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. 

favorite baby prep ideas

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Whether you are pregnant or growing your family through adoption, expecting a child definitely takes it’s toll – I realize you are already drained. And I hate to be the one to tell you this, but this is nothing compared to the exhaustion that’s on it’s way. With two of my best friends joining me in this new life of motherhood, (one welcomed a baby boy in November, and the other is expecting her baby girl in June), I’ve been thinking back on what I would do in advance to prepare for a baby if I were a first time mom again. So here’s my list of suggestions that will ultimately make the newborn twilight zone a tiny bit more sane and manageable, which in turn allows you to enjoy that short phase more. Only take on the ones that speak to you and forget the rest. Well, actually, I lied. There is one must-do that I included for everyone…it’s super important so don’t skip it.

The purpose here is to simplify and prep now so your life is easier later. I promise you’ll thank me.

one.

Decide now which mom friend you’re gonna call or text when (not if) you have a strange mommy or baby question, need a good cry, or just a pep talk. Let them know they’re your “person” – maybe with a coffee and donut in hand as a bribe? – and make sure they’ll be pleasant when (again, not if) a need arises at 3 am. 


two.
Download a baby care app on your phone. It’s convenient for tracking diapers (wet vs. dirty), frequency of feedings, which side you nursed on, baths, naps, etc. since your brain will be on hiatus especially the first few weeks. This is also helpful for pediatrician visits. Instead of a blank stare when they ask “how many times a day is she pooping?” you can just refer to your app. I used the Total Baby app. 

Also – we STILL use a great lullaby and noise app called Sleepy Sounds. It’s nice to have it with me whenever I might need it – in the car, at a hotel, etc. 

three.
Do something to pamper yourself. Mani/pedi, hair trim/color, massage, facial, shopping in Target alone (this would be my pick!) – or all of the above! 🙂  Because lets face it – becoming a mom means you will often be putting yourself at the bottom of the list.



four.

Read a non-baby book. Or at the very least read a book about what to do after the baby gets here. There’s so much focus on the baby’s actual arrival, which is obviously important, but that’s just the beginning! Because then you have a kid to raise, ya know? I would also suggest downloading the She Reads Truth app on your phone or ipad for daily bible devotionals. They are written by women for women. Super convenient during a marathon rocking-your-baby session or while breastfeeding.

five.
Brunch/coffee/dinner/Target shopping trip with girlfriends….just something. Whatever you can make happen – make it happen. This one is for sanity purposes only -you can talk to them about all your crazy thoughts and irrational fears, and they’ll listen without judgement. After the baby comes these outings will be a bit more tricky to plan, but girl time is crucial for mommies and mommies to be. 

six.
While you’re at it…..plan a last supper with your man. Sure, it’s to enjoy one last date with no time constraints, but the real purpose is of the date is to go ahead and put another outing on the calendar 3-4 weeks out from the baby’s expected arrival and set up a babysitter. I’m not kidding – bring your calendars to dinner with you! If you don’t make it a priority starting now, you will honestly be surprised at how quickly 6 months can pass with no date night.


seven.
Get bills and other paperwork up to date and organized. Set up automatic online bill pay if possible. This is just one of those things that you could easily get behind on, because snuggling your baby will win out over nearly all tedious tasks.

eight.
Pick out a birth announcement (or at least a couple favorites) and have a photographer on deck for newborn photos. While you’re choosing the announcement, go ahead and type the name(s) you’ve chosen into the template as one last check to make sure you really love it!


nine. 
Grow an extra arm. I know I needed still need one. Kidding.

ten.

Clear out the storage on your phone. I’m not kidding on this one. My phone consistently tells me “Cannot take photo. Not enough storage” which is beyond frustrating when I’m trying to capture something in the moment. On this same note, go ahead and have your “real camera” battery charged for baby’s arrival. Take a million and one photos, and also video some of those newborn moments. You will be so happy you did.


eleven.
If you’re planning to even TRY breastfeeding, take the time to educate yourself. There is so much more to it than you would imagine. You can take a class at a local hospital (they will discuss the basics and show some videos), skim through The Nursing Mother’s Companion book, or watch some of Dr. Jack Newman’s informational videos.

twelve.
Make one or two baby essentials baskets for around the house. Pack some diapers, wipes, large burp cloths, diaper cream, and hand sanitizer into a basket so everything you need is easy to reach quickly and portable. I also had a couple of roll up changing mats so I didn’t have to take her to the nursery for every diaper change. Kindly ask guests to use the hand sanitizer before snuggling your baby.


thirteen.

