Countdown to ONE: The Moment I Became a Mom

I wonder when most people would say they became a mom? Would it be when they first saw their positive pregnancy test? First heard their baby’s heartbeat or first held their baby in their arms?

To be honest my motherhood has felt very fluid. In a way, I became a “mom” when we adopted our embryos and they lived for a short time in my womb. Then again, I felt a little more like a “mom” when we got matched and I had a baby shower, saw a baby on ultrasounds, heard a heartbeat and planned for his arrival.

But none of these babies were who would come home with us, who I’d get to mother and raise every day, who would join our forever family.

My moment?

When my son was placed in my arms for the very first time.

I hope I never forget that moment for as long as I live – – even when I’m old and senile, I hope that single memory is clear as day. The way he fit perfectly in my arms, the way his 1 day old eyes were open bright and zoned right into my eyes, into my soul; how everyone else in the room faded away and it was only him and me – alone, together. How finally, everything felt right.

Hi. I’m your Mommy,” were the first words I told him. And finally. I was one.

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Countdown to ONE: Reflecting on A Year of Babywearing

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I wanted this post to include “a few” of my favorite babywearing pictures. 65 pictures later, I realized that wasn’t going to happen. I think I settled with 8. But WHEW was it hard.

Babywearing has been one of the sweetest and most tender parts of mothering for me. One of the reasons choosing pictures to share is hard is because I cherish all those pictures of my son wrapped in the moby, tight in the sling or close to me in the ergo. They speak something unique.

Babywearing has changed – it’s a lot different with a newborn than with a 9 month old, but some of the reasons stay the same. Here’s a reflection of one of my favorite things a year in.

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When you were a newborn…

I wore you, skin to skin, so you would learn who your mama was. I wanted you to know my smell, my voice, my kiss, my walk. I wore you close, tight on my chest, lulling you to sleep by the rhythm and movement of my breath. I wore you in a hospital room, I wore you on our first day outside of its walls, walking around the block, eating dinner with a little Chipotle falling on your head… the pitfalls of a worn child. I nervously put you in the sling for the first time as I ran out of options during the “witching hours,” walked outside in the warm april night air, bouncing and shushing and listening in awe as the combination of all those things began to quiet and calm you. Thus began our nightly ritual.

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Three months in…

I started getting more confident as your mama… realizing that babywearing was becoming a part of the fabric of the relationship between you and me. You started sleeping a little more. You were sleeping in your crib at night although in the day we often took sling naps. I didn’t mind. I could still bake or clean or eat lunch. I wanted you close to me. You loved being near me, being held. The feeling was mutual. I wore you during church, rocking back and forth as I worshipped, singing you to sleep. I wore you while grocery shopping. You absolutely loved to look all around and everyone always commented on you having “the best seat in the house.” I never left home without my sling. When you were having trouble sleeping or teething or anything really, the sling was our best friend. I’d wrap you up, pull you tight and we’d both breathe a sigh of relief. We were home.

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Six months already?

You’ve gotten so big! Our trusty linen sling doesn’t seem to be cutting it for 2 hour long trips out of the house anymore. It’s my favorite so it’s a hard pill to swallow. I started using the ergo and it took a couple times for me to get used to it, but the first time I put you in, I could tell you were as comfy as could be. This is our new “long trip/ grocery shopping” way to wear. The sling is still our go to for short trips/ easy pop-on wears or for sleeping troubles. You started crawling at 6 months and immediately were a man on the go! Over the next couple months you wanted me to wear you less and less. It was a little sad, but I knew that since I had carried you close, you knew you could depend on me and our bond was so strong that now you were free to explore the world on your own.

