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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. 🙂 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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My gift.

Dear baby girl,

One year ago today, my life changed forever. I’ll never forget that Saturday morning, sun streaming through the windows on an early spring morning. I lay in bed anxiously waiting, debating whether to find out the truth. Could I handle it if it wasn’t what I wanted? Could I go through another round of hopefulness to only be crushed yet again? I was hopeful that I would receive the only birthday gift I truly wanted and prayed for.

I waited for what seemed like hours until I finally decided to get up. It was time to try again. I went through the motions that had become all too familiar the past several months. This time, I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. There was a part of me that knew the truth, that was hopeful in the answer, but I didn’t want to believe it to be real only to be disappointed again.

The minute went by, and I peered over the counter. There it was, faint but clear. I never knew I could be so excited to see a blue line. I blinked, squinted and stared in disbelief. It was still there. I held the truth in my hand.

I was pregnant!

I screamed with joy and your daddy and I just hugged, laughed and held each other for several moments in shock and awe. We couldn’t believe it. Our hearts were so full at the thought of you, and we knew our lives were about to forever change.

You were the gift that I had hoped and waited for, and this year I got to celebrate my birthday with you. We waited until the weekend to celebrate, and yesterday I enjoyed brunch and shopping with you and Daddy and a relaxing day together. It was perfect.

4 months old this week!

4 months old this week!

This journey of becoming and being a parent has been more challenging than I imagined, but it also has been more rewarding than I ever dreamed possible. I am so incredibly thankful for you, my gift, my precious daughter.

With love,

Momma

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Happy Due Date Day!

Dear baby girl,

You’re finally here!

As we celebrate your due date today, it’s hard to believe it’s been 11 days since you entered this world. We were so surprised and overjoyed when you decided to arrive early. Our perfect little girl, Hannah Katherine, is here!

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Our Hannah Katherine

Your daddy says the look on my face was priceless when my water broke at the doctor’s office last Monday. I couldn’t believe it; although we had a feeling you might be joining us early. At my 36 week appointment my doctor said you were measuring on the small side, and if you were still tiny at 38 weeks, there was a good chance I would be induced. When we found out that you were still measuring small, we headed to the doctor’s office to find out what was next. Turns out, my doctor would have induced me the next day – but you came on your own time instead!

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Me holding you for the first time

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Daddy holding you for the first time

The past 11 days have been a whirlwind as I adjust to life as your momma. We’ve had lots of help and visitors along the way. Your Gammie (my mom) visited for the first week, taking care of you, me and your daddy, helping us adjust to life at home. You also met your daddy’s family – your Grandma, Uncle Brian, Auntie Laura and Cousin Sophia. Sophia was so excited to meet you! She was thrilled to read your first book to you.

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Auntie Laura and Cousin Sophia reading to you

Your Auntie Katie (my sister) came to visit for a few days and just left today. I called her the baby whisperer because you were so calm and peaceful whenever she held and took care of you. We miss her already!

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Momma and Auntie Katie holding you

When you get older, you will hear lots of stories about your Grandpa (my dad) and Pap Pap (Daddy’s dad), who are now in heaven. Two days ago was four years since your Grandpa passed away, and now that you’re here this picture of me and him has so much more meaning. The way he looks at me is the same way your daddy and I look at you, our hearts filled with love.

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Your Grandpa reading to me

We’ve also had a few friends visit at the hospital and at home, bringing treats and gifts for you. We have ventured out to the doctor’s office and even made it to Target and Old Navy yesterday. You did a great job for your first of many shopping trips. 🙂

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Our first shopping trip!

As the cloudy, sleepless haze of the first few days begins to lift and I become accustomed to a new normal, each day feels more joy-filled than the last. Your daddy and I can’t get enough time snuggling with you.

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My perfect little angel.

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Daddy snuggles.

I could say so much more, as my heart is full with love and thoughts I could pour out to you. We are so in love with you, our precious little angel. Welcome to the world, Hannah Katherine.

With love,

Momma

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37 weeks: The Final Countdown

Dear baby,

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind as Daddy and I prepare for your arrival. I can’t believe your due date is just three weeks away!

This month has been full with football, family and fun. Your Uncle Brian is a kicker for the football team at Simpson College, and he and the team are having a great year. (It makes up for the fact that the Steelers are not.) Just so you know, baby, you are being born into a family that has some pretty serious Pittsburgh Steelers fans. You may have some Steelers onesies already. Your Grandma and Pap Pap Schaaf grew up in Pittsburgh, and most of your daddy’s extended family still lives in the area.

When I haven’t been tailgating and watching football, I have been celebrating your arrival with family and friends at two baby showers. You wouldn’t believe how much people love you already! Your nursery is now full of clothes, books and toys, and we’re fully stocked on onesies, blankets and bath time items.

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Family decorated homemade onesies just for you!

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Gammie, me and your Aunt Katie. And you hiding in that bump!

Speaking of your nursery, your daddy spent some time putting the furniture together and getting it set up. I am so happy with how everything came together.

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The before picture of the nursery…

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After – the nursery furniture set up.

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After – your crib looks just as I imagined!

We’re waiting to put some finishing touches in your nursery after you’re born, including your name on the wall. Believe it or not, your daddy and I have names picked out for you! Just a couple hours ago we picked our top two boy and girl names. It was a long process with a lot more disagreeing than I expected, but Daddy and I are both happy with our final choices. We are not sharing these names with anyone, and we have decided to wait until we meet you to decide which name suits you best.

