff’s best wishes for a good life. Although our childbirth and breastfeeding classes had prepared us well for what those first few weeks at home would be like, I was still caught somewhat off guard by the intensity of the exhaustion and healing process. Regular household chores suddenly become behemoths, and getting up and ready for the day spends what little energy I have available. Practically all of the time is spent feeding the baby, and what little time remains in-between my body demands that I sleep.

One evening towards the end of March, Christian and I took the baby and went to Panera for dinner. It was while eating that I had The Revelation: this season of life with a newborn requires me to “Pick Two”, just like you do at Panera. After the required tasks of nurturing and feeding my child, there is a small margin in which to get other things accomplished.

Every day I can choose to:

  • Take a shower OR eat breakfast
  • Go on a walk OR take a nap
  • Load the dishwasher OR put laundry in to wash
  • Read a book OR write in my journal
  • Sweep the floor OR clean the toilet
  • Cook dinner OR fold a load of laundry
  • Visit the doctor OR go to the grocery story
  • Sleep OR write a blog post (you can tell which one won most often in this category)

Pick two, and that is the limit for the day. I quickly learned that my get-things-done, pack as much in a day as I can attitude had to take a hike, otherwise I would wind up frustrated and upset in trying to do too much. This season of intense change begs for a slow, simmering pace. One where priorities shift and beauty is found in recognizing my limitations.

March was a blur. I can’t really tell you anything that happened outside of our little townhouse, but I can tell you that inside our little home I learned to rest and spent lots of time cuddling our baby. I learned that tears are good, and sleep is better. April is slightly clearer, but only just so. The experts tell you that you need 6 weeks to recover after having a baby. I will tell you that I thought I felt better after 6 weeks. Then week 7 came and I felt even better. That upward trend continued until week 10 when my body felt back to normal and I felt completely healed from the birth.

Ever so slowly as the weeks progress my energy has allowed me to add a third or fourth or even fifth thing to my day. But as a routine begins to develop, as naps get longer and feeding times get shorter it is easy to begin to hurry again. To pack the day with a multitude of good things that ultimately wear me out. In this season I am learning that limits are a good gift, and that when I listen and slow down there is beauty and grace to be found. I am learning to extend more and more grace towards myself and others, to “pick two” and do them with excellence, to focus on what is best over what is good.

What season are you in right now? Where do you need to recognize limits and allow the pace to slow in order to find what is best? Where do you need to extend grace, either to yourself or others? May we slow down and see with fresh eyes the beauty that is waiting for us.

10-IMG_0413

 

 

A Pregnant Pause

AKA: The Waiting Game. Or, Baby Watch. Or, Wait, was that a Contraction?

We made it to 39 weeks! A friend of mine who was due the day before me went into labor and delivered her baby last week, making me realize that this could literally happen Any. Day. Now. I feel simultaneously super ready, and super not ready for this impending event. Every day we wait…and wait.  At the same time, we are also rushing around getting the nursery finished (What? Emily the over-planner doesn’t have the nursery finished? Nope. Not even close. I know, it is a surprise to me too.), making meals for the freezer, ignoring contractions, rehearsing the go-time plans, and enjoying our last few days before we are joined by this new tiny human.

In the midst of the waiting, here are some “You Know You’re Pregnant When” things I’ve experienced/learned/discovered over the past nine months:

