Wednesday, April 3, 2013

3 Months

Hi Mamas,

It's been forever, I know.  Sorry.  A lot has changed.  I'm super tired.  My sweet babies will be 3 months old on Sunday.  I can't believe that it's been that long since they surprised us with their arrival.  I'm still getting to know them- since they are preemies, this newborn phase seems to go on FOREVER.  They are just now making eye contact and starting to smile.  It came at just the right time.  I was beginning to feel like they were just two more appendages instead of tiny unique little people.

We. Are. Exhausted.  However, I am not nearly as tired or frazzled as I was when I welcomed Gemma into our world.  So much is different about how I parent the twins compared to how I waded through first time motherhood with Gemma.  I do not worry nearly as much as I did with Gemma.  I'm actively NOT googling things on prematurity and developmental complications (and if you are, please don't tell me what you find- I'm letting our pediatrician let me know what to be worried about if anything).  That Google is a dangerous thing... I'm just sayin'.

I go back to work in a month, and I'm both looking forward to finishing out the school year and dreading leaving my babies.  They will only be behaving like 2 month old sweeties so they will seem so much younger when I leave than they should.  They'll be 4 months old technically but won't be nearly that far along in their development.  I'm sure it will be okay- just not looking forward to missing the firsts that I know come around that 3 month age... oh, well.  I will have all summer, thankfully.

I had great ambitions for this post and I feel like my writing is choppy and I'm tired so I'm going to cut this short; ask a question, show some early smiling videos, and just put some pictures on here.  We are well, as you can see below.  More to come...

In honor of our seconds, thirds, fourths, and so ons... what was it like for you to have another child?  Did you find yourself a more relaxed mama?  What was your response like to you new child/children?  To your first/oldest?  Share whatever you want, whatever you will.  This mama heart longs to hear celebrations of siblings.

Love,
Sarah

Me with the twins in the Moby and Gemma... we're waving!


Sleepy Daddy with babies.



Good Morning, Good Eye Contact!



Easter morning curly hair fail...



Rohan's First Smiles
video

Quinn's First Smiles
video

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Through a multitude of storms...

I've been waiting awhile to post on here- waiting for news to settle, for my heart to still, and for my hands to be ready to write.  Seems to me that the past 6 months have been filled with "life". "Life" being a host of storms for those around me, specifically for some of the precious mamas in this space.  Somehow, writing a mundane (or seemingly mundane) question for us all to consider has seemed inappropriate at best.  I've labored and prayed over you, as you've gotten grim diagnoses,  said good-bye to the love of your life, or your sweet fourth child, or  your precious mom, or grieved birthdays or anniversaries of loss.

Amidst the sorrow, I am reminded of one thing that ties us all together- our common identity as women and as mamas.  Recently, I received wonderful news that I am pregnant again- and then received shocking news that I'm carrying twins.  While I'm totally aware that this is an absolute blessing AND one that many of my friends who've struggled with infertility or loss would give anything for, it's been a hard mental adjustment for us.  Little things have been concerning like space- we only have 2 bedrooms, and money- truly, we have no idea how we will afford daycare, and numbers- we never intended to have 3 kids.  Like I said, this has been a bit of an adjustment for us but we are now excited and obviously a part of some bigger journey AND, if it wasn't clear enough already, I am MOST CERTAINLY NOT in charge of my life.  Anyway, I know that in no way does my circumstance compare to what you are going through, have gone through, or will go through but it does remind me of one VERY common thing: we all must continue to mother, no matter the state of our minds or hearts, or in my case- the state of my very nauseous stomach.

I've been reminded so clearly that life does not wait for me to get on board, Gemma does not wait for me to get my head right.  She is up bright and early every morning, calling me from her crib, "Mama, I want get up! I want get up!" and up we get, and off we go.  So, I guess, this has been a wonderful reminder for me of what motherhood really is, in the midst of everything.  Being a mother, means laying yourself down over and over and over- placing your scarred heart aside to fix a sandwich- holding back the morning sickness to push a toddler on a swing.  And then, it's taking that moment or those moments for ourselves, in the dark of the night, or in the early morning, in the tub or in our beds, or on a walk or a run- to weep, to grieve, to hope, to remember, to honor, and to persevere.  And somewhere in the midst of all that, our children heal us- they remind us that life is a gift- sometimes too fleeting- but a gift nonetheless.  They remind us to ooh and aah over airplanes and garbage trucks, spelling bees and confirmations, stars and fireworks.  They point us back to the creator of beauty Himself.  The one who holds our hearts and our hands through it all.

