Friday, September 26, 2014

For New Moms...

Taken at the park when Grayson was 4 weeks old
 I have several friends who have recently had babies, will have babies in the near future, and are days, possibly hours away from having a baby (I'm looking at you, Kim Simpson!!). This of course brings up the question of, how can I help? Everyone wants to offer something, but most people don't know what new moms need or want. I spent some time recently thinking back to things that were done for me that I especially appreciated, as well as some things I have done for friends. If you have a friend who will be or has recently had a baby, maybe think about doing one of these things for her!
(in the interest of full disclosure, I read a list online somewhere that inspired this, but I can't seem to find the exact one. In Googling, I discovered several of these type lists already exist out in cyberworld. So, if you need more ideas or these don't resonate with you, try a simple Google search!)

1) Shift your focus from baby to mom.
Everyone wants to ooh and ahh over the new baby. They all want to hold him/her. 
Of course you want to compliment the cuteness of the little bundle of baby
and show concern for his/her well-being, but please don't forget to compliment and ask about mom! 
I often felt on the verge of drowning in breastmilk and my own tears,
but I wasn't going to just offer that up to someone who was gushing over my baby.
But if a good friend genuinely showed interest in my feelings, you better believe I opened up about it! Sometimes that's just the relief a new mom needs.
Also, it can be a pretty big adjustment going from everyone showing concern for pregnant you
to suddenly everyone is much more interested in the baby than how you're feeling.
Oh, one more thing -- don't ask to hold the baby! 
If mom wants to offer, she will.
If she doesn't (like I didn't), 
she may not quite be ready to hand her new, tiny baby off to anyone else. 
Please don't put her in the situation of having to say no or to feel anxious after saying yes.
Trust me, she has enough to feel anxious about right now!

2) On a related note, tell mom how GREAT she looks!
I'm not just talking about weight, though that can be nice too.
Two compliments/observations stood out to me after having Grayson.
One: his pediatrician said, "You don't even look tired!"
Two: a professor in  my department said, "You look so rested!"
Let me tell you, 
when you are physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted
having someone tell you that you look refreshed and rested is amazing!

3) If you're really interested, ask about the labor.
This may only be appropriate for close friends,
and only if y'all are sharers like that.
But the thing is, 
moms have just done one of the most amazing physical feats of their lives.
And so often they NEVER talk about it! 
Be impressed with them!
Congratulate them for making it through.
Tell them how they're a total bad a**!
 You don't need to ask for gritty details to acknowledge the awesomeness of labor.

4) Food
There is a reason this is the most popular way to take care of new families.
We all NEED food, and finding time and energy to make it is not on the radar for new moms.
Offer to help coordinate meals.
Consider setting up a Take them a Meal profile.
And try to be creative. 
I love a good casserole, especially the leftovers,
but after a week or so, casseroles get old.
If you aren't able to cook a meal, consider bringing them take-out or ordering a pizza.
We had friends from out of town actually order pizza for us! So sweet!!
You can also consider buying groceries instead of a meal.
And don't forget dessert! My favorite part! :)

5) Bring practical things
Most new moms don't really need another pack of diapers or onesies
(but then again, sometimes they do!)
Think about not-so-fun-but-necessary things for mom like
witch hazel and maxi pads, coconut oil, lanolin, nursing pads
or just something you know she loves
like a chocolate bar or Starbucks coffee

6) Don't stay long
When Grayson was first born, I was so thankful for all the visitors who cared for us,
but I could not wait for them to get out of my house!!
Drop off the food, items, etc, pay your compliments
and then leave mom to rest, spend time with her new family, or cry into her pillow.

7) On the other hand, stay for a long time! 
When Grayson was a few weeks old and Scott had gone back to work and my mom had gone back home, I was terribly lonely all day, just me and my newborn baby.
I was too nervous to leave the house much, but I was getting some serious cabin fever too.
The days when a friend would come over to go for a walk around my neighborhood and stay for hours just to keep me company were some of the best!

8) Visit for the purpose of NOT visiting
One very difficult day, when Grayson was 3 weeks old,
and I had severe nipple trauma,
massive oversupply,
and a fussy baby
all I could do was sit and cry. I wanted to shower and have just 5 minutes of silence.
Scott called one of our good friends and asked her to come over to watch Grayson while I did those things. She came right over! She didn't put any demands on me to visit or chat. 
She just took Grayson and I took my sweet time showering -- complete with shaving and plucking my eyebrows! sweet glory!

9) When she's ready, invite her to a non-threatening hangout spot.
I had to ease into the idea of going out and about with Grayson.
It was so much nicer being invited to places like my friends homes or the park
where it was okay if Grayson got fussy or even screamed bloody murder.
It helped me get used to going out with him, and wasn't as stressful as going out for dinner somewhere.
And while you're there, make sure you tell her what an awesome job she is doing,
how she seems like a pro who has been doing this mom thing for years,
and how sweet and easy going her baby is. These words build confidence!

