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Welcome, Hailey Rose!

Dear baby girl,

You are here!

After 39 weeks of expectantly and eagerly waiting for your arrival, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect little angel. Our beautiful Hailey Rose is here!

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Our beautiful Hailey Rose

We couldn’t have planned for a more seamless labor and delivery process. My doctor gave me the option to be induced a week early, so I took it. I worked right up until the day before you came, and early in the morning 18 days ago your daddy drove me to the hospital. We dropped your big sister off at daycare on our way, and she was excited that her baby sister would be joining our family later that day!

I was originally planning to deliver at the same hospital your sister was born at, but they called the day before and asked if I would be willing to deliver at a different hospital or wait to be induced until the following week. I was SO ready for your arrival that I didn’t hesitate to switch locations.

We checked in to Methodist West shortly before 7:30 am. The hospital was peaceful and quiet on the maternity floor, and it matched my emotions going into the process. I had this sense of calm within me leading up to and throughout my labor, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the staff and nurses at the hospital making sure everything went smoothly.

I was induced shortly before 8 am, and it felt like time flew before I knew I was ready to give birth. Sure enough, you were born just a few short hours later at 11:33 am.

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Mommy and Hailey

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Daddy and Hailey

Your daddy stayed with me for a few hours after delivery before going to pick up your sister from daycare. I was so excited for Hannah to meet you for the first time.

When Daddy and Hannah arrived you were getting your vitals checked, and your big sister loved seeing and being a part of the process.

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Hannah holds Hailey’s hand while she gets her vitals checked¬†

Words cannot describe the feelings I had when we had our whole family together. Seeing your big sister covering you affectionately with kisses. Watching your daddy help Hannah hold you. Seeing him fall naturally into his new role as a father of two precious girls.

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Daddy and the girls

My time in the hospital went by quickly, and before I knew it I was getting ready to go home with my two girls.

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Mommy and the girls

We came home the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and we were so thankful to have family come be with us the following week. Your grandma visited for a few days, and then Gammie, your Auntie Katie, Uncle Brad, Ethan and Brennan came up to celebrate a belated Thanksgiving. We loved having everyone visit.

After a full week and the Thanksgiving holiday, your big sister went back to “school” and your daddy stayed home with me for the second week. And now, we are on our own, just the two of us, for the rest of my maternity leave.

I’m grateful for all the things I learned the first time around. And I’m even more grateful that you are letting me get a little sleep at night. I don’t expect it to last. ūüôā

I’m a lot more calm this time, and I have an amazing tribe of family and friends around me. We are so blessed to have them surround us with love. And we are beyond blessed to have our second daughter, we are so in love with you. Welcome to the world, Hailey Rose.

With love,

Momma

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Perfect love.

Dear baby girl,

This week, I experienced one of my favorite moments with you yet.

I was getting you ready for bed a couple nights ago (Monday, April 11 to be exact) when you looked at me, gave me a hug and said, “I love you” as you squeezed me tight.

My heart melted on the spot.

You’ve said I love you to me before, but from what I can tell you were mostly just repeating it or saying it because I’ve asked you to say it. I figured you kind of had an idea of what it meant since I show you affection through kisses and hugs as I say I love you. But for you to willingly offer those words to me out of the blue, in a way that made me know that you meant to speak them intentionally to me, made my heart soar.

I am so thankful for and blessed by our mother-daughter relationship. The way you look at me and love me with such reckless abandon. The way I love you unconditionally. This is the relationship that God longs for me to have with Him. And for you to have with Him, too.

God doesn’t want us to love Him because He asks us to. He wants us to love Him because it is our response to His love for us. Just like your¬†love for me is a result of me pouring out myself and showing you my love.

I pray that I would continue to see and experience God in new ways as I grow as a mom. And I pray that you would know and experience this same love of God someday. We’ve started saying prayers together every night, and you love to sing the Jesus song.

Baby girl, I pray that you may experience the kindness and goodness of our loving Father. I pray that you will find your identity in Him and not in anything in this world.

I love you so much, and I am so thankful for your love for me. Thank you for showing me just how beautiful and perfect love can be.

With love,

Momma

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Almost Two.