Out of our emptiness, even small cracks in our souls, comes the beauty of sweet music.  Motherhood gives us that chance to pass along a song- one that someday will carry our children through their own seasons of brokenness which will inevitably come their way.  Being present, being honest, and taking time for ourselves sets such a wonderful example for our kids.  Although I have to admit, Yo Gabba Gabba is a great occupier for Gemma when I think I might be at the end of my capability.  I'm not ashamed to admit it... I'm also not ashamed to admit that I know ALL the lyrics to the opening song... don't know how THAT happened! :)

So, I just want to thank all you mamas for weathering a multitude of storms together through prayer, support, and love.  Since I started this group, women have lost husbands, children, and parents, and much more that we don't know about.  Thank you for being a village of encouragement and support for one another.  I will go back to posting about "mundane" motherly things soon, can we say "potty training"? Ugh.  Until then, hug yourself from me and all of us.

Sarah

How Emptiness Sings By Christa Wells 
(Inspried by Ann Voskamp's  A Thousand Gifts)   If you haven't read it, do- it's great.

Brother, he’s suffered like a tree taken down
Wept as he witnessed his dreams carved out
And how can a man just keep walking around
With his heart full of holes

But ooh,
His bow is on the strings
And the tune resonates in the open space
To show us how emptiness sings:

Glory to God, Glory to God!
In fullness of wisdom,
He writes my story into his song,
My life for the glory of God.
Hmm, hmmm

Sister carries her loneliness
In a hidden hollow inside her chest
And sometimes all that she wants is an end 
To the long, long night

But ooh, 
Her bow is on the strings,
And the tune resonates in the open space 
To show us how emptiness sings:

Glory to God, Glory to God!
In fullness of wisdom,
He writes my story into his song,
My life for the glory of God.
Hmm, hmmm

I haven’t been asked yet to walk the hard roads
Still there’s a sense of deep loss in my soul
In the middle of a party, I’ll just want to go
Home.

But ooh,
My bow is on the strings,
I’m beginning to learn where to find the words
To the song that emptiness sings
Ooh, bow is on the strings:

Glory to God! Glory to God!
This is how emptiness sings, oh,
This is how emptiness sings
Hmmm, hmmm

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friend

for a friend and her family as they walk through ashes.



Kingdom Come by JJ Heller

Ashes, ashes, we fall down
It always feels too soon
But when we walk on golden ground
All will be made new

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
all will be made new

Life is but a dream at best
Morning's coming soon
Kingdom come will bring us rest
All will be made new

Chorus

All sorrows and sighs
Will fade away into the night
And all will be made new


Monday, January 16, 2012

Battling Fear... 2012!




Starting last year, inspired by Ann Voskamp at aholyexperience.com, I've started naming my years. Last year was the year of here. And I truly did try to be fully present- soaking up the small moments and the large. Setting aside fears for full absorption of experience. The motivation was to try to relieve some of the anxiety I felt over Gemma's health in the first few months she was born and just enjoy her and my new life as a wife and mama.


I would say that I was more present or at least more aware of my place in situations and experiences because I focused on that theme. It was a successful endeavor but of course, things got in the way, anxiety about her health still remains an ugly monster to fight, and concern for Abe's job still caused me to revert to a longing for the peace that supposedly comes after the storm.


What I'm learning, slowly, and probably will continue to be reminded of until I'm dead, is that the bitter and the sweet exist simultaneously. The fear of her sickness is only cushioned in the awareness of her health- the reality of Abe's seemingly ceaseless job search is only made bearable by the blessing of his current job(s). So, in the midst of striving to be truly present, I must embrace, feel fully, express gratitude during, and experience the bitter times too. It's an ongoing journey, of that I'm certain.


This year, I've decided that the biggest thing I battle is fear. Usually, it takes the form of worry about Gemma. Since she's so small and dependant, I often feel completely alone in care for her. It's totally irrational, Abe is beyond present and involved. I have a loving family and wonderful daycare- friends and a church family who love us all. But, I feel ALONE in my worry. All the time I am concerned, I feel as though I am the only one. I think that may be the biggest rot of worry- the sense that you are alone in your concern. It's much easier to share concern with someone than to feel that you are the only one concerned and thus, the only one responsible for making it okay. I just wish there was some sort of meter or gauge that would tell you how concerned to be about things. I just worry that I'll miss something and since I feel so alone in my worry, I also feel that if I don't look for everything- something could go overlooked and result in something really scary and... it would be MY fault.