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As nine months rolled along…

You only got bigger and bigger… and bigger! Fortunately for mama though, those babywearing days were not over. The reasons though, were not happy ones. In January you were sick almost the entire month and had near constant sleeping troubles. I continued to try to put you down for naps and night as usual, but often you would end up in the ergo or the sling, being rocked by the light of the moon… sometimes for 30 minutes… sometimes for 2 hours. Those were rough nights. You were tired and felt so bad, I was so tired. My poor single layer linen wasn’t cutting it for your 24 pound chunkiness anymore. But beside the sickness, I started wearing you on my back in the ergo to clean the floors and make dinner – and you LOVED it! You loved to bounce and play and see what was going on… especially when I was vaccuming and cooking! You are an explorer man and it was so convenient for me when I needed to get things done and wanted you to be content but needed you to be safe.

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For my birthday, my in-laws got me a double layer silk sling…. it’s so gorgeous and it really felt like a labor of love. I put my chunky guy in it for the first time and he felt like half his weight. It’s been amazing to pop him in on those hard nights and not to have my back pay for it.

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So here were are… 11.5 months… so close to 1 year we can taste it...

And we are baby wearers. Soon to be toddlerwearers. It’s an important part of the culture of our family.

Babywearing is sweet, tender, and provides take-your-breath-away closeness; it’s fun and allows you and your baby to share experiences in a unique way that’s unlike any other; it’s efficient and lets mama get things done while still nurturing and interacting with your baby – the ultimate multitasking!

I wear my son because I love to hold him close.

I wear my son because I want him to know I’ll always be here for him.

I wear my son because I want him to become independent.

I wear my son because it makes doing tasks of daily living so much easier.

I wear my son because it gives him a different vantage point in life.

I wear my son because I love it.

I wear my son because he loves it.

I wear my son because I love him.

We are babywearers. It has been a joyful part of our first year together and I know will continue to provide helpful and joyful memories. I love babywearing and am so thankful for it.

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Countdown to ONE: A Grateful Heart

My sweet, long awaited, long prayed for son is turning ONE at the end of the month. I thought it would be kind of fun to post a few thoughts throughout March as a “Countdown to One.” These may be short or long or silly or serious or no big deal or total tear jerkers. Here’s the first one:

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There have been so many thoughts running through my mind as my sweet son is flying closer to one year old. I thought I would be so sad and the word “bittersweet” would constantly run through my mind. It is bittersweet in a way, don’t get me wrong. I am SUCH a squishy, cuddly newborn person; I love those early months and cherish those itty baby baby snuggles.

And I do feel like around 7-8 months when I wrote this post, I was experiencing that bitter part of the bittersweetness a little stronger. My baby was a long way from that squishy newborn or even the roly poly 3 month old…he was working his way closer to a little person. Around 9 months old, he came in swinging, “Mom – I’m becoming a toddler soon. This is happening. It’s gonna be awesome.”

Instead of bittersweetness being the word I resonate with, the word my heart sings is “grateful.” I am so insanely grateful. In no way do we deserve to have this bubbly, bouncing, sweet, happy, healthy, almost one year old boy.

There are just some things about infertility and miscarriage that change you forever. Even sometimes when I think I’m “past all that” I’ll have a hard day that comes out of no where and I remember that is a part of me forever.

One aspect of infertility and loss is that I know my son was never promised to me. I’ve had babies given and babies taken away. Five as a matter of fact. Three in my womb, one that never made it there, and one failed adoption. I was technically a mom years before the world would consider me one. That changes you. And as for Bryan? I held him in my arms… I fed him, I changed him, I introduced myself to him as his mom… knowing that there was a chance in 72 hours I could have no legal rights to him and have to walk away. Living under fear like that as a mom…wanting to make the most out of every second you get… that changes you. And I know I’ve only mentioned it a couple times, but my son was in the NICU for a month for some health issues. There aren’t a ton of long term complications they know of for sure but two. Developmental delays and SIDS. Yes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. My baby had a higher risk of SIDS. Now we know the Lord is sustainer of life – so I was a nazi about sleep environment, him sleeping on his back and got a SIDS monitor which are things I would have done anyway – but we prayed, asked for God’s protection all the time and tried not to give way to fear knowing full well He held Bryan’s life in His hands.