  • Nine months = eternity. No one tells you how long nine months takes when you are pregnant. I mean seriously, the school years flew by, and those were nine months each, so I figured pregnancy would be the same. Nope. Growing a human, in my personal experience, takes f o r e v e r. There are days when I can’t remember not being pregnant. Week one (well, week four, when we found out) feels like SO long ago. Note that it has not been a bad nine months, just much slower than I expected it to take.
  • You suddenly can’t remember anything. Y’all. Pregnancy brain is a REAL THING. I mean, one theory says that the baby takes up to 7% of your brain capacity in making their own brain, and it takes two years to get it back. Thank you, science. My brain feels so fuzzy half the time….I start a sentence and can’t finish it because the thought is gone. No idea where the sentence was going, it is just gone. I lost my driver’s license a couple weeks ago and had to get a new one, because my pregnancy brain put it in an OPEN POCKET on my purse, and then forgot about it for four days, by which point it had utterly disappeared. Genius. On a similar note, if I have forgotten to call you back, respond to an email/text/etc, I am sorry. And I blame it 100% on my missing brain cells.
  • The shower/bath suddenly becomes your favorite place. I mean, it only makes sense that when you feel like a whale (NOTE: I did NOT say I AM a whale, only that I FEEL like a whale), you would suddenly share an affinity for their natural habitat. What is it about pregnancy that makes water so appealing? All I know is that I have discovered the exact amount of hot water our tank holds before it is all gone. And I use it all, regularly.
  • Your bladder shrinks to the size of a pea. The only problem with this, of course, is that during pregnancy you are tasked with drinking a TON of water everyday. See where the issue comes in? Lots of water + teeny tiny bladder = no bueno.
  • You sometimes feel like you are in a sci-fi movie. Feeling your child move inside of you is one of the most magical and weird experiences you will ever have. I mean, this is a living human who could grow up to become the first person on Mars, or the discoverer of a cure for a rare disease, and they are kicking you in the ribs! Sometimes I lay in bed or on the couch while Henry is doing his evening acrobatics and marvel that this is how God decided to start new people. That women’s bodies are made to nurture and grow a new life…it is stunningly beautiful.
  • You don’t understand how you can love something so much that you’ve never seen. This child is 100% part of me. I cannot go anywhere without him, and he is totally dependent on me eating and nourishing myself so that he can grow. Yet, I have no idea what he looks like, or his personality, or what he is going to be like. In spite of having never seen him, I already love him so deeply and would do anything for him. It’s a mystery – one of life’s greatest, I think, and as someone who likes knowing things, not always easy. The anticipation of his arrival is growing, as both Christian and I so want to meet him and see his little face!!
  • Waiting takes on a whole new meaning. I think this experience more than any other I’ve had so far echoes the second coming of Christ. Just as Christ will return on a day that is completely unexpected and unknown, so too we have no idea when this little guy is actually going to make his appearance. We have made ourselves ready, and are waiting for him to come. Just as we are called to ready ourselves for that Great Day, to preach the gospel and make Him known until He appears, so we are called to ready ourselves for this new person. To prepare our hearts to love and serve another sacrificially, to make space for this baby in our home, to learn and prepare (as much as is possible) about parenthood and raising children. It has been a beautiful reminder of what it looks like to prepare for Jesus’ return, and has me looking forward to heaven in a fresh new way.

 

henrysmith_

Why Today is Worth Celebrating

In about an hour we will have a new president as Donald J Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of our nation. The most amazing aspect of this day is the peaceful transition of power from one man to another. For hundreds of years Presidents have gracefully vacated the office, making the way for a new leader. No riots, no fighting, no hatred or anger, no resistance to leaving when their time is finished; choosing instead to exit gracefully, expressing support for the new leader as they return to being a regular American citizen.

Having grown up in this nation, I believe many of us do not understand the significance of peaceful transition. We have not experienced violence and death in conjunction with transitions of power. We have not lived in actual fear for our lives that support of a particular leader could result in our death or expulsion from our home. We do not grasp the beauty of opposing party members standing side by side on the platform, shaking hands and choosing to lay aside differences for the sake of what is best for the nation.

Our leaders and former leaders are setting a beautiful example today of respecting the process of democracy. President Obama has called for Americans to support the process, to give our new President a chance to lead, refusing to allow his personal views and preferences to hinder this transition. He of all people wanted a different result in this election, even expected a different result. Yet so many people who say they are “tolerant” are choosing hatred and anger today over peace.

May we remember. Remember that we have the privilege of living in a place where power passes peacefully. Today is a day to celebrate, regardless of your views. Not because you agree with everything (or anything) about the new leader, but because for the 45th time in the history of our country the democratic process that began with George Washington is being honored and followed.

As I watch senators and former presidents from opposite sides of the aisle greeting each other with smiles, kisses, handshakes and laughter, I am thankful to have been born in this country. Today, let’s celebrate our great nation!