Fear comes as a result of a lack of faith- hmmm.... does that sound incredibly harsh? I almost feel bad writing it, but it's true. There are countless times in the Bible that God tells us to not be afraid, have no fear, be fearless. It's so hard to keep that perspective when we see only what's in front of us- this life, this person, this situation. Eternal eyes are fleeting at best. So, I am surrendering this year in faith to God. That I am never alone, never forsaken, never deserted, and never on my own- no matter how scary or unpredictable things may get. I've been praying and thinking a lot about how to battle fear and I've come to a pretty clear direction that my year needs to take. In the book of James 1:5, I've found my "battle cry"-


"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. "


Because I'm surrendering in faith, this year for me will be the year of "WISDOM". I am CLINGING to the promise that if I ask for wisdom, God will provide it. In every fearful situation, I am committing to pray for wisdom on how to proceed, how concerned to be, the empowerment to follow through on what I feel led to do, and let the rest go. We have a massive group of gifted people surrounding us- doctors, teachers, family, friends, minstry leaders and even though it sometimes feels like it, I am most certainly NOT on my own.


I also have this man beside me who holds my hand, listens to my irrational concerns, tries his hardest to alleviate what he can, and then softly encourages me to give it up to God. It's about time I start listening, huh? This year, when I have a multitude of heavy and life changing decisions on the horizon, I will beg God for His infinite wisdom and actively try to let go of the need to be in charge of it all. Because let's face it, I was never in charge to begin with, right? :)


So, Mamas, what are you going to focus on this year? Have you considered naming your year? I much prefer it to New Year's resolutions... :) No giving up of chocolate or soda, no disapppointing lack of weight loss... just a constant, prayerful refocusing of the lens through which I view life. But just for the record, I've not missed a day of flossing my teeth since the turn of the year, so there.


Happy New Year, Mamas!!


Lovin' some books... (Feel free to add suggestions in the comments. I'm LOVING my new Kindle!)


What I'm reading right now:

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

A Love that Multiplies by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar (knock it off, people.... stop judgin') :)


Couldn't get enough:

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis and Beth Clark

Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Mary Beth Chapman

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist

Feathers from my Nest by Beth Moore


Coming up:

Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist

7: An Experimental Mutiny against Excess by Jen Hatmaker




Monday, December 19, 2011

Thankyouverymuch...

Dear Gemma,

Hi Sweetheart! I can't believe that Christmas is almost here. I don't feel very "festive" yet... maybe because I'm working so much these two weeks leading up to Christmas. It's been a busy time for me, baby. All this time, you've been sick... still. I haven't seen so much snot come out of one person, ever. Ever! So, on Saturday, I took you to the doctor and got some antibiotics for you. We think that maybe there's some bacteria in there that's keeping you from getting better and you know what?! IT'S WORKING!!! Last night, you only had one coughing fit at 10 o'clock for about a half an hour and then cried out at 4 am twice. THAT'S IT! You woke up this morning with a dry nose, a big smile, and a well-rested body! Yay! I said a prayer of gratitude last night for science and doctors and antibiotics, thankyouverymuch!

We are making the round this Christmas, swinging by both families homes to celebrate. We'll be with daddy's family on Christmas Eve, and my family on Christmas Day. I was hoping to have some "just us" time on Christmas- go to church, look at lights, watch a Christmas movie, read the Christmas story, make cookies etc instead of traveling between homes but seeing your families is so important. Someday, maybe when you're older, we'll claim Christmas for our nuclear family- maybe we'll host, who knows? All I know is that navigating the holidays is hard- trying to make time for "just us" and connecting with our loved ones who we see all too infrequently.