Dear baby girl,

Here we are, almost 22 months in. But¬†I no longer speak in months — I say¬†“almost 2” or “she’ll be 2 in November” to those who ask.

School has started and we are in the “dog days” of summer, soaking up every last day of sunshine and warmth until cool, crisp days of fall settle in. While we will still be able to enjoy being outside on the weekends, pretty soon the days will be short and the evenings will be spent attempting to burn your energy indoors before winding down for bed.

Energetic. That’s one word I would use to describe you these days. You are constantly on the move, whether walking, running, climbing or even dancing. As you would say, you like to “Go go go” and it’s never a dull moment with you. Whether we are playing at the park, going for walks together or dancing in the kitchen, we are finding ways to be active and burn off your loads of energy.

Talkative. You continue to amaze me with your rapidly expanding vocabulary. You speak in full sentences these days, ranging from “Thank you, Mommy!” to “Daddy takes a shower; Hannah takes a bath.” What amazes me more is your ability to comprehend even more than you speak. I can tell you understand most of what I am saying to you, and you continue to ask me “Wa-wa” (What’s that?) so you can learn more about the world around you.

Curious. You’ve always had a desire to learn about and see what’s going on around you. You have a natural curiosity to know what Mommy and Daddy are doing, and you want to be a part of it. You want to know¬†everything and everyone around you. You are an avid people watcher, and once you overcome your initial shyness of meeting people, you will talk to anyone. You want to learn names and love to tell me about your friends at daycare and in the nursery at church.

You have such a zest for life these days, enjoying so many things. Here are just a few of your favorites (cue Julie Andrews):

Going to the park. You love the¬†swing (aka “sing sing”),¬†going down the slide and constantly being on the move. You are asking on a daily basis if you can go swing at the park. And if the weather’s great, how can we resist?

Elmos and monkeys. You just recently started watching TV, and it seems to be on a pretty regular basis that you are asking to watch Elmos (Sesame Street) and monkeys (Curious George). You don’t typically watch¬†much during the day, but it’s really cute to see you get excited and dance along to the music of your favorite shows.

RIce Krispies (aka “Krissies”) are your number one food request. A close second: bars. Granola bars and breakfast bars. Your love for Cheerios is slowly fading and being replaced by other breakfast foods. Yet you still won’t eat eggs. Maybe someday. Your favorite dinner menu item is still spaghetti (aka “sketties”).

Balls in all shapes and sizes. Since a young age you have loved playing with balls – small ones you play with indoors and larger ones you play with outdoors. Your daddy and I invested in a¬†basketball¬†hoop that you’ve used a few times, but you mostly just enjoy rolling and throwing them around, or simply holding them in your hands. Sometimes you like to play the game of seeing how many you can hold at once. I think your personal record is four. ūüôā

Puzzles (aka “pubbles”). You have gotten really good at putting together your favorite Elmo and Big Bird puzzle, plus you enjoy a few that grandma gave you when she recently visited. You like to do your “pubbles” just about every day.

Affection. You are full of affection and love giving hugs and kisses to Mommy and Daddy. You even blow kisses to others and hug your friends. One of your favorite things to do these days is hold hands with both Mommy and Daddy when we are walking together. I love the affection you share – it makes me feel so loved and that I’m doing a good job at showing you love as your momma. More than anything, I want you to be secure in my love for you, for you to know that you are so incredibly loved by me and your daddy.

We’ve seen so many changes in you in just the past few months — ¬†I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

With love,

Momma

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Toddler life: Almost 18 months

Dear baby girl,

I was going to wait until 18 months to write an update, but with so many changes in your world lately, this seems long overdue.

The past few months have been a whirlwind as I have had one foot surgery and now another, keeping me off of my feet and unable to do as much as I used to. As hard as it has been for me as a momma who may have slight control tendencies, I have come to realize that there is more than one way to do laundry, and your daddy can still pick out a pretty cute outfit for you to wear for the day. There may be days where you’ve been in PJs most of the¬†day, but those are also the days I’ve been able to spend with you while your daddy does yard work¬†and¬†projects around the house¬†all while doing laundry and making dinner in between getting you up in the morning and ready for bed.

