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My new baby girl.

Dear baby girl,

Today, I write not to my big baby girl, but to the baby girl yet to join our family. The one who is squirming and kicking around inside my belly, as though you are eagerly anticipating your arrival into this world.

Baby girl, I feel like I owe you an apology. I’m sure it’s completely normal, but I feel like I have been so busy and exhausted this pregnancy, it’s been hard for me to just rest and completely focus on you. Your life inside of me. You becoming ready to enter this world and our family.

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I couldn’t be more thrilled for Hannah to have a baby sister. I just know she is going to love you as much as your Daddy and I will. She will care for you and want to help you just as much as she wants to help Mommy and Daddy. I can’t wait to see how the two of you are together.

I feel like my days are currently consumed with work and mom life, and it’s been such a whirlwind that I’ve hardly been able to just enjoy being pregnant. Feeling your very excited kicks flutter around within me. You are much more active than I remember your sister being. I have a feeling you are going to have even more energy than your sister and will keep us on our toes!

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The second half of my pregnancy (which is actually more than half over, I’m 23 weeks already!), I hope to slow down more. Notice you. Feel you. Talk and sing to you. Actually start planning for your arrival-I should probably figure out your big sister’s room and get a few special things just for you for the nursery. And of course finally come to an agreement with your daddy on a name. We’ve got a little time on that one.

It feels like this pregnancy has flown by, and I know it’s just going to keep getting faster the closer I get to my due date. With each week, my belly grows bigger and your movements become more regular. I seem to be growing at a much faster pace than last time!

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Everything seems to be going more quickly. I am hardly counting the weeks, in fact, I have forgotten at one point already how far along I am. I guess that’s a sign this isn’t my first time. ūüôā¬†But that’s OK. Instead of counting down the weeks,¬†I am embracing them. With a thankful heart filled with joy and anticipation for your arrival. I couldn’t be more blessed to have another beautiful girl.

With love,

Momma

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Our breastfeeding journey.

Dear baby girl,

If someone¬†would have asked me nine months ago (a month in as a new momma) what I thought about breastfeeding, I would have told that person it was incredibly rewarding, but¬†that I didn’t know how much longer I would last.

You hear about all the amazing benefits of breastfeeding, but no one tells you about and nothing fully prepares you for the challenging parts of the experience. From getting you to latch on both sides to dealing with clogged ducts and oversupply issues, the first few months were pretty rough. The hardest part was seeing how my oversupply was affecting you, as you would gag and spit up every time you ate.

I felt like the worst mom and that I couldn’t fix it.

Thanks to some good advice from leaders in our local La Leche Leage group, I was able to figure out the steps to correct my issues. By the time you were three months old, we were finally starting to figure things out, and pretty soon, the hardest days were behind us.

Once we got into a groove, I really started to enjoy our time together. You would snuggle up into me and settle in for a good 30 minutes. I began to look forward to our time just the two of us, just enjoying the peace and quiet of the moment, a time for both of us to rest and just be still together.

Around month five, you began to discover that there was more to your world than just that which was near to you. There was more out there to explore, and you wanted to discover it. This made nursing a little more challenging, as you would get distracted easily. This got especially hard at bedtime, when all you would want to do is play instead of eat and settle down for bed.

It was frustrating, but I am so thankful that I didn’t give up.

It took a couple months, but we got through the hardest part of distracted, short nursing sessions. It took a lot of patience on my part, as well as realizing this was all new to you and that I am your comfort and guide through this entire journey.

At month ten, we are farther than I ever thought we would be when we started. You still get distracted, but we’ve figured out how to make it work for us. And now, my favorite part of the day is bedtime. Most nights lately you have been falling asleep while nursing. While some may say this isn’t a great habit to get into, I am okay with it. I know it will be hard to break you of, but I’m okay with that, too. I know that this time we share is limited, and I want to enjoy it while we can.

One of my favorite things is watching you slowly fall asleep, your long eyelashes kissing the tops of your cheeks. I love it when you take your hand and run it through your hair, or you lay it softly on my chest. Sometimes you grab onto my finger or you cover your face with your hand. A week ago you did something you haven’t done since you were a small baby and you let out several small coos and sighs as you fell asleep. My heart pretty much melted onto the floor. Then you began to snore softly. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

I love being able to watch you in those peaceful, quiet moments, when everything else in the world melts away. We sit in the dark, quiet nursery, your nightlight casting a soft glow in the room so I can see the features of your face. Your mouth purses open, as though you are softly kissing the air. You sigh your soft breaths as you slowly drift off to sleep, and I whisper to you just how much I love you.