So, baby girl, even though I know you won't remember any of this, I am thinking of you and how our holidays can create lifelong memories for you. I'm wanting to start traditions that someday, you may carry into your own family with your own littles. Maybe I should stake a claim to the night before Christmas Eve- we can pre-pare everything so that Christmas eve can be relaxing and filled with family time. And... I've started to wonder what to do about Santa. How do I keep Christmas about the birth of Jesus AND include Santa... Do I even want to? Do I want to tell you something that I know will make you so sad later? Hmmm... it's just tossing around in my brain and I'm trying to be proactive before you get old enough to go Santa crazy... I mean, let's be honest- I'm pretty creative and dramatic so if we go the Santa route, I might get a little carried away... just sayin'. Anyway- I'm sure that whatever your daddy and I decide will be okay- I'm just surprised by how little decisions carry so much weight with you. Maybe I put too much weight on them, maybe not. Hard to know.

I DO know this. You are really magical right now. You get so excited for everything and are chattering constantly! If anything, the joy I feel when I'm around you points me directly to the gift of that baby in the manger so many years ago. I'm so grateful to be your mama, peanut. You make me so full.



I love you, darling girl.

Mama


Alright, Mamas: Santa... to introduce or not to introduce and how... discuss...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

all-nighter

Dear Gemma,

Last night was a long one. You are still trying to kick this cold. It seems to have moved into your lungs and is planning a long stay. Maybe some mamas can sleep through their baby's coughing but I can't. So, even when I held you and you continued to cough every minute or so, trying so desperately to get whatever nasty gunk is camping out in your lungs out of your chest, I wasn't tired. I thought about it while we were rocking, walking, standing by the teapot as it poured steam out into the kitchen, wiping noses, and sipping water... that I would rather be doing this "all-nighter" with you than be anywhere else.

I guess that's what makes a mama a mama, huh? Where else or with whom else would you willingly, even joyfully, be coughed on, snotted on and a host of other lovely "sick kid" perks. Selfishly, I liked snuggling you- you are so busy now that snuggles come sporadically and I can't get enough of your warm little head on my shoulder, your soft cheeks, and your little hands burrowing for a warm spot on my chest. Someday, I keep reminding myself, you'll sleep sounder, deal with sickness more easily, and most certainly NOT be wanting your mamas arms wrapped tightly around you while you sleep. So, I'll soak this time up, thankyouverymuch. Every long late night hour of it.

Last night while we were working through "sick time", the house was so quiet. So dark. I left Daddy in our room but I know he wasn't sleeping. He wakes when you make noise too. Even though he trusts me to take care of your immediate needs, his ears are tuned in to baby too. Still, the house was still... except for you.

At 2 am last night, you looked like this:

So, this photo was taken during the day but that wild, can't stop movin', must play face was large and in charge last night around 2am. Love you, but can we go back to the snuggling? :)

Anyway, I would love to figure out how to keep you healthy. I don't know what I can do. AND to top it all off, I know I am guilty of snuggling you, smooching your soft amazing cheeks, and practicing blowing kisses with you even when I'm not feeling 100%. I CAN'T HELP IT!

So, I hope that you are enjoying daycare today, my love. I'm watching the snow fall and wishing I could go back to last night around 230am when you finally dozed off for a bit. You breathing was rattly but predictable, your arms were tucked in front of you while you rested on your belly on my chest. My arms feel empty without you sometimes, sweetheart. Like I've just dropped a package or bag that I'd been so used to carrying that I can't adjust to being without it.

Today, I'd love to watch the snow fall with you and drink hot chocolate, or cider and listen to Christmas carols by the tree. This time of year makes me hungry for quality time with you. And, if history has taught us anything by these last two months of "sick baby time", I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to snuggle you in these upcoming cold months. And, just so you know- I'm up for an all-nighter with you anytime, baby girl.

I love you, beautiful.
Mama

Alright Mamas, any tricks to keeping your kids healthy over the winter months? During daycare? I've heard something about saline in the nose... humidifiers- etc. What's your best trick! I think I'm going to need it and I'm sure that there are other mamas out there who could benefit from your wisdom!

Love!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dear Gemma- a love letter



Dear Gemma,

Today is Thanksgiving and I though I'd write a little note to you. Someday, maybe I'll print all this out, tie it up with pretty ribbon and present it to you as evidence of how you rocked my world. My words don't do you justice, sweetheart.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude today- everywhere I look it seems that my life is filled to the brim with sweetness. I just read a great book by Shauna Niequist called Bittersweet that met me right where I am. The little vignettes that she led me through made me so aware of the presence of both the bitter and sweet in life. I really like how she said that the sweet is no less sweet when there is a sliver of bitter present.

