Labor of Love

It’s easy to say that it was all in God’s plan and that, in the end, it really doesn’t matter how he got here, both of which are completely true. But, in that moment, I needed to feel the disappointment. I needed to feel the loss of what I had imagined to be the picture perfect moment that defined the beginning of this chapter of my life. It was okay that I felt what I felt, as long as I knew deep down that, all along, it wasn’t really up to me.

I planned for the moment he was placed immediately on my bare chest, those first breaths of his mixed with the huge sigh of relief of mine. I wanted the first thing he felt in this brand new world to be the tender kisses I’d been so anxious to give him for 9 long months. I couldn’t wait to strengthen our bond by offering my breast as soon as we met. I didn’t want any bathing, weighing, or poking and prodding until I got to study every inch of his tiny body and imprint that moment in my mind for the rest of my life. It was going to be beautiful and powerful, the most important moment in my life right along side the day I said, “I do”.

So, at about 4 o’clock in the evening, (after being at the hospital since 10pm the night before) when the nurse said it was time to push, I was ready. It was time to meet our son, and I was more anxious than ever. About 20 minutes in, I learned that my little boy had tons of hair, which as a hairdresser, was very welcomed news! I couldn’t believe it. This was really happening, I was finally about to meet my baby boy!

Then it was 5 o’clock. Then 6 o’clock. Then 7. I had literally pushed and pushed every, single time I contracted for 3 hours straight. My Doctor said he had passed his limit, and that it was time for a c-section. I, on the other hand, had not. Even while nearly falling asleep between contractions due to overwhelming exhaustion, I wasn’t giving up. WHAT ABOUT MY PLAN?! I was then given about 45 minutes to an hour more to “rest” because it just so happened that the OR had just been filled with another c-section. But, instead of resting, (as advised by my Doc) I pushed. And pushed. And pushed harder than I ever had. It wasn’t until my sweet little (or not so little) baby boy started showing distress on the heart monitor that I gave in… but I didn’t give in easily.

I had never felt so disappointed in my life. I can’t even put into words how completely helpless and heartbroken I felt that I wasn’t able to do the only thing I was supposed to do in that moment. Even as I sit here and type through blurry, tear-filled eyes, I remember the guilt and aching in my heart. I cried for the remaining few minutes I had left before I would be wheeled into the OR. My husband, mother, and mother-in-law were all so wonderful, they were so encouraging even when their hearts hurt for me because they knew how much I wanted it. I could feel the love and support radiating from the waiting room, where the rest of my family anxiously awaited his arrival.

Then, I was swept into the OR, where the change in energy was strange. The lights were brighter and there were what seemed like 50 people hustling and bustling around me as I stared at a blue paper sheet in front of my face, shielding me from what was about to happen. After what seemed like a life time passed, the moment came when my life changed forever. The moment I heard that strong yet tiny little cry coming from the most precious baby in the world. I caught glimpses from afar as they wiped him down, Brendan cut the cord, and he was wrapped tightly in a blanket. Then, at last, we met. For just a few glorious minutes, I looked my whole world in the eyes and kissed his soft little cheeks. He wasn’t crying anymore, in fact, the moment he heard his Daddy’s voice, he was calm and still. It was, hands down, the most beautiful moment of my life.

They then took him to the nursery with Daddy right beside him, to bathe and weigh him while they finished my surgery and took me to recovery. In recovery, they brought him for a few moments to breastfeed, then took him away again until I was well enough to be taken to our room and be reunited with my husband and little baby boy.

It really was all in God’s hands. Baby J was not only a  9lb 5oz baby, but he was also in a bad position for delivery. In fact, at that angle it was possible that he could have really been hurt even if I had been able to push him out. After all was said and done, we more than made up for those few moments of bonding that we missed in the very beginning. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome, regardless of what plan I thought I had. I thank God every, single day for the beautiful, healthy baby boy He gave me. It was the first lesson learned, that there are very few things you can actually plan for in this crazy adventure called parenting. I am acutely aware that there will be many surprises and changes along the way, and I couldn’t be less prepared or more excited for each and every one of them.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5

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Dare to Compare

baby photo grid

As if being a new parent isn’t hard enough, I think sometimes we make it even harder by comparing ourselves to others. I’m not referring to swapping stories or asking for advice, I’m talking about that little voice inside our heads that makes us question whether we’re doing it right or not, or if someone else is doing it better (or worse) than we are. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve wondered at times if J is up to par with the rest of his little friends and whether I’m as good of a parent as some of mine. While I think it is somewhat natural, I think it can be unproductive and add more pressure on ourselves than necessary!

Every baby is so, completely different. Before they are even born, they quite obviously have a personality of their own. I think we sometimes forget that they’re little humans just like we are, they’re not robots that we can program! Babies are ever-changing! Just when you think you’ve figured them out, they change! What works for them one day might not the next!