Purchase some Shout Color Catcher sheets for the laundry. This allows you to chunk all your laundry in the same load together without risking running colors. That = less loads, which = less work! I love these things. You may also want to consider signing up for Amazon Mom Prime membership; you can read about it here.


fourteen.
Ask a girlfriend to set up a Meal Train for you right after the baby’s arrival. This is truly the most genius idea ever. Family and friends can sign up to bring you meals and easily view which dates are available. You can warn them of any food allergies or aversions, and select the best time for drop off. See? Genius.

fifteen.
Here it is, the must-do for everyone. 
Looowwweerr your expectations on back down to reality. For your baby, your spouse, YOURSELF. Despite how excited you are now, there WILL come a moment when you think what have we done?! It’s normal. There is a giant learning curve to parenting that never ends. Give yourself some grace. Please don’t expect your baby to be superbaby – they will cry inconsolably at times. Your husband will not always be superdad – he’s tired too. And no one expects you to be supermom. You’ll feel inadequate and have way more questions than answers, but you CAN do this. Perfection is not a pre-requisite for becoming a parent. (Praise Jesus!)


Tackle some of these now so you can have less to worry about later!

Also, I’d love to hear other helpful suggestions from any moms who have ideas to share.



being a new mom {& what I didn’t see coming}

There is a vast difference between preparing for childbirth and preparing for a child. So much focus is placed on the pregnancy and how your baby will arrive, but we can’t just brace ourselves for labor when there’s a whole new life as a mother waiting at the end of the delivery. Moms-to-be, you deserve to have realistic expectations so you aren’t completely overwhelmed on Day One of Motherhood.


In a nutshell, it’s one-hundred times harder than you ever imagined it would be. It’s also one-hundred times more spectacular than ever imagined it would be. Here’s my take on it. 


{P.S., I have updated portions of this post with my thoughts on things one year after originally writing this!}




Overall, I enjoyed being pregnant. Sure, the heartburn was horrendous and towards the end I was just super uncomfortable. But there was something so special about it. I regularly had complete strangers congratulate me, make gender guesses, speak a blessing over me and my baby, and even physically lend a hand. And yes, there were a few awkward belly rubs here and there, but even those didn’t bother me as much as I anticipated.

 I actually thought I was going to miss being pregnant. That is until my kid decided to stay put nine days past her due date and come out weighing almost as much as a bag of potatoes. Anyway, I’m not bitter.

Aven was born on February 6, 2014 and I can honestly say I’ve never felt more elation than that first moment she was placed on my chest. It was the hardest and most beautiful day of my life.




It didn’t take me long (read: one day) to realize being a mom is definitely the toughest job in existence. It never ends. It doesn’t just start at 6 or 7 am when I get up, because I’m responsible for her all night as well. It’s all consuming

There isn’t someone else to hand her off to when she’s being fussy – I’m the mom. 
There isn’t someone else to wake up at 12, 3, and 5 to nurse her  – I’m the mom. 
There isn’t anyone who can sit in the car with her while I run in the store for just one thing – I’m the mom. But at the same time, being the mom is what makes it so worth it.


Because there will come a time when no one else will do, but me. Her mama.




Here are some things I didn’t see coming for anyone about to venture into this crazy thing called motherhood. Consider this your head’s up.

1. You will cry. A lot. 
Hormonally, (if that’s not a word I just made it one), you are all over the place after having a baby. You are spent in every way imaginable. Add in the severe lack of sleep and it won’t take much to send you over the edge into the ugly cry. When you need a moment, take it. Hand over the fussy baby and take a hot shower or a walk. I promise, you’ll feel like a whole new woman.

A few days after coming home from the hospital, Aven was crying non-stop and I couldn’t figure out why so I just started sobbing too. In that same moment, my husband walked in to find both of his girls a complete wreck. He scooped her up and took over so I could have a very necessary break. I really struggled with thinking that I should always be able to console my child, when the truth is NO mother can comfort her baby 100% of the time. Realizing this freed me up from feeling so defeated during her difficult times.


That brings me to my next point.

2. Your baby will cry. A lot. 
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I kind of thought that as long as your baby was not hungry, needing a diaper change, sleepy, or gassy, he/she wouldn’t cry. Ha! Not true. Sometimes they just cry. It’s part of being a baby, apparently. I actually read that newborns need to cry for at least 15 minutes a day for no reason other than to expend some energy. 

Babies cry. Don’t blame yourself.

{Update: I noticed a huge change in my baby after about 6-8 weeks, not just in this area, but her entire demeanor. Maybe part of it is that I learned how to read her cues sooner and the fact that she was on a much more solid schedule by then, but whatever the reason all I have to say is thank you Jesus.}

3. You will think your body will never feel normal again after all it’s been through. 
Take this one from me. I’m a small framed girl and I gave birth to a 9+ pound baby. I couldn’t sit without wincing for a couple of weeks. Not to mention how many drastic changes your body has gone through to house your little babe for 10 months. But like the last point, it WILL get better. Remind yourself that your body just facilitated another person coming into the world, for crying out loud, and if you’re nursing you also happen to be sustaining a human life. So there’s that. Remind yourself that pregnancy and nursing is a sacred privilege; don’t betray your body by feeling ashamed of everything that comes with that.