10) Avoid the questions/comments she hears night and day
- Does he/she sleep through the night? (just assume no)
-  cherish every single moment! (some moments just don't seem worth cherishing!)
- Just wait, this is as easy as it will ever be! (a few people said this to me and I about broke down into tears right then and there. I will say, each stage seems to have it's own challenges. I'm not saying it won't get harder. It will. But in totally different ways it gets much, much easier! A year later, I can say with confidence that the first couple months have still been the very hardest!)
- don't you just LOVE being a mom?? (yes, of course. But not always. Don't make her feel guilty about those moments!)
And while we're on the topic, don't offer advice or opinions unless she asks.
Everyone has their own thoughts on feeding, sleeping, and every other thing regarding babies.
If she asks for your thoughts, give them! 
If she doesn't, just hold your tongue! 

Those are just a few things my friends did (or didn't do!) that made the transition into motherhood a little easier. Would you add anything to this list?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

11 Months

We are going up to Atlanta for Grayson's first birthday party at my in-law's house this weekend and I am just now writing my 11 months post. Shameful! But, to be fair, he will not be a year old until Oct. 9th so we still have time! :) He's still 11 months and a baby and all that jazz. Okay?? Okay!

Grayson has just blown me away this past month! Every day he seems to show me something new that he has learned or mastered. He can stand up, totally unassisted. He walks in big, clumsy steps until he plops down and remembers how much quicker it is to crawl. He cruises along our furniture, barely holding on with one hand, like it's no big thing. He says new words all the time-- EY! (hey!), uh-oh!, duh! (duck), cat, mama, dada, whoa!. He can also bark, moo, his own adorable version of meow, baa, and make monkey sounds (thanks, Gramps!). He can sign for "more" and "all done!" (these are the only signs I've taught him, but it only took a couple times of showing them and he figured it out just like that!) He can turn pages in books (though not always in the right order), lift flaps in the flap books (without ripping them!), and point out objects on the page. He loves reading and will hand me books to read for hours! If he really loves a book, he'll keep handing it to me over and over and over until I distract him with something else.

He's still obsessed with the little show on Hulu Plus called "Big Bugs Band." He calls it "BABMM!" (which is from a part of the hip-hop song that says "bamboo!") He will randomly say BABMM throughout the day. He once even woke up in the middle of the night, said "BABMM," put his paci in and went back to sleep without another word! In the living room, he looks at the TV, says BABMM and will search for the remote, trying to turn on Bugs. If he finds the remote, he will point it at the TV shouting BABMM!! I can usually distract him with books instead, or putting Pandora on the TV. I try not to give in to his demands every time. 

He has 4 teeth and eats most table foods. His new favorites include chicken soup, vanilla Greek yogurt, and red beans and rice. He has also started eating plain Cheerios. Of course he still loves black beans and puffs. He gets very few pureed foods anymore, but I do keep some frozen cubes of green smoothies on hand for quick meals.

He now drinks one of his bottle-feedings from a sippy cup at school. Still gets two more bottles at school, and still nurses on demand at home. No real weaning plans at this point--my main goal right now is to work him off the bottles. I do plan to keep giving breastmilk at least through December. Then I'll re-evaluate my pumping plans after Christmas break. But it will be good for him to get the extra antibodies during cold season, and I've already set my schedule to allow for pump breaks this semester anyway.

Sleep...we don't like to talk much about sleep! Not because I think his sleep patterns are a problem, but because he does not sleep through the night and I don't want unsolicited advice on that. Sure, I want more sleep. But we're taking it all in stride, and it works for us.

Grayson is losing his baby fat and slimming down to look like a mature, little boy! It's crazy! But he still has his adorable, mostly bald head -- so there's that! There is no mistaking the red hair that's slowly growing up there, though! I won't know his updated weight and height until his 12 month checkup.

I'm surprisingly not as emotional about him turning a year old as I was a month ago. Maybe I'm still in denial. Or maybe I'm realizing that there will be no magical transformation in the next few weeks and he IS still going to be a baby! The thoughts of all the "shoulds" aren't really nagging at me anymore. As I said, we're taking it all in stride. Last night as we climbed into bed and I said, "Maybe Grayson will sleep through the night." Scott and I both laughed and he said, "Yeah, that'll happen!" (sarcasm. of course, it will happen one day, but it doesn't feel that way to us!) The conversation continued, through our good-natured laughter:

Scott: and we'll tell him to go to bed and he'll just go.
Me: Yeah. He won't need to be rocked or bounced or held until he falls asleep. He won't need to nurse or have a paci. And he'll just stay in his own room all night long until we come get him in the morning.
Both of us: lots of laughing

Sure, those things will happen one day (probably!), but it sure as heck doesn't feel like it will happen any time soon. And honestly, that's really okay. Some of my sweetest moments with Grayson are shared while I rock him to sleep at night. I whisper to him and tell him stories about my life, my hopes and dreams for him, and I say a little prayer for him, all while he dozes off (that's on a good night. On a hard night he pinches me and climbs all over me and I make Scott put him to bed instead!)

