Thursday, April 17, 2014

38 weeks and sort of counting

Being 38 weeks pregnant and knowing what is looming in front of me, I can honestly say that "D" day will come with bittersweet emotions. While I am looking forward to meeting my newest little girl, I am dreading the actual labor and delivery.

This pregnancy has gone by a lot quicker than Gwen's. I have been ultimate slacker-mom and haven't participated in any preparations until this week and my list of to-dos seems like it is a mile long.

I have avoided thinking about the actual giving birth part. If you read about my birth story with Gwen, you will remember that while the labor and delivery were easy compared to many other birth stories, I was still traumatized. There is nothing in comparison to the pain of childbirth (many men will say kidney stones is worse than childbirth, of course, they will never know what childbirth is like and I will never know what passing a kidney stone through a male member is like...but I would still beg that childbirth is much, much worse. At least we get a beautiful baby out of the deal. They only get a little mustard seed.)

Instead of making a practical list of all the chores and preparations that need to be made, I instead made a list of helpful hints for surviving childbirth and the following days:

Music: Music made labor bearable, at least the first 14 hours of labor. I made a playlist that included a nice blend of worship music, Band of Horses, Dave Matthews, Edwin McCain and other music that I found to be soothing/calming or tunes that incited brilliant memories from days passed. I would sing through contractions and it seemed to work well.

Doula: No matter the cost, I suggest getting a doula. Having someone there that knows how labor works and ways to alleviate labor pains is priceless.

Granny panties: Yep. You read that right. If you are pregnant and about to pop, stop what you are doing, go to Wal-mart and grab a bag of 3-times too big granny panties. You will thank me later.

Towels: Bring your own towels. The hospital towels are teeny and are made for children.

Snacks: Joseph jumped in on this one. He was standing beside me for so long and I barely even let him step away to take a sip of water much less go and get a snack. Bring snacks that have a low-aroma as nausea does happen.

Fan: Hospital rooms are hot and stuffy. I feel for the poor nurses who work there everyday. Your hospital will have a fan available - you just have to ask for it.

Comfortable bra: At the end of labor, I ended up completely naked (I was hot...). This time, I am going to bring a belly band to put on like a bra so when Charis arrives I will have photos that don't show my upper region in all it's glory.

Diaper pads: These are pads made from diapers. Our hospital provided these and some hospitals have a product that is similar. To make them at home, simply cut the end of a diaper, stuff it with ice (preferably Sonic-style ice), roll up the cut end and tape it closed. I think the nurses were getting annoyed with me as I kept asking for these little gems. They are soft and feel amazing after giving birth.

A few other things:

I was scared to death of the first dreaded bathroom visit after pushing out a 7 pound 5 ounce baby. I shouldn't have been. It wasn't as bad as I thought (certainly not as bad as the pain of childbirth).

I brought a hair dryer and my flat iron when I was in the hospital with Gwen. I didn't use it.

I brought a whole wardrobe. I didn't use it.

I brought a diaper bag full of "baby essentials". Who was I kidding...the hospital has everything you need for your new little nugget. Do bring a cute going home outfit and car seat.

So here is to another birth. Another little miracle.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

32 weeks...and counting.

This pregnancy has gone by so quickly. When you already have a child, time completely changes. It is no longer the hands on a clock whirring by. It is in pounds and ounces of your little one, in dirty diapers and bottles, minutes spent reading board books with crazy names like, "But Not the Hippopotamus". It is measured in the minutes not sleeping at night, in unexpected smiles and cuddles, in watching your baby who is growing so rapidly sleep in your arms.

So no wonder this pregnancy with our Charis has flown by.

