Archives for the month of: October, 2013

Does anyone else recall the days of middle school, junior high, or high school when a week was set aside to showcase school spirit through a series of random (and rather absurd) themes? There was pajama day- the day that boys were thrilled that they were not only allowed but encouraged to literally roll out of bed and into school, and girls got up even earlier than usual in an attempt to somehow still look put-together wearing their cutest pair of drawstrings. Nerd day, wacky hair day, and superhero day all followed suite, each it’s own spectacular display of the students’ personalities. And finally it all culminated with spirit day, wherein students purchased school attire en masse boosting the revenue for sports equipment and school pride all in one fell swoop. The overarching idea of course was to bring the student body together at the beginning of a new school year and renew each one’s enthusiasm for another year of hard work and learning after the ever-to-short summer break. 

Well, here I sit in my twenties, married with a child, feeling like I am going through a bit of a “spirit week” myself. 

No, of course I’m not dressing up as a super hero or waving pom-poms (though some days I could certainly win the contest for pajama day and wacky hair day!) But I do feel a bit like I’m going through a stretch of time wherein my devotion to God is being renewed as I dive into a season of hard work after a long, self-indulgent “summer.”

Instead of daily themes, mine are closer to weekly (thanks to Bible Study Fellowship which has proven to be God’s main mouthpiece in my life for the past couple of months!). Between the lessons of motherhood, conversations, bible study, and life circumstance, the Holy Spirit is making these themes clear. Themes include: “submission”, “immediate obedience”, “resisting temptation”, “trusting vs. grumbling”, “daily commitment”, and “earthly vs. heavenly treasures.” The overarching idea is simple, but ever so complex and difficult: selflessness. 

Like the teenage girls on pajama day, during most themes I still find myself attempting to maintain my composure and learn the lessons without allowing them to impact my life. “Ya ya ya, I am called to submit to my husband.” But really, do I? What about when it comes to parenting, something I never knew I would feel so passionate about. Or “I know, I know, I am suppose to resist the temptation to sin.” But what about the ‘small’ sins, like complaining or self-indulgence? 

My “spirit week” is not as much fun as I recall the high school dress-up days, but I believe it is infinity more valuable and I am trying to remind myself that at the end comes “spirit day”… when my enthusiasm for this new season will be at its peak and I will wave my pom-poms like I just don’t care (about my own self-indulgent desires that is)! 

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Three and a half months and I am ready to revisit Boden’s birth story.

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Boden’s birth was not particularly traumatic compared to many stories I have heard; but, that doesn’t mean it was easy.

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Giving birth is not easy.

Even the “easiest” birth has to be one of the hardest things in the world.

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JennaT_130710_022-2After Bo was born, everyone wanted to know his “birth story.” In particular, how long I was in labor.

That is a tricky question, as I’m sure most moms can relate.

Do I tell them the length of time I was feeling some sort of labor pains (close to 100 hours), the length of time I knew I was in labor (about 15 hrs), or the length of time I was in the hospital before he was born (5 hrs)?

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None of these figures seem quite accurate in my mind.

In some ways my labor seems to have taken an eternity. Three full nights of intermittent labor pains with little to no sleep accompanied by two days of worry, doubt, and frustrated waiting.

In other ways my labor seemed to have flown by. 15 hours? It felt like one minute I was eating dinner on the patio of Grove restaurant, the next I was in the bathtub, the next we were on the way to the hospital, and the next I was pushing.

To be honest, the whole things feels more like a dream than a memory.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a very poor long-term memory.While I can memorize songs, verses, and phone numbers quite easily, remembering my childhood or even what I did last weekend can be a challenge. So I take pictures.

Most of my memories are like a “big bang” in my head…a single photo exploding into an entire event or feeling.

This is why I knew I needed photos of Boden’s birth.  And why it’s taken me a few months to be ready to look back on these photos and experience the explosion of memory and feeling that would accompany them.

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My sister Brittany took these for me throughout my 5 hours of labor in the hospital (2:00am-7:00am). Sometimes I could hear the “click” and “snap” of the camera. Other times I was in a trance and could barely remain coherent, let alone notice the hovering lens.

One of the most surprising things about looking back at these images is how calm I appear.

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I remember the pain being very real, very intense, and very powerful. But I also remember the supernatural peace that rested on me.

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At times I was screaming inside my head, but outwardly I was simply breathing.

Later my dula would call this “breathing the baby out”… something she said she had never actually witnessed until my delivery of Boden.

My dula was a great support. At one point (around hour 9 of the 15-hour labor process…or hour 80 of the 100-hour ordeal, depending on how you look at it) I felt that I couldn’t go on. After 3 nights and two days of hardly sleeping and now the hours of such hard physical, mental, and emotional work, I remember barely having the energy to cry as I sat on my bed, sipped a cup of hot water with honey (to keep my blood-sugars up) and hung my head. She looked at me and told me that I needed to let go of my fear. My labor, though extremely intense, was not moving forward very quickly and would continue to “stall” if I did not let go and allow nature to take it’s course. Without realizing it, I had been tensing my body with each pain and mentally preparing for the next one. I was in the thick of it… terrified to go forward, yet knowing I couldn’t go back.

So I did. I gave in. I began to think of the pains differently. Rather than each one being a battle that I needed to survive and wishing for it to be over as soon as it started, I began to think of each pain as one more step closer to bringing my son into this world. And I welcomed each one, drawing it out to its fullest potential so that it would not be in vain. As soon as I felt the wave of a contraction, I would completely release my body into it’s current. I hung from Ben’s arms like dead-weight and mentally encouraged my body to create a smooth passageway for Boden’s entrance into the world.