I read this quote in an article today, which made me even more incredibly thankful for your daddy through this process:

“Throughout these trying times, I’ve come to find out that marriage and parenting is never 50/50. And you know what? Thank God for that. There are so many times one of us feels as if we’re giving more than “our share,” but the truth of the matter is, when one of us isn’t able to give our owed portion, the other makes up for it. And that’s the pure beauty and absolute phenomenon to an ever-changing and an ever unequal balance of this thing called family.”

Needless to say, our whole family¬†will be ready for things to be normal again soon. It’s been harder for you after this second surgery,¬†as you are understanding more that Momma has a “boo-boo” this time around and that I am¬†unable to do some of the things with you that I¬†used to.

You’ve also become increasingly aware of your surroundings and are able to communicate so much more than just a couple months ago. Your¬†vocabulary has exploded from a few words to¬†a few dozen, and I can tell you know so much more than you are able to say. It seems you are learning a new word each day, from telling us what the cow says to repeating “I see you!” when we peek at each other. One of my favorite new things you’ve learned is your name. We’ll ask you where mommy and daddy are, and you’ll point at each of us and say our names. Then we’ll ask you where Hannah is and you’ll point at yourself and say your name with glee. SO. CUTE.

You’ve enjoyed recent visits with family, seeing¬†both grandmas and cousins. We visited Gammie in Omaha a few weeks ago, where we enjoyed a weekend of sunshine, eating good food and shopping. We then had a brief visit with your cousins Ethan and Brennan and Auntie Katie when they passed through town. We enjoyed a lunch together and a visit to the park behind our house. You and the boys loved it, and I enjoyed seeing you all spending time playing together and catching up with your auntie.

For Easter we visited your daddy’s family. It was a short but fun trip which included Easter dinner with your grandma, Auntie Laura, Uncle Kenn and cousins Sophia and Landon. You and Sophia are two peas and love hanging out together. We enjoyed a pancake brunch at church and grilling out before heading home. Our trip home was a little longer than normal, as we ended up having some car problems, leaving us stranded at a gas station for a couple hours. Ironically, you loved the adventure and exploring the area. Your favorite part was the tow truck ride home.

Easter with Daddy

Easter with Daddy

It seems to be never a dull moment around here lately, but for the most part we’re taking everything in stride. In just a few¬†weeks I should be back to normal and we’ll be that much closer to summer. I can’t wait to get out and explore with you and do fun things together, like visiting the farmers’ market and the zoo. I love seeing the world through your eyes and the joy you experience through discovery and play. It reminds me to slow down, appreciate the simple things and every moment I get to share with you.

With love,

Momma

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Mom life: Lessons learned

Dear baby girl,

It only took me nine months to get here, but I am becoming a confident momma.

I’m sure I’ll still have plenty of doubts for years to come, but I am finally to the point where I feel like I know a bit about what I’m doing, and even if I don’t, I’m realizing that’s okay, too.

I’ve learned that it’s okay if you occasionally miss a nap or stay up way past your bedtime. It’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world, either. Sometimes when you miss a nap it’s because we’re already out and about or traveling and you’re out of your routine. If you fight a nap, sometimes I take advantage of extra time together with a trip out shopping or to the park. I discovered that you’ll sleep eventually. And when you do, it’s really darn cute.

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I’ve also learned that it’s okay to trust my instincts. Dare I say it’s okay to do what I want. I may not do everything that is recommended by the experts, but that’s okay, too. That doesn’t mean I’m not looking out for your safety and health first and foremost.

I’ve learned to embrace each moment as your momma, even when it’s tough. You’re still waking up at night to nurse, which is only once before you are up for the day. Even though I like my sleep, I know that someday I will look back on this time and miss our middle of the night snuggle sessions when all is quiet and it feels like we’re the only two people in the world. I know that each age and stage of your life will come with its share of challenges,¬†but they will also come with incredible gifts and memories to last a lifetime.