At 37 weeks, it’s crazy to think that you could be born at any time now, and I will be a mom in just a few short weeks. I’m showing signs that you’re getting ready and am starting to feel a lot more pregnant. I think about you all the time and hope and pray you’re doing well in there. I know it’s up to you whenever you are ready, and I just need to patiently wait for you to get here. Just make sure to make your arrival easy on Momma, okay? 🙂 I know the wait and the labor will all be worth it.

I can’t wait to see you soon!

With love,
Momma

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Families are like quilts.

Dear baby,

Your great-great aunt Evelyn wrote a note with your baby shower gift that has stuck with me:

“Families are like quilts: lives pieced together and bound by love.”

Right now, our lives literally are pieced together. It is the most amazing, indescribable feeling to carry and nourish you as your life forms inside of me. Feeling your little jabs, tiny hiccups and your body stretch in my growing belly are forever changing my perspective on my body. It is no longer just my body that I fuel and care for. I am now a vehicle that builds and sustains life – your life. You are a treasure that I must protect.

In about five weeks, give or take a few days, we will no longer be bound physically, but my heart to nourish, care for and protect you will grow even more as your momma. I can only fathom just how much this will continue to develop and change over the years as I watch you grow and become your own person.

For the first several years of your life, you will be dependent upon me for your survival. It is in these years that I will cherish the closeness that we share, with your snuggles and kisses you will need from momma. Then you will start to explore the world, realizing the freedom you have. These years I will want to protect you from getting hurt, but I will also want you to learn, discover yourself and become a strong person.

Before I know it, this freedom will lead you on your own adventures, and you will be writing your own story. You will no longer be dependent on me, but because our lives are pieced and bound together, you will still return to me. These years will likely break my heart because my baby no longer needs me, but they will also enrich my heart because I will be proud of the person you have become. As the years go by, we will forever be bound together by our love, no matter the changes or distance.

I know I am getting way ahead of myself here. I say all this not to fast forward through time or wish I could stop it forever; I write this to you because I need to. With every moment of being your momma, my heart will hold on to knowing that we will forever be bound by our love. No matter the circumstance, our bond cannot be broken.

Because families are like quilts: lives pieced together and bound by love.

With love,
Momma

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My promise.

Dear baby,

I can’t believe how close we’re getting to the end of this pregnancy journey. Time has flown, and this weekend marks six weeks until your due date. I can hardly believe that in just a couple months I will be your momma. Your little jabs, kicks and hiccups I will no longer feel in me, but I will finally get to see you. I will get to meet the precious gift that I have been waiting for.

I remember when I was little, the biggest anticipation was built up for Christmas each year. It wasn’t even just about the presents (although I’m not going to lie, I was pretty giddy about what my parents and Santa would bring me). It was also about the excitement of getting to see my extended family and spend time with my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. I would even anticipate the goodies – the pie, the cookies, the mashed potatoes. I eagerly awaited it all. And when the time came, I always had a blast, but the time always went by way too quickly.

As I near the end of pregnancy and the anticipation of your arrival builds, I know that a new journey is just beginning. Parenthood is going to be the most exciting, challenging, demanding and rewarding job of my life. I have eagerly awaited this for so long, and I plan to savor every moment and milestone – because I know time will pass way too quickly.

I also want to make a promise to you tonight, baby. I see and hear too many parents publicly complain about the woes and struggles of being a parent and the things their children do. I know sometimes you need to vent, but there is a time and place for that. It is the continual public rants and complaints that just hurt my heart. I know they love their children, but there is no need to shame them. As a parent, you make that choice and you make sacrifices.

Which is why I promise that even when I am frustrated, when you cause so much trouble or do some incredibly gross bodily function and leave it all over the floor, I will never publicly complain about being your momma. I know it’s going to be hard. I know there will be days when I may question myself. But I know what I am signing up for. I would sacrifice anything for you. At the end of the day, you are my precious gift, my love, my baby. Nothing you do will ever change that.

Parenthood is going to be a roller coaster. Our journey is going to be one crazy and amazing adventure. And through it all I will always love you.

With love,
Momma

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Pregnancy journey.

Dear baby,

Cooler weather finally crept into Des Moines this weekend, bringing hints of fall just around the corner. As I look forward to all things fall – pumpkin, soups, jeans and sweaters and so much more – it just brings that much more anticipation knowing your arrival is near.

Your nursery furniture has arrived (!) and your daddy has already put the glider together for me. We both have tested it and approve. It is currently sitting in the living room since we have to clear out the furniture and random items in the room that is soon to be your nursery. Your daddy made good progress on that this weekend. I made good progress on cleaning, baking and picking out my favorite baby names. I told Daddy I came up with a list, and he finally said we should probably figure this out. 🙂

As the weeks go by and my belly slowly gets bigger, the more I enjoy this whole process. I never thought I would say that I love being pregnant, but I really do. It is also hard for me to say out loud, as I know many people who have had a difficult journey – whether during their pregnancy, trying to conceive or even with complications after birth.

Your daddy and I were those people who had to wait for our journey to begin, and we are so thankful for the little blessing that you are. We continue to pray for you to be protected, safe and healthy. Feeling you move in me is the biggest reassurance, the best feeling, even if it does make me a little uncomfortable.

I am thankful for every part of this adventure, as I know it is a part of our story, our journey as parents. God is preparing us for your arrival just as he is preparing you for your entrance into this world. Our journey is just beginning, and we cannot wait to share the adventures with you.

With love,
Momma