I am embracing this time that we have together, and I am thankful that I am able to share it with you. Know that no matter where your journey leads you as a mother someday, there is no right or wrong decision, but whatever you feel is best to do for your children. I hope you know that my heart is filled with nothing but love as I care for and nurture you.

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

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Priorities.

Dear baby girl,

As I sat at the kitchen table on my computer last night, I glanced out the back window and saw pink and orange flames lighting up the crystal blue sky.

I was so struck¬†by the beauty that I stopped what I was doing and stepped outside. To get a better view beyond the trees in our backyard, I walked out in front of the house. The hues¬†streaked¬†across our¬†quiet street, beyond the rooftops¬†and trees. I continued to walk in the still silence of the late evening, feeling as though I were walking in a spotlight, yet with no audience watching. There wasn’t a person or creature in sight¬†as I slowly strolled down the sidewalk, hoping to catch more of a glimpse of the magnificent sunset. I didn’t even get a picture, as I left my phone and everything at home, completely caught up in the moment.

This beautiful, peaceful moment was just what I needed. In the midst of the chaos that is life, sometimes we need these moments. Moments where we can clearly see¬†beauty when all we want to do is¬†focus on the ugly. There are times when I feel like God orchestrates special moments like last night to remind me of His presence in my life, even when I don’t always feel it or see it. Sometimes we need these little reminders from God that He created the universe – and us – and He loves us more than we could ever imagine.

I need these reminders because it’s pretty easy to lose focus. Distractions call, seemingly demanding my attention from the present. Instead of letting my heart be content, I choose worry. Instead of embracing where I am at, I compare my life¬†to those around me. I let others’ priorities make mine feel inferior, wondering how I can make time to do or be more.

Last night the Creator reminded me that I am not inferior. None of us is inferior.

Throughout life, our priorities change. Circumstances change us. Life changes us – if we let it. We can face challenges and choose to be angry, bitter and remain the same person, blaming the world and being a victim. Or, we can choose to learn from hardships. They may feel like they define us, but really, it is the character that is shaped in us that defines us.

Priorities change. Seasons change. Our hearts, our passions and our priorities are what define us. It’s easy to get caught up in what we feel like we need or ought to be. I sometimes need the reminder that just because I am not the super-involved or Pinterest-cooking and crafting mom, doesn’t mean that I am not enough.

I look at you, and I know in your eyes, I am enough. In God, I am enough. And you, baby girl, you will always be enough.

You, family and God are my priorities. Why should I expect my priorities to match anyone else’s?¬†We all have our own lives, our own stories.

I tell you all of this so that you might hold on to these reminders and truths someday. I hope to share a lot more with you here along the way.

With love,

Momma

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Our big little girl.

Dear baby girl,

It’s been a pretty big week¬†around here as we’ve tried a couple new things: swimming and solids!

I shared the other day about your first swimming experience on Father’s Day, and I anticipate we’ll be doing it again this weekend as the weather continues to be hot and humid this week. Summer has hit in full force!

We also tried solids this week, as we felt you were showing us all the signs you were¬†ready (and let’s be honest, I¬†was finally ready, too). I didn’t take this decision lightly, which is why we waited until longer than the typical six months.

After talking to your doctor and doing some research, we decided¬†to offer you real food first instead of the typical cereal. The first thing we decided to try was bananas. You didn’t hate it, but your face said it all as to just how confused you were.

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But the more you tried it, the more you seemed to like it. You wanted to help Momma feed you. ūüôā

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Day two went even better than day one, and you ate even more bananas than the first night. Tonight we did decide to go the cereal route before we offer you your first veggie. You loved oatmeal Рyou wore some of it but did eat all of it!

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Your daddy and I are¬†proud of you! ūüôā Our big girl, growing up so fast!

In other development news, this week you are working really hard on pushing yourself up to sit up on your own. You get almost all the way up to sitting, supporting yourself with one hand, but then you decide to lie back down instead of pushing yourself all the way up. You’re so close; I have a feeling it will happen really soon.

You are also trying¬†to crawl on all fours, rather than the scooting you have been doing for the past few weeks. You’ll get yourself up on your hands and knees, rocking back and forth for a few minutes. It’s pretty darn¬†adorable, and I think you’re about to take off when you decide to lie down on your belly instead. When you do figure it out, we’re in trouble. ūüôā

It’s been one adventure after another around here lately, especially now that you’re more mobile than ever. Your personality is really starting to shine, and your daddy and I are sure enjoying seeing you discover the world around you. We’re having just as much fun as you are – being your parents is pretty awesome.