How far along? 32 Weeks
Total weight gain/loss: Two weeks ago at the doctor I had already gained a whopping 18 pounds. Considering my total gain with Gwen was 20 pounds, it's looking like I am going to have a lot of baby weight to lose.
Maternity clothes? Is there anything else? I'm never going back to regular clothes.
Stretch marks? Nope!
Sleep: Gwen is FINALLY sleeping through the night (most nights). I, however, am not. Looks like I need to sleep train myself. 
Best moment this week: Gwen walking...but this isn't about Gwen. The best moment is just feeling Charis move and knowing she is there. I feel like I ignored the first part of my pregnancy due to fear of having another child. I am finally enjoying it. 
Miss Anything? I miss eating like a normal person. Acid reflux is of Satan and sometimes I just don't feel like eating even though I am hungry.
Movement: She is a mover and a shaker! Mostly when I am trying to nap or sleep at night. I guess she doesn't want me to get used to sleeping all night again.
Food cravings: Steak and baked potato....vanilla ice cream with hot fudge....sushi....yuuum.
Anything making you queasy or sick: Just the acid reflux. It feels like my stomach is burning sooo...yeah. I am having a lot of back and hip pain.
Have you started to show yet: Oh yeah. My father-in-law actually mentioned how much I had grown in just the small span of a week! I am much bigger than I was with the Duck.
Gender: She is still a she and it is what she will always be.
Labor Signs: Nope!
Belly Button in or out? Innie! It never poked out with Gwen so I am guessing it will stay in.
Wedding rings on or off? Off....they are so uncomfortable and way too tight.
Happy or Moody most of the time: A mix of the two. I think I have been better over the last couple of
Things you love: Sleep...or the idea of sleep.
Looking forward to:  Getting adjusted to our new life with two babies under two years old.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

It's time...24 weeks and counting

I want to say thanks to everyone who has embraced my return to blogging but I feel the need to especially thank my friend LaTiffany for encouraging me to start blogging again. Thank you, lady.

I think it is about time I post a pregnancy update. So...I am pregnant! Again. It seems that for the past two years I have been pregnant which I suppose isn't such a bad thing, minus the six of those months that I spent nauseated.
We found out a week before Christmas that we are going to have another little girl. Her name is Charis Elizabeth and my hubs came up with her name. "Charis"(pronounced khar-ece but we will pronounce it more like care-ece) comes from the Greek Lexicon meaning "grace".
No belly photos this time around...

How far along? 24 Weeks
Total weight gain/loss: Not sure. Though I feel as if I am gaining a lot with this pregnancy. With Gwen, I never really wanted to eat but with this little one, all I want is dessert. I gained only 21 pounds with Gwen and I am pretty sure I will gain more like 50 with this one! 
Maternity clothes? Yep. What they say about your belly growing quicker with the second pregnancy is completely true. 
Stretch marks? Just the ones that I had from my pre-preggo days. 
Sleep: Here's the thing about sleep, since Gwen was born I haven't really gotten much of it. She is still waking up 1-3 times a night, depending. It seems that Charis is more active during the night so I get to feel her move around a lot more since I am up with Gwen.
Best moment this week: Just feeling Charis move around. That is one of the things I missed most about being pregnant. 
Miss Anything? Not really. I feel like I am getting to be a pro at the pregnancy thing. I guess I do miss not having to go to the doctor. 
Movement: Charis is extremely active! I just wish that Joseph could feel her kick but that hasn't happened yet.
Food cravings: Chinese food. "What?", you say? Yes, I detested Chinese food when I was pregnant with Gwen. But that is the beauty of pregnancy...they are all different.
Anything making you queasy or sick: I feel nauseous on and off. Gwen's poopy diapers make me feel ill sometimes, but that happened even before I was pregnant.
Have you started to show yet: Yep[! Though some people still act shocked when I tell them that we are expecting again. I think they are just trying to be nice, otherwise they just think I am fat.
Gender: Girl! Which is exciting to me. I don't have to learn how to deal with boy parts, Gwen will have someone to be best friends with from the get-go, we will have tons of clothes between Gwen's and their cousin Raegan...but the poor girl will always get hand-me-downs.
Labor Signs: Not really, but I noticed that I contract sometimes when I pee.
Belly Button in or out? Innie! I am hoping it will stay in.
Wedding rings on or off? Off....they are so uncomfortable and way too tight.
Happy or Moody most of the time: Moody. I have been a beast this time around, though I have gotten better over the past month or least I think I have. I suppose Joseph is the real judge.
Things you love: I love dreaming about who she will be. I love thinking about the relationship Gwen and Charis will share. I love thinking about sleep. Most of all, I love her father.
Looking forward to:  Honestly, I am looking forward to the labor being over. Labor sucks. It isn't something to look forward to. People say, "oh but at least you have a baby afterwards" like it is a consolation prize. No...labor sucks. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Saying good-bye to 2013

