5am.

It’s 5am.

We see this hour together often, and I know: it could be worse. Much worse. I whisper a quiet “thank you” to you for letting me catch up on some sleep. I think sleep might be my love language.

Finn-32You’re wide awake. I’m half-asleep. I go through the motions: I nurse you and burp you, then swaddle you back up tightly, because you are without a doubt the busiest-bodied baby with the strongest startle reflex I’ve ever seen. (God? Please bless the inventor of the swaddle, especially the Velcro ones. Amen.)

You stop squirming for a second and lay completely still. With my lamp glowing in the dark, I see you look right at me. We lock eyes, and in that instant, my mechanical mommy autopilot is switched off and I’m human again. I smile silently at you, because I can’t not, and you grin back. Baby gums, dimples, squinty eyes and all.

My eyes are still tired, but now they’re alive. Bright.

I dogear that moment purposefully.

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Finn’s Nursery

Despite the fact that Finn has yet to sleep a single wink in his nursery, it’s one of my favorite spaces in our entire house.

When we found out we were having a boy, it didn’t take long for me to start daydreaming about decorating a boy’s nursery. Since Aven’s room is so girly and whimsical (post coming soon), I was looking forward to going in a totally different direction.

Brandon and I knew we wanted a feature wall where the crib was, so that was our starting point. And then after seeing this amazing nursery on Pinterest, we decided on a rustic woodsy theme, using mostly neutral colors. (I purposely steered clear from elements that make the room look too baby-ish so we can keep most of it for a big boy room later on down the road.)

I am SO happy with how it turned out! And props to my husband for building that awesome wall.

*All sources listed at the bottom. Some links are affiliate links. 

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t h r e e

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Aven turned three years old just ten days before we welcomed her brother. I no longer do update or milestone posts, but I want to always remember the little things about her at each age. So here is my random, stream-of-consciousness, Things I Love About Aven Harper, Age Three, along with some of my favorite photos from the last few months.

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My sweet Aven,

You are three! “Fwee”, as you would say. We registered you for three-year-old preschool recently, and ohh myyy. I’ve had to keep my emotions in check over that one. (It’s only 9 hours a week, I keep telling myself. And it doesn’t even start till the fall, so I have time to prepare myself.)

I know you’re going to love it.

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Finn Jameson: a birth story

By the time my due date was in sight, I was ready. So. Very. Ready.

Maybe it was being pregnant with a boy this time, or maybe it was because this was pregnancy number two for me, but growing a baby was not as easy this time around. Borderline polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid) that made me look and feel so much bigger so much faster, a breech baby, ridiculous swelling, Rhogam shots, two rounds of antibiotics….certainly nothing major, but still, it made my first pregnancy look like a walk in a really lovely park.

IMG_0862_edAt my 39 week appointment, my doctor joked with me about the massive amount of amniotic fluid I was still carrying around, and said she hoped it would break in Walmart. (Good thing I can totally appreciate a warped sense of humor like that). I told her that would be impossible considering I don’t shop at Walmart because my mental health cannot handle it. But Target? Highly likely. And actually a scenario I welcomed because COME ON OUT BABY BOY. I was really, really ready.

I left that appointment believing he would be coming – on his own – any day now.

But unlike me, he was in no hurry. My babies must love life in the womb, because my due date of February 14 came and went uneventfully, just as it had with my daughter three years ago. And since she had weighed over 9 lbs at 9 days late, we decided to go ahead and induce me on the 16th.

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He’s here!

Three weeks ago, I officially became a mom to two. 

(I am working on writing his full birth story now, but I wanted to go ahead and share a couple of things, because there’s really no telling how long it will take me to process and write his story. 🙂 We’ve had a bit of a rough start since his birth, with some significant weight loss and a really pitiful diaper rash for him, as well as a bout of mastitis for me. My hands have been (gladly) preoccupied with his sweet little body or snuggling his big sister most of the time, so writing only happens in short bursts at very random times.) 

 

The very quick, very short overview of his arrival is this:

My kiddos really love life in the womb and require medical eviction to bring them earthside. Knowing how big my daughter was at birth, we set an induction for two days after my due date. It was a long labor, but shorter than my first, and at 10:39pm on 2/16/17, our son was born.

He weighed 8 lbs, 7 oz. and was 21 inches long. 

He looked exactly like his sister. 

I fell in love immediately. We all did. 