I’ve learned it’s okay to nurse you to sleep. I don’t do it all the time, but most nights I still do. Is it not a great habit? Sure. Will it be hard to break you of it? Probably. But do I love the time we have together, and do I know that you enjoy¬†it, too? Absolutely. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

On the flip side, I have learned that it’s okay to let you cry it out. I don’t nurse you before naps, and you gave up the pacifier at 4 months old, so naps are a time where we have to let you cry. Sometimes it’s only for a minute or two, other times it takes a while. Sometimes you don’t cry and talk to yourself before dozing off. (Which is seriously cute.) Does it still hurt me to hear you cry? With every fiber of my being. But do I know that you are okay, healthy, safe and secure? Yes. I know that you are tired and just don’t want to sleep. You don’t want to miss out on the fun of discovering the world around you, practicing your skills and meeting new milestones.

I have learned that motherhood is both the hardest job and the greatest gift. Being a momma is the hardest job I have ever had. It demands 24/7 attention and requires me to make stressful decisions. I have my moments where it plagues me with guilt that I might be doing something wrong or that I am not doing the best job that I could. It’s easy to get caught up in what we feel like we need or ought to be. I wonder if I am doing enough, being present enough, loving enough.

But then I realize I am more than enough in your eyes. I have learned¬†that there is no “perfect mom” camp to be in. Sometimes it feels that way, but I have to remind myself there is reason there’s the saying that “Momma knows best.” Being able to love and provide for you is the most wonderful, rewarding experience, and it fills my heart with so much joy.

The biggest thing I have learned, that I will always hold close to my heart, is that being a mother requires sacrifice and selflessness. It is in this giving of myself for you that I have received the greatest gift of all: your love for me.

With love,
Momma

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Motherhood.

Dear baby girl,

Every night before I go to bed, I check to make sure you are okay. I peek inside your bedroom door and watch you sleep in the soft glow of the night light, waiting to see you shift in your crib, listening closely for the softness of your breath in between the ticks of the bathroom clock.

I sometimes creep into your room quietly for that certainty, placing my hand lightly on your back (you love to sleep on your belly even though I place you on your back every night), waiting to feel the rise and fall of your breath. Sometimes you’ll let out a high-pitched sigh as you exhale, your sweet tune lingering in the air.

There is a peace that fills me as I watch you sleep, and for a moment my worries vanish, because all that exists in that moment is my love for you.

As much as I’d like to tell you that every moment is pure bliss as a mother, that wouldn’t be true. Every day has its challenges, whether it’s fighting naps and bed time, dealing with inexplicable fussiness or the pain you’re experiencing from getting new teeth. Add in the stress of trying to make the right decisions for you,¬†from your sleeping patterns¬†to your eating habits and everything in between, it¬†can be¬†easy to feel overwhelmed.

Every day, at the end of the day, I have to remind myself that I am your momma, and I am making decisions that I feel are best for you. In your peaceful sleeping state, I am reminded and know that you are loved, cared for and thriving because of how your daddy and I are taking care of you.

Some nights I may have spent a couple hours trying to put you to bed, watching as you try to play and are distracted by everything around you, rather than going to sleep. Sometimes I may get up and leave you for a few moments, either letting you cry and settle yourself down or waiting and going back in if necessary. It never gets easier letting you cry, which is why I am not always consistent. I want nothing more than for you to be a happy baby, and I strive to make decisions I feel are best in the moment. It may take a few tries and some patience, but when you settle down, you and I share the most beautiful time together before you go to sleep. There is nothing more perfect than watching you and holding you in my arms.

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about parenthood, it is that there is no one right way to parent a child. I look at you and your needs, trust my instincts and do what I feel is best to help you grow and thrive. Some decisions are more difficult to make than others. Some days I feel like I have reached my limit, not wanting to listen to you cry but not wanting to rescue you, feeling like I just need to breathe for a few moments.

As a parent, just when you think you’ve reached the end of yourself and you have nothing more to give, you are filled with an inexplicable strength, joy and unconditional love for your child, far greater than you ever imagined possible. This is my every day life. This is motherhood.

That is why every night, before I go to bed, I don’t just check to make sure you are still breathing. I also catch my breath and slowly exhale, letting out my worries. I inhale¬†strength and let my spirit be restored¬†and filled with peace as I watch you sleep.¬†I can’t help but smile as I watch you, your perfect, pure innocence captured in your closed eyes, pursed lips and soft breaths.

My smile lingers as I go to bed, and I close my eyes thinking of you, looking forward to sharing tomorrow together.

With love,

Momma