Sunday, May 22, 2011

Eight Months

Lily is now eight months old… sigh. Next she’ll be going off to college! That’s how it feels sometimes because she is growing and changing so much. Here’s the rundown of what Miss Lily has been doing:

Eating: Lily continues to be my good little eater. I try to introduce one or two new foods each week and she likes almost everything. The biggest new things she’s having these days are yogurt and meats (turkey and chicken). She’s not nuts over the yogurt, either because the taste is not her favorite, or maybe because she’s not used to eating cold things.

She’s doing really well with her baby foods, and I think we’ll soon be giving her Stage 3 and chunkier foods. Right now she still wakes up to nurse around 6:30 AM. I feed her her breakfast of oatmeal and fruit at 9:30 AM. Lunchtime is 12:30, and I give her some of a meat dinner with one or two veggies. Then she usually has a mixed fruit or yogurt snack around 3:00. For dinner around 6:00 she has barley or brown rice cereal with another portion of a meat dinner and veggies. She will usually nurse again before bed around 7:30. Lily does nurse about 2 or 3 times during the day between meals as well. She will sometimes have a few sips of water or diluted apple juice after a meal, but so far she doesn’t seem to be a big drinker.

Whew! All of this eating sure does keep me on my toes. I have to pay attention to the schedule, especially because Lily doesn’t really cry when she’s hungry anymore. I pretty much watch the clock and feed her her meals regularly.

Sleeping: This month sleep has been the biggest challenge in our home. I don’t know what happened to my baby who used to sleep 9-10 hours straight at night!

Well, first things first: we made the big move to her crib in her own room around 7.5 months. It was our first night home after being away at my mom’s all week, so we thought it would be a good time for the transition. And she did really well for about a week or two. Lily’s sleep regression (if that’s what it is) started around 6.5 months, so I really don’t think it has much to do with sleeping in her crib. At first I was beside myself because she was waking up 2 or 3 times a night. That was nothing! Over the past two weeks the night wakings have increased to 6 times and sometimes more. Lily goes right back to sleep when we pick her up and she sleeps great… when we hold her. I know that people will suggest letting her cry it out, but I can’t do that. I just don’t have it in me. Instead, we have been trying to reduce the number of times we do go in (recognizing when it’s just her “sleepy cry” when she will go back to sleep on her own) and making sure to put her right back in her bed when we do pick her up rather than holding or rocking for hours. She is getting better about soothing herself when she wakes up, or requiring less intervention from us when she becomes really upset. Now we can usually just pat her or hold her hand for a few minutes until she settles back down and goes to sleep. We have also switched from white noise to some soothing music in her room at night and I think that helps.

We are much better off now than we were a week ago. Hopefully it will keep moving in the right direction. I think she is on her way to learning that her bed is a nice, cozy place to drift off to sleep. (*fingers crossed*) I have read that this is a common issue for babies this age, which makes me feel better I guess, but I’m still reading a couple of books (as quickly as I can) that I hope will help us get through this and, most importantly, help Lily to get a good night’s sleep. Oh yes, and we’re looking forward once again to the day when we’ll wake up well-rested at her normal wake-up time of 6:30 and realize that she slept all the way through!

Her naps seem to be unaffected by all of this night-time stuff. She’s taking two a day, one in mid- to late-morning and one in early afternoon, each about an hour long. And we have finally succeeded in making her bedtime earlier, usually between 7:30 and 8:00.

Milestones: It’s definitely true that lack of sleep has made us all a bit crazy this month, but honestly the good has far outweighed the bad. For example, Lily started giving kisses all on her own about a week ago. It is the sweetest thing EVER. Sometimes one of her precious, slobbery, open-mouthed kisses is all I need to get through a tough day! Those spontaneous kisses are so precious, and now she is learning to recognize what it means when we ask her for a kiss.

Also new this month – Lily now blows raspberries with her mouth and chews on her toes.

She babbles a whole lot more now than she used to, and we sure do enjoy hearing her voice and listening to all of her sweet new sounds. (No intentional words yet; her favorite “word” right now sounds like “abwa.”)

Her other cute new trick is that she can play peekaboo (we call it “peep eye” where I come from). If there is a blanket or burp cloth within reach, she will put it over her head and wait for us to ask “Where’s Lily?” so she can pull it down and get a big reaction out of us. It’s so cute and she loves this game, as I guess most babies do!