But the reason I say all of this is because I know not a day, not a minute, not a second of my son’s life is promised to us. Just because we went through a hard season of infertility it’s not like “we’re due” for good things or something like that. It is ONLY out of God’s grace and goodness and love.

And man he is lavishing it continually upon us.

As Bryan nears one, I am overwhelmed with gratefulness

  • at being a family
  • how much I love being a mom
  • how happy our son is
  • how he’s not only NOT delayed development wise but is on target or a little above in everything
  • at Bryan’s health. He was in the NICU for 25 days. And has had ZERO follow up since (other than regular well visits at his pediatrician). That’s how well he’s done. It is insane to me. Puts his ear infections and antibiotics into perspective :)
  • at God sustaining my baby’s life. I have breathed this prayer over Bryan so many times over the past year. When you haven’t experienced loss, you forget how miraculous it is that God sustains life. But it really is. And I am so utterly grateful he has sustained Bryan’s and I pray he will continue to.

Thank you Jesus. You are so good to us.

Posted in Adoption, Infertility, Our Son | 4 Comments

Crockpot Potato Soup

Crockpot Potato Soup from Hoping in GodThis picture is kind of yucky but this soup is really good!!! I’ve been changing a lot about the way I run my home in 2014 (cleaning calendar, cooking more often, staying in budget)  and it has been working out so well! I hope to write a few posts on all that in the near future. I feel like I often try new things and they flop 75% of the time. Which happens you know? So it’s okay. But it just makes it all the more a miracle when 75% of the things I’ve been trying since the new year have WORKED! It has been so encouraging to me! One of the biggest shifts for me has been the budget. My husband and I have basically spent 6 years of our marriage having 2 incomes. Even after Bryan was born and I stayed home, since I was paid on a school year, I continued getting a paycheck for about 6 months (it was a huge blessing!)

But that’s the case no longer. And man it has been a huge paradigm shift going from a loosey goosey budget to having to count pennies and not being to able to buy things you want or need because you’ve spent your money this month. NOW! Please don’t get me wrong. We are super blessed financially and are able to eat well and go out to eat some and buy some non-essentials… we are not struggling. But compared to living with two incomes and no kids? One income for 3 people (and 2 people staying home and eating at home all day!) is rough!

I’ve been cooking a lot more since I’ve been staying at home and two things I’ve been doing are

  1. Cooking big portions that my baby and I can eat for lunch for days and
  2. Trying to start cooking a few “meatless meals.”

The second one is so hard!!! This was my first successful one that I felt was filling enough for my meat-loving hubby. And it was YUMMY!!! I’ve made it twice since then. It’s super filling and makes for great leftovers! And is delicious with bacon on it… meat free… or maybe just not mainly meat:)

But help me out!! What are your favorite meat less? Or what are some of your favorite cost effective meals? 

Crockpot Potato Soup

slightly adapted from I Heart Naptime

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced in 1/2 – 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cans cream of chicken
  • 1 can cream of celery
  • 2 cups half and half (could also do milk, if trying to be healthier)
  • 6 T butter
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. onion powder
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1/4 t. cayenne
  • 1/4 t. thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (plus additional for sprinkling on top)
  • 1 bunch green onions thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup -optional, for serving)
  • 4 strips bacon (optional, for serving)

Instructions

  1. Place potatoes, soup, half and half, butter and spices in crockpot. Stir. Cook on low 6-8 hours (or high 3-4). Check potatoes about an hour or two before you want to serve and make sure the potatoes are cooked through. If not, turn up to high, or if already on high, cut potatoes smaller.
  2. About 15 minutes before serving, preheat oven to 400 degrees and cook bacon in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until crispy. Let cool briefly and crumble bacon. Set aside.
  3. Stir cheddar cheese in soup. Taste and adjust spices if needed.
  4. Ladle soup in bowls, sprinkle additional cheese on top with green onions and bacon and a dash of extra pepper.

