Grace, One Month

IMG_1312This past month, this first month of Grace’s life, I have continually thought about the fact that our savior came into the world as a baby. Not just in the fact that newborns are so completely and utterly helpless, but in that he subjected himself to new parents, and not just any new parents but very young teenage parents. Then there is the other side of things-God as father. Now that I am a parent I am not sure how God was able to send his son into this world that way. How great must his love be for us that he would send his son in such a way! I am truly overwhelmed this Advent season as I think about the depths that God went to become Immanuel-God WITH us.

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This past month has been the hardest of my life. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually. Mentally. Last week I went to a Christmas party at work (my first time out with Grace all. by. myself.) and was asked in reference to being home with a newborn, “Isn’t it just wonderful?” To which I responded, “No. Not really.” I think that part of the reason postpartum depression is so prevalent is because new moms are not honest with others about the reality of having a newborn. I have been blessed to have friends that have been real and have shown me how much of a struggle it is to be a new mom. So, I will choose to be honest and say that it is not wonderful and it is in fact really hard. That doesn’t mean that I love my little Gracie any less or that I don’t think she is wonderful, because I don’t and she is.

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At Grace’s 2 day appointment (which was actually when she was a week old) she weighed 7 lbs 14.5 oz–within a half ounce of her birth weight! At her actual 2 day weight check on Black Friday she weighed 7 lbs 8 oz. I have noticed that her face is really filling out and she has quite the chubby cheeks. Her legs are also filling out and are not so thin as they were.

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From pretty early on Grace has been giving us four hour stretches at night. She would probably go longer, but we wake her. Once she is 5 weeks old we will go ahead and let her stretch out to 5 hours and see how she does. For the first couple weeks I was pretty terrible at noticing her sleep cues and as a result she would get overtired and not go to sleep. She generally wasn’t fussy, but she wasn’t sleeping either. At 2 weeks old I started wising up and picked up other subtle sleep cues–the main one for me was the wrinkling of the forehead. Since then she has been napping very well during the day and for the most part has continued doing well at night. Since 2 weeks we have put her down to sleep while she is drowsy and let her fall asleep the rest of the way on her own. Sometimes this works really well and sometimes it takes awhile. She has been sleeping in the pack n play on our bedroom since day one save a night or two that she has spent in the swing. The pack and play has an attachment that is perfectly sized for her and cradles her. I can’t imagine laying her in the giant crib to sleep since she is so cozy in her “bassinet.”

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The only time that Grace struggles with sleeping eel is when she is gassy. Unfortunately for Seth and I this usually happens at night. So far I think the things that upset her tummy are pepperoni, red sauce (maybe?), milk, onion, and eggs. Gas drops take the edge off but don’t really help. We briefly tried using gripe water with her at night but it seemed to both her too as she did not sleep as well those nights. It could have been coincidence, but we have discontinued the use of gripe water.

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Grace hated HATED being swaddled when we first got home but after forcing it on her she seems to really enjoy it. Seth is by far the better swaddler, but I am most improved. Grace is very strong and really really good at breaking out of a swaddle. In fact, we swaddle her twice and she could still break out. This first time I swaddled her tight enough that she could not break out I felt more accomplished than when I earned my master’s degree. Seriously. Our doula gave us a swaddle me wrap and we have been using the heck out of it. It is so much easier to use it, especially in the middle of the night. We ordered 3 more we enjoy them so much.

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Prior to the introduction of the swaddleme, our routine was that I would feed Grace and then Seth would swaddle her and put her back to bed. One night I brought Grace back and told Seth she was ready to be swaddled. He got out of bed and was fidgeting with his pillow. I was really annoyed and didn’t understand why it was so important for him to fluff his pillow at that moment. He then laid the pillow down on top of the blankets that were laid out, just waiting on a baby to swaddle. I asked Seth was he was doing with his pillow. He looked at his pillow and then threw it down. I told him this story the next day and he had no recollection of it happening.

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Thankfully, with each passing day we are all getting to know each other better and we are settling into this new season of life. I truly am looking forward to everything this girl is going to teach me.

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Grace, you are perfectly and wonderfully made. Your dad and I are so lucky we get to be your parents. We don’t deserve the joy you bring to us.

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This Is What Christmas Is

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. (Revelation 21:1-7 NIV)

Reflections on 2012

It’s only December 21st and I feel like Christmas is over. I feel like I have wasted the advent season yet again. I didn’t listen to enough Christmas music. I didn’t just enjoy the beauty of my Christmas tree. I didn’t reflect enough on what the season is truly about.

For the first time since July, I am off work for more than just a weekend. I actually have time to just sit. Time that I don’t have to do anything. I can just be. I laid on my living room floor and realized I have ran, ran, ran since July. I haven’t paused for 2 seconds since then.

I am realizing I need margin in my life. Much more margin than I have been giving myself. I need to find a better work/life balance. My life has definitely been off balance lately. I have felt off kilter for quite awhile. Today at our office Christmas party we were counting off 1-2, 1-2 and so on. I had to think about what to say after the person next to me said 2. Yesterday I went totally the wrong way to a client’s home. I have forgotten so many things that should be second nature to me. I have been overworking. to be honest, I could be more productive at work. Sometimes, I socialize much more than I need to. I am really, really bad at telling myself no and making myself get back to work.

I am just shy of working my job for a year. If I continue at this pace, I will burn out. This morning I was thinking that I couldn’t believe it’s been a year already. But, time does go fast when you run yourself ragged. Tonight I am realizing what a long year it has been. I do have hope the next year will be better, since I’ve heard it takes a solid year to learn the job of a caseworker. I’ve definitely been feeling the learning curve, more so in the last few months than I did in the beginning.

As I think about how I’ve been so busy I’ve nearly missed the advent season, I wonder if that can’t be said about 2012 altogether. I’ve been far busier since I graduated than I ever was in grad school. I think I’ve shifted more towards extraversion, but tonight I’m thinking I shifted a little too much and my inner introvert is the pounding in my chest. The introverted part of me has been in hiding and is begging to be let out.

In 2013, I hope to swing the pendulum a bit closer to the center of my work/life balance and perhaps learn how to savor this life that is quickly passing me by.

This Week

I’ve been feeling really stressed…

And yet really thankful.

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I’ve been enjoying the sights and sounds of Christmas, although with temps in the 60s this weekend it doesn’t much feel like Christmas.

I’ve felt true anger towards foster parents who give up on kids, all the while wanting to maintain control over their lives.

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I’ve been learning that just doing whatever it is I am putting off can actually relieve stress. Whether it’s unloading the dishwasher, or going to see that client I am dreading. If I just do it I instantly feel better.

I’ve learned i just need to let go of things I can’t control. Like clients who don’t return my calls. I have realized I can’t take it personally.

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I’ve learned paying extra on a student loan can lift a burden and create one all at the same time.

I’ve learned a Christmas candle combined with Christmas music can go a long way in making me relax. I’ve also discovered I don’t understand Spotify at all, but I am thankful for creative people who make Christmas playlists I love.