Lily’s looks are changing quite a bit as she grows. We used to hear everyone say that she looked so much like me, but now the general opinion is that she looks more like her daddy. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My First Mother's Day

Sunday was my first Mother's Day to celebrate.

I feel like I've been a mother before this year, of course, but this was my first one with a baby in my arms. In previous years I had the heart of a mother, but I'd never been able to hold my babies, see their faces, or even know their names. Unfortunately, no one really recognizes you as a mother in that case, besides maybe a few caring family members and special, sensitive friends.

I think it will always be a day of mixed feelings. I can't erase all the years of hurt that I used to feel on that day, but I will rejoice for the child that I've been given. I'll always miss the six little ones who aren't here, and I'll always feel a heaviness in my heart for all of my precious friends who will be hurting and grieving and dreading the day.

For a long time I didn't know whether I'd ever be on the other side of recurrent miscarriage, but I did know that if it ever did happen to me, I wouldn't care about feeling honored or celebrated on Mother's Day. For me, the gift was my daughter, my miracle, my answered prayer, and my healing heart. It wasn't a day about me; it was a day about the power of my God. Although it was a long and rocky road to get there, He finally brought the two of us together in His own time and His own way. Sometimes I didn't wait patiently. Sometimes I felt angry, confused, bitter, and hopeless. But God mercifully made a way for a baby to grow in my womb, and that's what I celebrated on Mother's Day.

I wanted to have a simple, sweet day with my husband and daughter, and that's exactly what it was. It was a beautiful day here in Texas, and although I specifically told my husband that I didn't expect gifts, flowers, etc., he did all of that anyway (which is true to form). It was really, really special. After a sweet morning at home just the three of us, we went to church in a nearby town where we'd been invited to watch my dear friend's daughter perform in a play. It wasn't a Mother's Day service at all, but the pastor did recognize the occasion briefly during the welcome. I was touched that, on my first time in church on Mother's Day in probably 5 or 6 years, this particular pastor made a point to pay tribute to all women present. He had the men and children come forward to take a flower and hand it out to mothers, grandmothers, aunts, teachers, or any other women who had impacted their lives, and I thought that it was done just right. It was a far cry from some of the really isolating, lonely Mother's Day church services that I'd experienced in the past. I'm sure it may be true that my heart is different now, but I genuinely felt that it was the kind of moment that would have left most women in just about any circumstance or stage of life feeling pretty appreciated and special. It was great.

We had lunch with our friends afterward (I was so proud that Lily again sat so well through the entire service!) and returned home to a fun afternoon of ice cream and a walk in the park. It was a perfect and lovely day.

Of course I did miss not being with my own mom on that day. We knew after being there for the past two weekends that we wouldn't be together for Mother's Day, but my mom was able to spend the day with her mother, who hasn't been doing well lately. And my sweet mom sent me a precious card that touched my heart so much. I wanted to share with you what she wrote that brought tears to my eyes when I read it.


It is with great awe of our heavenly Father that I am able to send you this card. Years ago I found this card... I kept this waiting and praying for God to give you a miracle and the desire of your broken heart. Oh, what a beautiful blessing He gave to all of us... our sweet, precious, and beautiful Lily Rae!

You are the wonderful mother I always knew that you'd be. Cherish each minute, because they grow so fast. My heart just overflows with love every time I see her. Enjoy your first Mother's Day, and to God be all the glory!

I love you,

To God be the glory!
Amen, Mom. Amen.

Mother's Day 2011, My Longing Fulfilled

Saturday, May 7, 2011

For Mother's Day

Mother’s Day has been an emotional day for me for a number of years. It’s one of those days, like so many holidays, that can bring up a lot of hurt when you’re on the outside looking in. When you are a mother without her children here on earth or are struggling with infertility, it can be such a painful, hard day.

For years I tried to handle this day not by ignoring it altogether, but by focusing on celebrating my own amazing mom and the special women in my life. I made sure that I was surrounded by my family on that day every year, as often as possible. We were almost never home on Mother’s Day, choosing instead to spend it with my family or my in-laws so that my mind wouldn’t be on all that I’d lost.

We announced our first pregnancy to my mom on Mother’s Day nine years ago. I was so full of joy and excitement on that day, and boy was I na├»ve, too. Miscarriage was nowhere on my radar. I knew some women who had been through it, including my own mother. My mom lost the baby she was carrying after she had me, and she has always talked with us about that loss. She wanted that baby and was very sad when her pregnancy ended too soon. I know she still thinks about him or her more than thirty years later, wondering what might have been. I sometimes wondered what it would have been like to have a younger sibling close to my age, but I really never thought about miscarriage happening to me. I certainly never ever imagined that it would happen to me six times, and that my body would fail to support a pregnancy over and over again.