Note: This can EASILY be made on the stovetop in about 30 minutes. Chop potatoes and add all ingredients in large stockpot or dutch oven. Boil for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked throughout. You may find they will fall apart and you will have smoother, less chunky soup in this method. 

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Your Winter Won’t Last Forever

I don’t know where you live but here in the Midwest we’ve had an absolutely brutal winter so far. (And actually I know it’s been a cold and snowy weather everywhere– the other week I read there was snow in 49 states! I’m guessing Hawaii was the lonely lucky duckling because that’s just the best location ever.) Anyways, we’ve had so much constant snow and deep biting cold — the kind where you lose your breath when you walk outside. It’s made you want to stay inside every chance you get. And for me, a stay at home mom with a baby who gets sick easily? We’ve stayed in a lot. I have homebody tendencies but even I have driven myself crazy being cooped up the last couple weeks.

But this week? We had our first break. A day of 50 degrees then a day that actually, really hit 60! Yes it was soggy and windy and caused a thunderstorm… But oh! What a reminder that winter will actually end! It sounds silly but sometimes when it’s THAT cold it seems like it will always stay that way.

Is it ever the same in your life? I remember one of the hardest things about suffering was that I felt it would always be like this. I would always be this sad, the pain would always feel this close, this acute. And that was devastating. That type of suffering feels cold, frigid, and doing the simplest activity made you lose your breath. It’s hard. Anyone who tells you it’s not that hard hasn’t been through something like that.

But oh! Your winter will not last forever.

The bible often speaks of the phrase “a little while” when it speaks of suffering. Now I know when you’re in the midst of it, that phrase almost seems condescending. Honestly, when I was going through infertility I didn’t even like the term “season” (even though I think it’s a good and appropriate term.) But I would always say, “a season lasts for 3 months! We’re here at 3 years and still going strong!” But the key to hold onto is this is a chapter in your life. Yes this may be a defining chapter. It may be something that changes the rest of your story. But the intense pain you feel every day will eventually dull. It may not completely fade. Although there is hope that it will. I thought it would take me years and years to feel light happiness again, pure joy over friends’ pregnancies and not pain over what I missed out on. By God’s grace I was wrong. It took about 3 minutes of knowing our son. There is hope that it may be much quicker and more painless than you think.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 5:6-11

In suffering, in healing, the glory all goes to Him. Whether you are getting ready to enter a period of suffering, are smack dab in the midst of it or are almost out of it, let the upcoming spring be a reminder to your heart that the pain you feel now will not last forever.

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Sweet & Salty Caramel Corn

Sweet & Salty Caramel Corn from Hoping in God

You guys!!!! I made caramel corn!

Sweet & Salty Caramel Corn from Hoping in God

I love making something for the very, very first time. I’ve never been a big caramel corn person but when we went to a pumpkin patch this fall we bought freshly made caramel corn and it was delicious! As I was planning food for the super bowl, that sweet, salty poppable caramel corn came into my mind.Sweet & Salty Caramel Corn from Hoping in God

I saw a recipe on the wonderfully fabulous Annie’s Eats. It was a GIANT recipe but it apparently it keeps forever.

Sweet & Salty Caramel Corn from Hoping in God

And honestly? Umm… it was so good. I gave a gallon ziploc bag to a friend, we ate most of it at our party and Bryan and I finished the rest in a week.

Sweet & Salty Caramel Corn from Hoping in God

The idea of it sounds complicated, but you don’t have to make your own caramel with a candy thermometer and such. Just boil some sugar and go! It does take about an hour and a half of hands on time though because you bake the popcorn for an hour or more and have to stir it every 10 minutes or so.

Sweet & Salty Caramel Corn from Hoping in God

You guys this is just so, so good.