There is no right answer. No parenting book written can offer the perfect advice for every single baby. Different parenting styles or ideas work for different personalities. It makes it hard when we compare our own babies with other people’s because they’re not the same person!! While one might be just fine in a swing or bouncer while you do a few things around the house, another might want to be held and carried! While one baby might love the swaddle, pacifier, or other types of soother, another might be perfectly content without. That doesn’t make one a “happier” or “better” baby than the other or, it just makes them “different” and aren’t we all?

I feel like instead of constantly comparing ourselves to each other, we need to be supportive and celebrate our differences.  No judging  for doing things differently, just understanding that every mom, child, and situation is different, and that’s what makes this life so dynamic and interesting. We’re just doing the best we can for our little ones, and we’re all in it together.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works – Psalm 104:31

Photo By:  Betsy Hawley of Snap Lovely Photography

Gadgets and Gizmos Aplenty

 

When you decide to have your first baby, I think the assumption is that you must have at least one of everything for them by the time they arrive. You think you need to fill your home with the latest and greatest and if you don’t, your baby will somehow know something’s missing. Other than the obvious essentials such as a car seat, crib or bassinet, clothes, diapers, and blankets what else do you actually need? Do you have to have a swing or bouncer, monitor, bathtub, or every type of stroller on the market before they even make their big debut?

I was happy to find when baby J came home with us, that he thoroughly enjoyed the swing. It’s nothing spectacular, in fact, it was given to us by some friends that no longer needed it for their kids. I thought then, maybe we should go buy a bigger, fancier swing with an array of musical choices, flashing lights, dangling toys and can swing every which way. Luckily, the minimalist in me realized that what we had was more than enough, because 3 months later, J wants little to do with it.

While we’re still in the market for a good monitor, (for the day I’m able to handle J sleeping more than 12 inches from me)  I’m glad we didn’t go out right away and buy the most advanced technology money can buy. As much as that goes against everything my husband would normally believe in, (he’s kind of an electronics geek) we’ve yet to be in a situation where we can’t hear even the faintest cry from the other room.

We were given a basic bath tub from another couple of friends, which we’ve used exactly 5 times so far. As J gets older, I can absolutely see the necessity for a tub or chair, but I’m very glad we didn’t go crazy with a spa bath or some other “super soother” kind of thing, because in my opinion, Mommy or Daddy’s arms during bath time is the most “soothing” place to be.

After thinking way too much about it, we realized that we could get away with just one stroller to fit our lifestyle. We realized that for now, the only time we’ll really want a stroller is for walking the strand at the beach or jogging through the neighborhood. So, when J was around 2 months old, we went out and got a jogger stroller that is also compatible with our infant car seat. It’s easy to set up and breakdown and fairly compact. We’ve found that for most other situations we’ve been in so far, wearing him in a carrier has been the easiest choice for us!

Now that J is a little older (sad, but true) he’s really enjoying his playmat and since he fell in love with my friend Kelli’s walker, we just ordered his own, so I’ll post about it when it comes!!

I’m happy we decided to make purchases (or accept hand-me-downs) as J needed things, instead of going out and getting everything “they” say you need. I like the idea that instead of having 15 different things to keep my baby occupied, I have spent the majority of our days being his main source of entertainment. Honestly, his favorite toys to play with right now are my face and hands, and his favorite thing to stare at is our reflections in the mirror! So, up to this point, no “flashing lights”  have been required.

 

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

DIY Clever Coffee Mug

DIY sharpie coffee mug

Ok, this is the easiest DIY project ever! All you need is: a sharpie marker, coffee mug, and just a tiny bit of creativity! Brendan and his co-workers use the phrase “like a boss” quite frequently, and in light of Brendan’s recent promotion, I decided he needed to have it on a mug for his daily coffee. We actually already had plain white mugs, so the cost was nothing! It was super easy, I just drew the design with a sharpie, then fired the mug in the oven at 200º for 30 minutes!

Here is the tutorial I followed!

“Commit your work to the LORD, and then your plans will succeed.” – Proverbs 16:3


Posted in DIY

DIY Paper Crane Mobile

As many of you know, I have some Japanese in my family heritage. So, when I was trying to come up with an idea to hand-make a mobile for baby J’s nursery, I couldn’t think of  anything better and more beautiful than peace cranes! I have seen many already made for sale on Etsy, but since I wanted to make a personal touch (and had plenty of time to do so, since I was on bed rest), I decided to make one myself!

I have a few old Venture traveling books from the 1960’s sitting on my bookshelf, so I decided to use some of the pages from the books to create a more worn/vintage look to the cranes. I picked some pages with mostly text, some with big colorful ads, and some with maps. For the colored pages, I chose to go with mostly burnt oranges and light blues to go with the colors in J’s nursery.

After watching a tutorial on YouTube on how to fold a peace crane, I practiced on some scrap papers until I felt confident, then started folding away! I was deciding between several ways I wanted to hang the cranes, but thanks to the supply from a great friend of mine, Kelli, I decided to use a photo clip mobile!