My husband and I were talking this week about how having Lily has changed things for us. She has changed everything, but perhaps not only in the most obvious ways. I told him how this Mother’s Day feels so different. In the past, I missed the babies that we lost so much. It’s a different kind of missing, though – not the kind where you miss someone you once knew and have a memory of their face or their laugh or something you did or shared together. I missed them in the sense of feeling an absence. My life was missing them, or to be more clear, they were missing from my life, and in their place was a huge, empty hole. Lily hasn’t taken their place, but she has filled that hole in my heart and fulfilled the desire that I had to have a child and be a mother.

In a way that I didn’t expect, though, she makes me miss the babies I miscarried from a whole new perspective. Now that I have Lily, it makes me realize much more clearly what was lost. We didn’t just lose six fuzzy images on an ultrasound screen. We lost our children, each one unique and special and loved. Now that I’ve seen Lily’s round, rosy cheeks, looked into her dark eyes, and heard her squeal with laughter; now that I’ve rocked her to sleep every single day for seven and a half months, I realize more than ever before that I will always miss the babies that we didn’t get to keep with us. She makes me understand how much I did love them and how much more I could have loved them every day. As long as I’m here and they are not, they will be missing from my life. And as long as I go on missing them, I will all the more appreciate the miracle that I’ve been given.

My perspective is very different this year for Mother’s Day. I suspected it would be so, but some of the feelings have surprised me. Most of all, of course, I feel full and happy and grateful. I don’t feel that emptiness anymore. I’m profoundly thankful and humbled that I have someone here who calls me “Mommy.” Well, she can’t talk just yet, but there’s a sweet baby girl whose face lights up when I enter the room and who thinks I’m the funniest person in the whole world (even funnier than Daddy!), and I can’t believe I get to be her mother.

Flowers, cards, and gifts are all lovely things, but I have my gift already. It’s so much more than I ever dreamed, and it’s more than enough.

As always… praying for those of you who are waiting, especially on this day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

First Easter

Mommy and Lily - Easter 2011

We had a wonderful first Easter with Lily this year!

The three of us went to Louisiana to stay with my mom for the weekend (and Lily and I stayed all week). We all attended Easter services at my sister's church, where her father-in-law is the pastor. It felt really good to be back in church again. You may recall that the small mission church where we had been serving for the past 8 years closed just about a month before Lily was born, and we have not yet looked for a new church home. We were happy to be able to take Lily to church for the first time on Resurrection Sunday! My family occupied an entire pew that morning, and it was so good to be there and worship together.

Showing off her Easter outfit :)

I truly had no idea how Lily would do during the service. I was fully prepared to spend at least part (if not all) of it out in the foyer with her, but she surprised me by sitting quietly in my sister's lap the entire time! She enjoyed the music and played with a toy during the message and we never heard a peep out of her. She hammed it up a bit toward the end for the folks sitting behind us, too, making sweet eyes and cute faces at them. I was so proud of my little Easter Lily! We were just delighted that she did so well, and while I'm sure it probably won't go that perfectly every time, it encouraged me about starting our quest soon to find a new church where we live.

Of course, Lily got some Easter baskets filled with goodies: board books, teethers, and small stuffed animals that are perfect for her right now.

We were happy to share little Easter surprises with our sweet nephews, too. I'm so glad I could be there to spend lots of time with them during their Spring Break. My 8-year-old nephew lost his two front teeth just before we arrived, and boy was I happy that it happened before I got there. Pulling teeth has always, always given me the creeps!

A trip home to Louisiana wouldn't be complete without awesome food, and we had plenty of it! I ate rice and gravy to my heart's content, and Lily was happy as a clam because someone was always available to hold her and play with her. It was lots of fun being there to celebrate and go out to eat for my sister's birthday, too.

I finally got my long hair chopped off later in the week as well. My last haircut was about 8 months ago, so you can imagine how good it felt! It was also a treat to be able to watch the Royal Wedding with my mom. We got up and watched it together in the wee hours of the morning, oohing and ahhing over every little detail. Did you guys watch and enjoy it as much as we did?

Lily and I had a lovely week away, but we sure did miss Daddy! He came back to get us the following weekend and I know he was happy to have his baby girl back home.