Right now, your daddy and I are passing through some bitter waters. He still looks for a job doing what he feels calls to do and I pray and cheer and hope and pray and cheer and comfort as he continues to search. Even though this bitter season of job hunting is stressful and preoccupying, we do find GREAT joy in each other and in you, my love.

Gemma, you are like a ripple of laughter that opens up across a space, capturing us all in it's giggle and letting us loose with hope. I long to see your face in the morning, hear your yells and new words during the day, and coos as I sing you to sleep. You are in the midst of a season of great discovery. I can tell this because you keep looking at things with wide open eyes and then at me filled with your silly words- you ask me unintelligible questions and expect a clear response. Sometimes I can't help but answer back seriously with garbled words and shocked expression. It's like speaking a different language, you and I. We chatter and have conversations that leave you satisfied and me utterly confused but filled with love.

You are growing so much right now too, darling. Your feet are getting big, your hair is getting longer, your belly is always puffing out over your diaper like Santa Claus. You run now... did I tell you that? You run, Gemma... that's what it's called when Rosie chases you and you squint your eyes shut and move your feet really fast and unpredictably towards the hall. Most of the time Rosie never touches you, but when she does, Violet barks at her to back off, you scream and giggle which only encourages her to chase you again. You three will be best friends forever, I'm sure.

Your daddy thinks your beautiful... he says it all the time, tells you how special you are, how smart and strong you are. I hope we cover you with compliments all the time. You really are beautiful, smart, and strong. I see glimpses of the woman you will be when you stomp your feet and stand your ground... when you rest your head on my shoulder, give hugs, and look deep into my eyes and smile. You amaze me, sweet one. You amaze me all the time.

You love to say "nanas" when you want a banana and "ca-caw" when you want a cracker. And when I ask you to say "milk" you just sign it instead. You make me laugh all the time... and you make me cry. This last week while you were sick, while I was up with you all night breathing in your sour sick smell, I let little tears loose over you... it's shocking how it hurts me physically to see you in pain. Sometimes I think I can't bear it for all the love I have towards you. Sometimes I think I will go crazy thinking about how important you are to me. Sometimes I think, "hey, I got this under control"... wait- who am I kidding? I NEVER feel that way!

I know that sometimes I get frustrated and overwhelmed and snarky. I'm so sorry- you deserve more than an anxious mama and I'm working on that, I promise. I start every day new, or I try to at least, with the rising of the sun there is a rising in my spirit. A newness, forgiveness, a do-over... A promise to play more, and play right, and lead more, and teach more, and give more, and take less... and then, in the quiet of the night, hushed prayers fall out of my mouth- songs of praise, laments for forgiveness, and nuggets of thanksgiving to the God of creation who knit you together and handed you to me to grow and raise and eventually let go. What was He thinking? I mean seriously, how could I ever be enough?

I guess that's the beauty of knowing that you are God's precious child first- I don't have to be enough... it's impossible... but He is enough. He will always be there, always love you just the right way, always guide you, always support you, appropriately discipline you, set healthy boundaries, let you fly when the time is right...

I am a poor man's representation of divine love, pumpkin. And if what I feel is the small version of love for you- it's mind-bending to imagine what God feels for you, sweet jewel. My deepest hope for you is that you find security in the presence and promises of God. He is so good, my sweet girl, so good.

I'm sure in the next few weeks you'll get more teeth, new words, bumps on heads and elbows, colds and sleepless nights, and lots more giggles, hugs and snuggles. I am overjoyed to be on this journey with you, Gemma. You make me a better person, a more repentant person, a more forgiving person... I pray I do the same for you.

And your daddy? Well, we lucked out didn't we, baby? He's pretty amazing and I know you see it... you show him that you love him by resting your little head on his chest, calling out "da DA" in the morning, and grabbing his toes. I pray that someday you'll wear a ring on your left hand that comes from a man like your daddy- a humble, hard-working, patient, faithful, honest, loving, and supportive man- and I pray that he'll hold your hand while you fall asleep, just like your daddy does with me.


Gemma, I'm so thankful for you every day, but especially today- while we celebrate with family and friends all good gifts. You are the best present I ever got...

I love you, I love you, I love you...
Mama


Will you write a love letter to your baby(ies)? I'm thinking of making this a consistent practice. Someday, I may just wrap them up and give them to her so that in her darkest moments she can read of God's promises, my love for her and her innate worth.

Happy Thanksgiving, Mamas. I'm thankful for all of you too. Hug your little ones.

S