As the year comes to a bittersweet but all-to-welcome close, it is easy for me to reflect on all of the negative aspects of the year. This has, by-far, been the hardest year of my 28-year life and I hope that it remains the hardest year.

The problem with this year is that all of the wonderful things came with their share of heartache, hurt and trial. It has been a learning experience learning to rejoice and cry at the same time - attempting to have a grateful heart despite great bitterness. 

One would think that having a baby, opening a business and learning that you are pregnant again would be cause for only joy and celebration but that has not been my story this year.

Eighteen days after ringing in 2013, I gave birth to a baby girl and Joseph "gave birth" to a new company, Conquest Brewing Company. What started as an adventurous year quickly became a pit of sadness, stress and exhaustion.

I never imaged that childbirth would be so extremely painful and being ill-prepared made for a disappointing start to my daughter's life. The endless crying, diaper changing and little-to-no reward was almost too much to bare. I silently dealt with post-partum depression for the first 6 months of Gwen's life and when I finally went to get help they turned me away saying that I could not possibly have post-partum at 6 months post-partum. So I continued to drown in stress and internal conflict over loving my little Gwen so much but also being overwhelmed by her non-sleeping, constant-crying self.

All the while, Joseph was building his company. Trying to find the right balance between his never-ending responsibilities at the brewery and my constant demands of him to come home and save me from my daily job of taking care of Gwen. For the first 5 months after Gwen was born, Joseph worked two jobs - 40 hours at his former job and then who knows how many hours with the brewery. The dynamic of our relationship changed as before starting the brewery when he left work, he didn't think about it until the next time he went to work. While owning his own business, he is constantly getting texts/calls regarding various aspects of the company that usually cannot wait until the next day. The pressure I put on him to be home was not fair but during the time I felt as if he was my only lifeline.

I had also quit my job at the University of South Carolina to stay home with Gwen. I had never been one to want to stay home and care for children. I had always envisioned myself being the corporate mom who was successful in her career. God changed my heart (and I am glad he did) but this change was extremely upsetting. Going from making a steady income to not making an income at all and still having to work without any pay was a struggle. I didn't expect that taking care of a baby all day would be so stressful and exhausting. One day, standing in front of a sink full of dishes I broke down exclaiming to Joseph, "Who the hell wants this to be their job?" I get no fulfillment out of house work. There is no acknowledgement except more dirty dishes and laundry. 

The thing is, those tasks go unnoticed and unappreciated which was evident by a family member's comments about his father working a job and earning and income and his mother staying at home to raise kids. The comment was basically that the father could do anything he wished with the money he made because the mom "didn't work". I was furious at this mentality of the stay-at-home mom, that her work is not as valuable as the working father's. Luckily, Joseph does not share in these views and he does his best to validate and to voice appreciation for my work.

Then we found out that we were expecting again. The initial reaction as I looked at the pregnancy test was joy but the subsequent feelings were anything but that. Thoughts of how I was going to love another baby, how I was going to deal with having two babies under two years old and most of all, how I was going to survive another labor and delivery were overwhelming and honestly, still are. The hormones of this pregnancy combined with the post-partum depression have made this pregnancy not as enjoyable as Gwen's. I have yet to take a belly photo or make notations of progress. 