We didn’t name him until he was about a day and a half old:

Finn Jameson

And he’s 100% perfect. ❤

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Dear Finn,
May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay
Forever young
May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the light surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
And may you stay
Forever young
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
And may you stay
Forever young.* 
I love you. 
Love, Mom
*lyrics from Forever Young, Bob Dylan. 

the year of surrender

I don’t always create resolutions or “find my word” when the new year comes around. Some years I’ll feel drawn toward a specific theme or prayer but it’s not something I’m particularly diligent about. Especially this year — in the midst of baby prep and my toddler’s third birthday happening right around my due date — I’ve got a lot on my mind and lists of to do’s written e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e., so the new year came and went without much of a signal on my radar.

The funny thing is, I didn’t set out to find my theme for the year, but I’m pretty certain it found me.

When I think back, it actually began pursuing me at the last bit of 2016. I’m currently expecting baby #2 and things are altogether different this go-around. Nothing major, so please don’t hear me complaining, just different.

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From the beginning of my pregnancy, I kept feeling like the Lord was asking me to surrender myself to this pregnancy. Now, let’s be real a second and acknowledge that surrender is an inherent part of pregnancy – we give over our actual bodies for nearly a year’s time, so there’s that. But this calling was deeper; more toward a yielding in my spirit rather than just my physical body.

 

So, surrender.

 

Even from the start, this pregnancy has been much more draining and taxing on me than my first ever was – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.

 

At 35 weeks along, my doctor began my check-up with me laying flat on my back and her hands pressing into my belly feeling for my little boy’s position. She thought out loud, “where is his head??” as she searched and pressed.  I had been taking some peeks of him at work (I’m a sonographer), so I knew he had been breech for at least the past few weeks.

I hadn’t been concerned about it. Like, at all.
Until that moment.

Having a breech baby wasn’t something I had ever considered or expected, and I had no idea how much it affected, from a medical standpoint. My doctor briefly discussed some options if he stayed in that position, and none of them sounded especially appealing to me. A couple of them even scared me, if I’m being honest.

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With this news, I began to pray that he would turn, along with some of our friends and family. A coworker even said a prayer with me right in the middle of the hospital cafe one day. I also went to see a chiropractor who specializes in Webster’s technique – a way to open up the mom’s pelvis hopefully enough for the baby to switch positions.

After all of that, I knew I needed to accept the fact that if this baby stayed breech, there was a reason for it. A plan. A purpose. And I would just have to get over my personal preferences and fears.

 

Again, surrender.

 

I would like to tell you that I had complete trust and zero anxiety about the outcome from that point forward. But that would be a total lie.

As my next OB appointment crept closer, I started to notice my stress level rising. Questions swirled in my head, fear of the unknown settled in my heart, and lots of opinions began flying my way. I was feeling for his head all throughout the day, and I had been researching natural ways to help the baby turn. Did you know there are entire websites devoted to “flipping techniques”? It was all becoming too much.

I reminded myself that I had a healthy baby inside of me – something so many long for – and however he needed to be brought earthside would be just fine.

My prayer changed from please, Lord, let this baby turn, to me asking Him for a surrendered spirit again.

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When I signed in at the doctor’s office for my 36 week check-up, I was still convinced he was breech (although I purposely hadn’t felt of him to confirm that), and I was becoming resolved to the fact that he would likely stay that way. 

I came prepared with a list of questions for my OB regarding external cephalic versions, c-sections, risks and statistics – except these questions weren’t coming from a place of fear so much as they were to help me mentally prepare. I was ready to start firing them off when my doctor basically told me to hold my horses and let her check his position first. 

Oh, right. That is actually a brilliant idea.

I laid back on the table and she began to feel around my belly. First up high, she said slowly, “I think that’s a butt…..,” and then feeling down lower in my pelvis, “….and pretty sure that’s a head.” My mouth dropped open.

What? Had he really turned?

I was positive he was still breech. So sure.

But no, an ultrasound confirmed that I was so wrong, and I’ve probably never been happier to be wrong.

I did a happy dance with my doctor, tucked away my list of questions I’d prepared, and as I stepped onto that creaky old elevator down to the parking lot, I felt lighter. I just kept thanking the Lord for this sweet change, this sweet unexpected answer to prayer.

My Father didn’t have to do that. But he did. (And let me just say, even if he hadn’t, he would still be good and faithful.)

Of course, this doesn’t guarantee anything. This baby could shock us all by turning back around, or my labor could still end in a c-section due to a variety of reasons. But we have a shot at a natural delivery, and that was my hope all along.

So, surrender. Here we are again, old friend.