Although it doesn’t have any flashing lights or play any melodies, baby J loves it!! He just stares at it, smiles and talks to it! I’m so happy I decided to make it for him, it was actually very enjoyable and relaxing, and gave me an opportunity to sit and daydream about my sweet, little baby that would be laying in his crib, enjoying it in just a few short weeks!

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” – Isaiah 12:2

Posted in DIY

Sunday Afternoon Guacamole

As long as I can remember, tradition in my family growing up was something we called “Sunday Sandwiches”. When church would let out, we would head to the store, get fresh deli meats, delicious baked bread rolls, and the  ingredients needed to make a fresh batch of homemade guacamole.  The recipe has evolved some over the years, but has certainly continued to be a tradition in my own family as an adult. With the best local avocados available at my fingertips and farmer’s markets offering the  juiciest  tomatoes, sweetest onions, and the most crisp cilantro out there, how could I not?

It’s summer time, which is when the avocados are ripe and abundant here in Southern California, which, for that reason alone, easily makes summer one of my favorite seasons. Although it’s a simple recipe with simple ingredients, I thought I’d share with you for no other reason than to celebrate God’s wonderful gift to us of the fruits and vegetables of  His earth!

What you’ll need: (all of the measurements I use are approximate, I never actually measure when I make it)

4-6 ripe avocados ( you can tell if an avocado is ripe (but not over-ripe) by flicking the stem off to see the color of flesh under, see here)

3-4 roma tomatoes very coarsely chopped (I like a lot of texture in my guac, you can chop more finely for smoother over-all texture)

1/2  large sweet texas onion chopped to your preferred consistency (sometimes I’ll use 1/2 large purple onion instead)

2-3 fresh garlic cloves finely chopped (almost minced)

1- fresh jalapeño finely chopped (optional if you’re not into heat)

1/2 bundle of cilantro (remove all stems and coarsely chop remaining leaves)

Juice from 1 lemon

Salt & Pepper to taste

Most (ok, all) of the work is in the prep… lots of chopping, but it’s worth it!! If you have some kind of chopper, go for it! I like to chop all the ingredients individually for consistency, myself!

Start with mashing the avocado in a large mixing bowl first, so when you add the other ingredients, the avocado will be distributed consistently with the rest of the ingredients.

Then add the chopped tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro and lemon.

Salt & Pepper to taste, then enjoy with tortilla chips or whatever else sounds good at the time! Perfect for a warm, sunny football Sunday!

FUN FACT! Did you also know that you can halve and store ripe avocados in freezer bags to prolong avocado season in your household? Who would’ve thought?!

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Carrying My Love With Me

When shopping for baby stuff, I knew I wanted some kind of wrap or sling for my little one, but when I came to that section in the stores or did Google searches, I was so overwhelmed!! There are so many different styles to choose from, I didn’t know where to begin! Wrap slings, carriers, ring slings, hip carriers, buckle slings… the list goes on and on!

I had heard good things about the Moby Wrap from several sources, so that was the easiest choice… but was it the best choice for me?  I was a little overwhelmed with all the wrapping you have to do, I was afraid I would do it wrong! When there are several YouTube tutorials teaching you how to wrap it correctly, you know you’re in for just one more thing to have to practice (as if being a brand new mommy isn’t enough to worry about).

I’m not discounting that, once mastered, the Moby wouldn’t have been fantastic,  but when I was gifted a baby carrier I had never even heard of called the K’tan Baby Carrier, my decision was made! It was by far the easiest (and cutest) “wrap without all the wrapping” I had ever tried!! I wear it to the grocery store, the beach, cleaning house, and I even wore him through the airport!  So many people stop me to ask where I got it and what it is called, because it’s so compact and stylish, sometimes people are shocked to find there’s a baby in there! I’m always happy to share the info and I always rave about it to anyone who will listen, so I decided to share it with you as well!

“The Baby K’tan Baby Carrier is a uniquely designed soft cotton carrier. It can be worn in all the same positions as a wrap, without the hassle of wrapping! The K’tan is made of two loops of cotton which are connected by a third smaller loop called the Back Support Band. This ergonomic and stylish design allows the carrier to be worn in multiple positions, all without any complicated wrapping or buckling. It is a cross between a sling and a structured front baby carrier, offering the positions and benefits of both! The Baby K’tan offers unparalleled comfort, safety & convenience!” – babyktan.com

You can get it at babyktan.com amazon.com, or some places like Target offer online purchasing only. At a great price (around $50-60) and with several color and fabric choices to choose from, my mind was made up and I’ve never looked back! I wear baby J to the grocery store, to the beach, and even to clean the house! He absolutely loves it and so do I! What’s your favorite carrier?

But if anyone loves God, he is known by God- 1 Corinthians 8:3