The one thing I noticed through this whole year is that through everything, I rarely looked to God for joy or answers. Yes, I prayed but I did not believe that He could honestly take the burdens and help me find rest. I did not look to His promises of

Over the past two months through counseling and increased sleep thanks to Joseph taking the reigns and helping me, things have gotten much better. I have learned a lot about myself: mostly about my selfishness and how I tend to rely on my own strength which is failing instead of relying on the Father's never-ending strength. "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.

So, the ending to this year is much like the beginning. It is full of hope and wonder. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Hot Minute

It has been a hot minute since I last posted on this thing called a blog. Apparently, you are supposed to post regularly on these things. Who knew?

A lot has been happening with our family lately, from my father having complications with back surgery to my husband's company opening their tasting room. From my sister getting married to me getting lost in the face of my beautiful daughter.

As many of you know, the hubs has been brewing beer professionally for about 6 or 7 months now with the brewery producing beer for the masses since the day after Gwen was born.

We finally opened the tasting room on a hot, Columbia summer day and were amazed at the 600-700 people who actually showed up to taste the fruit of Conquest's labors.

The festivities began at 2:00 but by 1:50, we already had a line that stretched to the parking lot until 7:20 pm.

First pour of the day
Being a stay-at-home mom for the past 4 months, I was eager to work and work I did. In between Gwen's feedings I poured pints, washed glasses, gathered glasses, talking to customers, nommed on some amazing British Bulldog food and washed it down with a Seven Ceas Pale Ale...or two.

We were truly humbled by everyone who showed up to volunteer, by the monetary and verbal support of our investors and to the community who showed up to support us. It has been Joseph's dream to open a brewery and now that it happened we are beyond ecstatic. Proof that dreams do come true. Though the days are long with Joseph working two jobs and some days we only see him for an hour, we know that in the end, it will all be worth it.

I'll leave you with a few photos from the day:

The Brewers with their bounty.

Conquest's Crew

The wonderful citizens of Columbia who turned out to support us! Some stood in line for 2 hours!

Collecting a glass or two.

The amazing Irish/Scottish drinking band, SYR.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Best Baby Baubles I know baubles are little trinkets and some of these items aren't really trinkets, but for the sake of alliteration we are going with baubles.

Every mom has their go-to baby items that they couldn't live without. Here are just a few of mine:

1. Sleeping gowns

Carter's Baby Gown

During church yesterday, a fellow  new mom exclaimed how she hated baby gowns and that she preferred sleepers, even the ones with snaps. This took me by surprise as my experience has told me otherwise. Baby gowns have been a life saver during middle-of-the-night diaper changes. No snaps, zippers or little pants to take down makes this clothing item a must have. 

2. Breastfeeding Cover
Udder Cover

Breastfeeding is coming back with a vengeance and women everywhere are fighting for their right to bare their breasts in public in the name of nourishing their young ones. I am all for it but I am not as brave as those women so I opted to check out Udder Covers. They are constantly running "free" promotions where you only pay shipping and handling. At first I thought it was a scam, surely it would be cheaply made, the fabric would fall apart but it was quite the opposite. The cover allows you to see your little one while you nurse while giving you complete modesty. 

3. Swaddle wrap

This is the most valuable baby item especially for those who are swaddle-incompetent like me. My husband can swaddle like a L&D nurse and I would get so frustrated because Gwen would Houdini out of my swaddles. Houdini no more! While it may look like you are imprisoning your baby, it actually simulates the comfort of the womb. Gwen sleeps better and longer when bundled up in the soft, stretchy fabric. 

4. Dexbaby Sound Sleeper

Dexbaby Sound Sleeper

After spending almost 10 months in the womb, a baby gets used to loud noises. Not only does she hear your heartbeat but also the gurgling of your bowels (charming, I know), your voice and other external noises. Your womb gets up to 90 decibels! That is why Dexbaby sound machine is a God-send. We use the rain setting (and sometimes the ocean and womb settings) and actually hooked up our computer speakers so it would be a little louder.  If we ever spend the night anywhere, the Dexbaby Sound Machine goes with us. 