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I think it’s important that you know this surrender I’m talking about wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t quick or painless, and it wasn’t seamless. Much like motherhood, I do not have this completely figured out. (Um, not even close.) It’s a process. Even as I write this, I’m 38 weeks pregnant and I’m having to surrender my ideal timeline, because quite honestly, I want this baby out. Like, yesterday. I’m slowly and hesitantly handing over my questions, worries, anxiety, and stress to the Lord – one piece at a time. And many times, out of fear or habit or who knows what else, I still find myself reaching back for a piece I had already given over. (Feeling very grateful for a patient Father). The decision to surrender is just the first step in a long walk of following through and letting go. And then letting go again. And again. 

I’ve seen such clear evidence that the Lord is using this to draw me in closer to Him, however small it might actually be in the grand scheme of things. Because, no doubt, there are much bigger things happening in other people’s worlds than upside-down babies or pregnancy timelines. But I’m appreciative that the Lord is faithful to use what’s relevant to us – right now – to bring us close, test us, and teach us.

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Maybe your “right now” is something completely different. Maybe it seems too big and scary or too small and insignificant to submit to Him. But I promise, He can use it. And you know what?  You can surrender scared. In fact, that’s kind of the point. It gives our trust room to grow and mature. 

Our family pastor at church often says it like this in prayer, “Lord, we agree with you for the plans you have.” And I think that’s really what it comes down to: acknowledging that His plans are greater and that we want to be part of the story, not in opposition to it.

So, my answer is yes, Lord. I agree with you for the plans you have  – for me, this baby, and our story. 

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Tell me: what are you being called to surrender to right now? Or what is your word/theme for 2017?

 

 

ready.

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This space has been so elusive for me over the past year. I’ve wanted to write. I’ve thought about writing. I’ve actually started drafts upon drafts that now sit half-finished, never published. 

I think it all began in the spring of last year when I was plagued with constant fatigue and some other strange symptoms that I just couldn’t shake. Turns out, it was most likely Lyme disease (all clear now, thankfully), but even after feeling “better,” my creative motivation was zapped.

A few months later, I found myself in that notoriously challenging first trimester getting my tail kicked with nausea and fatigue…and just generally feeling less than stellar. 

Now I’m prepping for the fast-approaching arrival of baby number two, and the inescapable instinct to have everything in order tends to outweigh the time it takes me to complete a post. 

Add to those my inclination toward procrastination and perfectionism (which ironically go hand-in-hand if you’ve never noticed before), and I was basically paralyzed. I told myself I was just taking a breather, but that wasn’t entirely true.

In reality, this “break” has been breaking me.

The enemy used this time to start telling me some pretty awful lies: I have nothing to say. No one will read it, anyway. Who do I think I am, trying to help and encourage those around me when I feel so lacking right now? Don’t worry about finishing that draft – it’s no good anyway. Someone else has already said it, and better. Don’t kid yourself- it’s not like you’re a real writer. No one even notices how quiet you’ve been. ON AND ON AND ON. Seriously, I could keep going, but I won’t.

The thing is, whenever I  choose to listen to that contriving little voice (and accept it as truth), I effectively hand over my power and my gift that God has bestowed on me for His glory. In my silence, I let Satan have what is rightfully the Lord’s. (Yuck. So hard to admit.) Have you ever found yourself in that position? Giving up on what God has so clearly spoken into your life? When I see it from that perspective, I know I can’t keep quiet. He has let me know it’s time to reclaim this calling, this space, this writing life. I want to write with honesty, from the hard places, even when it’s easier to just keep quiet. Especially when it’s easier to keep quiet. I want to see the Lord use these pages to speak through me (and to me, amen.)

I am on the cusp of some major life changes happening, and I want (need?) to be able to come here and get grounded again. Tapping across the keyboard and filling up the page feels a little bit like home to me.

For my Christmas present (and birthday, and new baby – ha), my husband bought me a year’s access to an online writing “workshop” through Coffee + Crumbs (one of my very favorite spaces online, full of beautifully honest articles on motherhood), and it has already begun to re-spark my enthusiasm. Also, it doesn’t hurt when your friend gifts you some pretty new notebooks for Christmas…. 🙂 (Sometimes it takes other people to help you find your footing again).

So, here’s to a fresh new year of beginnings. Here’s to sweeping the cobwebs and opening the blinds, even if I’m doing so with squinted and tired eyes. I finally feel ready.

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{ What are you giving back to God in this new year? You may not want to share, and that’s okay, but if so, leave a comment below and I’ll add you to my prayer journal. 

He can make us brave. }