Sweet & Salty Caramel Corn from Hoping in God

Caramel Corn

from Annie’s Eats; originally adapted from Christie’s Corner

Yield: about 16-20 servings

Prep Time: 30 min/ Cook Time: 60 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup popcorn kernels, unpopped
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Pop popcorn using any method you like. (Annie likes Whirley Pop so I borrowed my friend’s and it worked great!) Place the popped popcorn in a very, VERY large bowl (or two VERY large bowls – you will need to be able to stir and toss the caramel on top).  MAKE SURE TO REMOVE ALL UNPOPPED KERNELS!
  2. Preheat the oven to 250° F.  Prepare at least two very large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, make the caramel. In a 2 quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, mix in corn syrup, brown sugar and salt.
  4. Increase heat to medium high. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Once it reaches a boil, stop stirring and let boil for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add in baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will froth and bubble up. Stir.
  6. Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn in the bowls and toss to coat. Gently using salad spoons can be a very helpful tool. I started with a little at a time, tossed, then added more.
  7. Work slightly quickly so it doesn’t cool and spread the popcorn evenly onto the baking sheets (there may be some caramel clumps.)
  8. Bake for 40-60 minutes, removing from the oven to gently stir every 10 minutes. After 35-40 minutes, taste a piece (or two or three) of popcorn. When it’s done it should be crispy but still slightly mushy when you bite it – bake for another 10 minutes if not. (Taste then if not done, bake for 10 minutes more.)
  9. Remove the baking sheets to a wire rack and allow popcorn to cool completely before breaking apart for serving or packaging.
  10. Store in an airtight container or ziploc bag and this should keep for a long time. Enjoy!

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9-10 Month Milestones

Loves:

  • Baths and water play
  • Being chased
  • Cruising and standing to play
  • Pushing dining room chairs around
  • Eating meals with us
  • Putting a toy in his mouth and crawling around with it

 

Gross Motor:

  • Cruising
  • Standing with barely any support
  • Standing alone for 5-10+ seconds
  • Sits down from standing
  • Balancing on his knees without holding on
  • Going backwards off couch and bed (bed with slight help)
  • Climbing

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Fine Motor:

  • Picks up toy with tips of his thumb and fingers
  • Uses pincher grasp consistently
  • Lifts up different kinds of flaps
  • Flips light switches on and off
  • Picks up tiny pieces of things
  • Picks up string on first try
  • Piks up cheerio with tips of thumbs and finger
  • Puts small toy down
  • Turns book pages
  • Hands toy over when asked and lets go of it

 

Communication:

  • Babbling and talking all the time
  • Saying dada, baba, ga, ka, ma
  • Saying mama and has said baba for bottle a couple times
  • Shaking head no (not really to communicate no)
  • Whispering
  • Talking to himself while playing
  • Follows commands like “come here,” “stop” “give it to mama”

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Personal Social:

  • Loves playing with other kids (especially older than him!)
  • Feeds me a puff
  • Eats his feet (ALL the time!)
  • Drinks water from an open cup while I hold it
  • Feeds himself well
  • When I ask for a toy, offers it and lets go
  • When I dress him, pushes arm through sleeves
  • When I undress him, puts arm up to take out of sleeves

 

Cognitive:

  • Understands causality- presses a button on the light/fan remote and looks up to  flips a switch and turns around to see if the light turned on/ presses button and looks up to see projector
  • Hands over objects when asked to
  • Passes a toy back and forth from one hand to another
  • Picks up two toys, one in each hand and holds onto them for a couple minutes
  • When holding a toy, bangs it against other toy on the table
  • Claps two toys together like pat-a-cake
  • Finds a toy completely hidden under a cloth

 

Adaptive:

  • Eats almost all table foods – noteable new foods this month: cod, scrambled egg yolks, brussel sprouts, oranges, grapefruit, mango (Only waiting/ avoiding strawberries, egg whites, honey and shellfish!)
  • Does a great job with his naptime/ nighttime cues and goes to sleep fairly quickly
  • We stopped using the pacifier except during naptime/ bedtime. He often throws his pacifiers out of his crib. I try to grab them all but he often quickly crawls and reaches under his crib to sneak one in:)
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