{Update: For me, I started feeling and looking much more like my “old self” between 9-12 months postpartum. It takes time. Try to be patient and nice to yourself while your body transitions. HAVING A BABY IS A BIG DEAL.}

4. It ain’t about you anymore.  
This seems obvious I know, but I’m not exaggerating when I say your life literally revolves around your new baby. Meeting a newborn’s needs is pretty consuming. Don’t be surprised if some days 4pm rolls around and it dawns on you that you have yet to shower. When you’re sick, you still have a baby to take care of (this happened to me when Aven was only 10 days old). When you want to run to the mall for something, it’s gonna require a little more planning than you’re used to. And all kinds of things piled into a diaper bag. 

I used to wonder what people meant when they said every decision they made was impacted by their child. Well, now I get it. I totally get it.

5. This is a whole new level of tired. 
When I think back on how I used to complain about being tired before having a baby, one thing happens: I laugh. At myself. Because this post-baby tired is just so constant. Waking up even once a night may not sound terrible (and it’s actually a milestone parents look forward to!), but when that’s every night? It becomes more and more difficult to feel fully rested. 

But also – hear this: even if you’re so tired you can barely lift an eyelid, when that baby needs you, you will find enough reserve to rise to the occasion. I promise. Also: caffeine, obviously. 

{Update: I will admit to you that even now with my daughter sleeping consistently through the night, I still feel tired in the mornings. I have resolved myself to the fact that I will rest when my babies are grown! And I rely heavily on McDonald’s sweet tea.}

6. Getting on a schedule is imperative for your sanity. 
For your own mental health, just trust me on this one and start getting in a routine as much as possible, as soon as possible. The first couple of weeks will probably be a complete crapshoot, but after that, begin some semblance of a schedule with your baby. It doesn’t have to be strict…the purpose is to just provide some structure and will actually help you anticipate your baby’s needs throughout the day. I used the Eat, Awake, Sleep routine which was a game-changer for us. (Reading Moms on Call is a good place to start.)

{Update: we are still very routine-oriented when it comes to eating times, naptimes, and bedtime. I do try to be flexible on a regular basis though, because I don’t want things to become so cemented that the routine rules our lives. But for the most part I find it so helpful. And Aven is much more well-behaved when we keep a schedule.}

7. Expectations about your baby can cause disappointment and unneeded stress.

Every baby is different and has his/her own unique personality. Just because your friend’s baby breastfed like a champ doesn’t mean yours will. Even if it’s unintentional, we all make assumptions about our baby, and even how we will be as moms. 

Breastfeeding wasn’t an issue for us…but bottle feeding was. It never occurred to me that my baby might not take a bottle. It took two months of working at it every day, and lots of trial and error, for her to take a bottle consistently. Needless to say, this made going back to work very stressful for me. It’s not a given that your baby will sleep through the night, like riding in the car seat, or take a pacifier. Be prepared for things to not go as planned. 

8.  Prayer and community will help you get through.
Becoming a mom has brought me closer to God than I ever imagined it would. I’m grateful for the way he crafted my motherhood to reflect his Fatherhood and extravagant Father-love for me. I didn’t have a close-knit community of moms to rely on in my early motherhood journey, which is also a big reason why I started this blog. I relied on prayer to get me through my hard days and nights, and God was the one who heard my delight over my daughter. But the Lord also wants you to find community; it’s one of the ways He shows up in our daily lives. It is worth it to seek out those relationships, I promise.

Other things that help on the hard days: laughter and chocolate. Amen and Amen.


9. How fast and how far you’ll fall for this tiny human that has taken over your life. 
I knew I would love her. But I didn’t know I would love her. Sometimes I feel like the word “obsessed” is more of an accurate depiction of what’s going on here. But whatever.

It may not happen right away. But you will….you’ll marvel at her every move. Be in awe of each and every milestone. Keep track of mundane things like poop frequency and ounces gained. (For real though.) You’ll document every single face he makes with countless pictures until your phone runs out of storage. And you’ll find yourself just so grateful that this is your new normal.


And finally.

If you’re a mother or not, encourage a new mom today. I guarantee you she needs to hear it. She needs to hear that she’s doing a good job.
And if you are a new mom, begin each day with a fresh start and let go of yesterday’s struggles. Remember, “the days are long but the years are short.” 


 It’s the hardest, best, most beautiful, and insane thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. 

Life is just better with her in it.