With love,

Momma

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Consistently inconsistent parenting.

Dear baby girl,

Since before you were born, I have found myself reading just about everything I can get my hands – and eyes – on. From researching car seats to cribs to nursing, I wanted to be prepared for your arrival as much as possible. I even found myself joining local Facebook groups on a variety of topics, from babywearing to thrifty spending to cloth diapering, following other parents’ questions and tips on a variety of issues. I subscribed to emails, read blogs and Googled more random things than I ever thought I would.

Do yourself a favor if and when you have a kid someday: don’t read everything.

While some information is useful and helpful, it’s easy to get information overload via the Internet. There are so many options – and opinions – about everything. No matter what you read, you will feel like you’re not doing it right, or that you’re not doing enough. Parenting “experts” will give you advice on how to ensure your baby is sleeping through the night or how to not scar your child for life.¬†Some parents will tell you to meet your baby’s every demand while others will tell you that your baby won’t learn independence through attachment parenting.

I’ve quickly discovered that parents are more judgmental than high school teenagers. Mommy bloggers and parenting experts galore¬†are quick to share their opinions, stories and successes, which usually involves a rant about¬†those who do things differently. It’s painful to read, and it’s unfortunate how guilty it makes mothers feel about their parenting choices.

Your daddy and I don’t subscribe to a certain parenting method or lifestyle.¬†We babywear and¬†use a stroller. We cloth diaper¬†at home¬†and use disposables when out and about. We let you cry to sleep sometimes, and I nurse you to sleep. We don’t have a strict schedule, but by following your lead, we tend to feed you and put you down for naps on a regular basis. We nurse and bottle feed.

We do what we feel is right. We follow our instincts. We put your needs first and shower you with more love than we ever thought we could possibly pour out to you. We aren’t consistent in our methods, but we are consistent in loving you.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my reading, it is that just because people may subscribe to a certain parenting style or opinion, doesn’t make it any better or worse than my own personal choices. People may try to tell you otherwise.

Parents know their own babies the best. It’s helpful and okay to look for advice and resources, but ultimately it is up to me and your daddy to know and trust what you need. The decisions we make to care for and raise you may not be the same decisions others would make, and that’s okay. Ultimately, we are looking out for your safety, your comfort and your health. We want you to know you are loved and cared for – more than you will ever know.

With love,

Momma

 

 

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New mom nursing.

Dear baby girl,

One of my favorite times of the day is the quiet stillness of the night when I am alone with you, feeding you and putting you to sleep.

Whether it is at the end of the day or even in the wee hours of the morning, I find so much peace in the moments when you are wrapped perfectly in my arms. Even if I have a lot on my mind, or even if I am completely exhausted, I just look down at you and my heart smiles. With you I find rest and peace; the cares of the world float away for a few moments as my heart is filled with thankfulness for you.

Nursing is not something you can really prepare for when you are pregnant, and no one tells you how hard it is. It takes time, patience and the support and knowledge of others to get you through. My biggest support has been our local La Leche League group, as they have been able to answer my tough questions and provide support when I needed it.

It took a couple months to really figure things out, but I am so glad I stuck with it. Even currently, when things are difficult – whether you are teething or distracted by the world around you – I know it is just a phase and we’ll get through it. These harder times are far outweighed by the others we share, the moments when you and I are the only two people in the world.

The moments when all I hear are your soft breaths as you eat.

The moments when you reach up towards me, wanting to touch my neck and face, as though you are memorizing the details of your momma.

The moments when you pause, stop eating, slowly look up at me and smile. Though it¬†can be¬†frustrating (and painful), I can’t help but smile back at you.

The moments when your hands draw near to your face, your tiny fingers covering your eyes. I slowly study your wrist rolls, where your hand and arm meet together in a small¬†roll and don’t quite form a wrist yet. It is literally the most adorable thing ever.

The moments when you close your eyes and I study your perfect little features: your long eyelashes resting against the tops of your cheeks, your tiny nose pressed against me, your chin slowly drawing up and down.

The moments when you hum softly as you eat, making your own music.

The moments when you fall asleep in my arms, your pursed¬†lips still sucking the air after you’ve stopped¬†eating. I watch you as you fall asleep, your beautiful face completely at rest; your small frame¬†pressed against me. I could¬†watch you¬†and hold you like this forever.

There is something beautiful about these moments, and I will forever cherish them. I know that these days are numbered, and I am thankful to be able to share these moments with you.

I treasure what you and I share together and will carry these moments with me always.

With love,

Momma