I know Grayson has SO many more new tricks, but honestly, they happen so quickly that I kind of forget that it's a big deal. We play a game once and he knows how to play it from then on. He can now use the ring stackers, he remembers silly games with do with his rubber duckies in the bath and tries to reinact them. It's like he just watches us do something and then he's like, cool. I got this, Mom! And that's it. He can officially do whatever that thing is. Amazing.

There are still times that I miss his infancy stages and times when I cling to what is left of that stage like my life depends on it, but most other times I'm just enjoying the ride and having such a fun time watching my sweet boy explore, learn, develop, and grow. :)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Something Big

Lately I have had this persistent feeling that I am, or should be, on the verge of something big. My time with The Lord has been consistently coming back to this point. How am I caring for the world? For the broken and the lost? For my fellow believers? For those who are struggling or hurting and for those who are in the throes of new, exciting, yet overwhelming territories? Moreover, what am I doing that's really a sacrifice? We're called to die to ourselves. To daily pick up our cross and follow Jesus. I want to make big sacrifices to make big differences in the name of Jesus. And not for selfish reasons. I don't want to do it just to say, "Look at me! I'm so good! So kind! So self-sacrificing!" I want to do it because I'm ACHING to do it! But what? What does that look like?

Each time I pray about this and spend time really meditating over what God would have for my life and how I can be a better servant to Him, I feel myself being pulled in two directions. And try as I might, I just can't discern which voice I should be listening to!

On the one hand, I feel convicted about my comfy life. I think about those who have so much less, and I want to help them! I want to give up my luxuries to serve someone else. I really do. But I also want to provide for my family and do what is best for them. How can I put my son in a hard situation to help care for someone else's son? (Like, if we moved to another country and we were therefore at risk of new diseases and other dangers) But then again, what is the message I want to send to my son? That our comfort is to be put above all else? Or should I model sacrifice to him from the start? Not by neglecting him, of course, but by recognizing the differences between true needs and mere conveniences. I think on all this and I just feel like what I'm doing now is not enough. I feel like I should be doing something more. Something bigger. Something more sacrificial. We actually have thought about the idea of moving to a Spanish speaking country. I have no idea what that would look like or what we would do or where exactly we would go, but it's this interesting idea that we just keep coming back to.

On the other hand, I think about the things I AM doing. And I see the potential for big outcomes, even in those little acts. And I wonder if maybe that should be enough? If maybe I'm allowing myself to believe lies that it's not enough to take away from the power of what I am currently doing? Scott and I lead a small group for church. I lead a group for working moms (not through church, just on my own). Scott and I both serve at our church. We tithe and occasionally give extra to certain causes or people. We are raising a son, which is a ministry in and of itself. Imagine the potential in each of these small acts! It may not be a huge sacrifice to lead a group, but if it means someone growing in their relationship with God then isn't that a huge thing? So, what if longing for something bigger is really just taking my focus and appreciation off of the things I'm already doing? I don't want to miss the ministry and evangelism opportunities that are right in front of me now.

I'm not looking for answers from anyone. I don't think anyone but God can really give me answers anyway. Both are good. No one would deny that doing something huge like moving abroad or majoring altering our lifestyle to serve others is a great, Godly thing. And no one would deny that there is power and importance in the ways I currently serve God. Everyone would agree that I should not condemn myself. So, the answer just lies in where God leads me. And that's a journey I have to discover on my own. But you can be praying for me. And I would appreciate that! :)

I will say this. There are two possible opportunities that have come up lately. Both would be pretty big. One is the possibility of a mission trip next summer. I have no idea if it will work out or not, but we're pretty excited about the idea. And maybe God can reveal more of His desires for me while I'm on the trip. The other thing is more of an ongoing sacrifice and lifestyle change. I don't want to talk about it until it's certain, and it's honestly not very likely to happen. But it has the potential to be huge in an unexpected way.

Sorry for being so weird and cryptic in this post. But these things have been on my heart lately, and I would love the prayer from you all!

Have you experienced any of these feelings before? What kind of "crazy" things have you felt called to and acted on? I'm so encouraged by stories and testimonies of God using people in unexpected ways. I would love to hear if you have any to share! :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...