There you have it! The products that have made me a little more sane. Are there any items that I should check out? 

Monday, March 11, 2013

The One About the Truth

The truth. 

During the first weeks of having Gwen, I hated being a mother. 

Let me clarify: I didn't hate Gwen. I loved/love her with all my being but I hated the unknown, of not knowing how to care for her.

I read blogs and literature regarding having a healthy pregnancy and a beautiful, natural birth. I failed, however, to read anything about the reality of caring for a newborn. 

I imagined sitting in a rocking chair in a pretty, clean nightgown, my hair perfectly straight and brushed, my cheeks rouged and my eyes lined and swept with mascara.  Gwen would be in my arms, swaddled in a light pink blanket, her lips and eyes closed in peaceful slumber. Both of us rocking away, blissful, not caring about the world and time. 

Reality can be cruel. 

Reality was me sitting on a couch in sweatpants and a tank top with milk stains, my hair in a haphazard bun, wisps escaping every which way. Gwen, mouth open and eyes red with crying, arms flailing. 

This was my new world and I hated it. I hated the crying and not knowing want to do. Every fiber of my being wanted to help my little girl be comfortable but I didn't know how. Everyone had their opinions and I felt trapped to follow their advice which left me feeling as if I couldn't care for my baby. 

Instead of listening to instinct, I Googled everything and read entirely too many blogs. They didn't have the answer. 

My heart did. Mothering is instinct and when I started listening to that instinct, things got better.

As a result of feeling out of control and helpless, I cried. A lot. I even yelled at Gwen out of frustration because I didn't know how to help her or stop her crying. I spiraled into a rut of self-pity and complaining about how much I hated being a mother and how I "couldn't do it anymore". The frustration was overwhelming and I took it out on my husband All the while my husband encouraged me, telling me that I was made to care for our Gwen and now I know that it is true. His patience unending.

I regret yelling at her as I never want her to feel like I hate her. I never wanted to scare or let my sin affect her. But the truth is, is that I am not perfect but I have a Father who is and who is forgiving. Though Gwen could not answer, I asked her to forgive me for yelling at her and then I forgave myself and moved on. 

I thought that it could be an issue of not bonding but I felt as if I bonded with her from the moment they laid her on my chest and I feel confident in that to this day. I look at her face and I can say that I have never seen anything more beautiful. I didn't know why I was having such a hard time. I have concluded that it was just new. There is not manual for what your personal experience will be like with a new baby. It is an overwhelming and under-appreciating job.

But what I find to be sad is that no one ever writes about the ugly side of things for fear of being judged and being deemed an "unfit mother".  Women only write about the unicorns and butterflies, of how motherhood is easy despite the lack of sleep. I would be doing everyone an injustice if I lied through a fake smile and say that I love it.

Motherhood is hard but every day is getting easier and more beautiful. Her and I are learning about each other and getting into a rhythm of life. I'm learning about what makes her uncomfortable so when she cries I go down the checklist and more than likely I can calm her with in minutes.

Mothers can be so critical. Not only of themselves but of other mothers. I have come to the conclusion that I will always doubt myself and feel as if I am doing things wrong. Motherhood, so far, has taught me how selfish I am and since I realized that, things have been a lot easier. 

Like another blogger wrote, being a mother and waking up everyday to care for your little one is a mission. So now, I realize that my job is to serve. Not only my family but my Father through being a mother. Instead of complaining about I "hate" my new life, I know take joy in knowing that this is my purpose and what a beautiful purpose it be able to serve God by serving my family.

It still isn't easy waking up at 3:00 in the morning to feed Gwen but I can now look at her little face and take in the beauty of being able to care for and to comfort her. 

My life has been enriched.