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A therapist friend of mine once encouraged me to face a difficult future event by mentally imagining myself at that event as the person I wanted to be. To see myself walking, talking, and moving through that experience with peace, joy, and calm. Then seeing myself after the event, happy and proud of the way I had handle myself. Though I didn’t consciously think about this tactic during my labor, looking back, I see that I moved through it as the person I always hoped to be. Calm, cool, and collected. Not shouting or short or scared. I am happy and proud of the way I handled myself. Knowing it was not me, but the power of the Holy Spirit that is in me.

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I endured the suffering for the joy set before me.

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The joy of the new life I was privileged to birth.

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You know that saying, “sleeping like a baby?” I’m pretty sure it’s suppose to mean “sleeping soundly” or “sleeping like a rock” or something like that. Well, as a mother of a baby, I believe the saying needs to be revised. It should be “sleeping like a newborn.”  From my experience, my sweet little baby has not “slept like a baby” since he was about 6 weeks old… and I’m beginning to realize that I may partially to blame. 

When Bo was 6 weeks old, we moved him out of our room and his little bassinet and into his own room and “big boy” crib. I knew we needed to begin to establish healthy sleep habits, hence my frantic reading of the book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, which I would recommend. The book suggested that we pay close attention to Boden’s “drowsy signs” and put him down for naps straight away when we noticed he seemed tired. Then we were to only get him up when it was time to eat (not to change diapers, console, or play). It was a good plan and worked for a while… of course, somewhere along the way, I lost my resolve or my confidence in the plan and began getting Bo up before the end of his nap. When Bo cried midway through his nap, I would change his diaper and he would go right back to sleep. It was so easy. I knew it wasn’t Dr. Weissbluth’s method, but I rationalized that Bo would get more rest if he didn’t have to cry so long during his nap (of course, I never really admitted that this also saved me the agony of listening to his whimpers). So, we got off track and things just snowballed from there. 

Eventually we found ourselves in a very “unhealthy sleep habit.” Not only was Bo waking up from every nap with a wet diaper, but I also realized it was consistently happening 45 minutes into his nap (almost like clockwork). I found out from other moms (and another good book “Happiest Baby on the Block” by Harvey Karp) that this happens when babies transition from one sleep cycle to the next- from “light” sleep to “deep” sleep. Ugh, in my attempt to help Boden sleep better, I had unknowingly interrupted his transition time and taught him to depend on me to get into his deep sleep cycle! Of course, this was not really a problem for Bo, but I was getting exhausted! If I was to remain sane, and truly help Bo get the rest he needs, the habit couldn’t continue. 

Now we’re both paying the price. 

It’s been just 2 days now of “baby bootcamp” in which I have stopped consoling or changing diapers at 45 minutes into nap time and it’s so tough on both of us! Poor Bo has to be so confused as to why mommy has stopped responding to his cries, and I am heart-broken hearing him call out for me. Though I can (and so badly desire to) take away Bo’s discomfort in the blink of an eye, I force myself to stand by and let him work through it on his own. I am still here, still watching over him and would never allow him to be harmed (as my mother always reminds me, “a little wet diaper never hurt anyone”), but rather than give in to the short-term gain of his comfort, I am looking to the long-term benefits that outweigh his present suffering. 

I was journaling last night about all of this and, after putting the words to paper, realized that my thoughts/feelings were probably very similar to the way that our Heavenly Father feels as he allows us to struggle. He is the Almighty, capable of taking away our discomfort, pain, and sadness in the blink of an eye, yet sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes He sits by and allows us to work through hard things on our way. Always attentive and protective, but not always coming to our aide in the way we want Him to. Though we are so caught up in our present suffering that we cry out and ask Him to take it away, He sees beyond our current circumstances and, knowing what is best for us in the long run, allows us to work through it. 

Even as I care for this sweet little baby, I realize that in many ways I am just like him. I too am like a baby in my faith and my Heavenly Father is teaching me healthy habits (Proverbs 3:12). 

So, whenever I find myself struggling, going through a little “baby bootcamp,” I am reminded that my Heavenly Father will never leave me nor forsake me (Joshua 1:4-6). He wants what is best for me in the long run and the future benefits far outweigh my present suffering (Romans 8:17-18). 

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Sigh.

We made it.

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Boden is 3 months old.

In the world of babies, this is (apparently) known as “the turning point.”

From the first week of our lives as new parents, old(er) parents reassured us that the sleepless nights and complete lack of predictability would significantly decrease at the 12 week mark. Of course they all meant well, but honestly I tried not to listen because… well, I might as well admit it… I’m a pessimist. I didn’t really believe them, but oh how I wanted to! Or maybe the more accurate statement is that I wanted to believe them, but oh how I was afraid to! Afraid to be let down. Afraid 12 weeks would come and go without so much as a breath or change. We were both wrong.

The 3 month mark has turned out to be a turning point of sorts (as they said), yet it’s also come and gone without a major “to-do” (as I thought).

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Yesterday I went out to coffee with a friend. (side note: Ben has been courageous enough to watch Bo a few times while I’m able to have these short outings and what a world of difference that has made!) She shared some big news with me that she had started seeing someone. Very exciting. In the spirit of commonality, I eagerly announced that I too had “big news”! “Are you pregnant again already?!” she blurted. We both had a laugh and kept chatting as we walked (her with a chai and me with a non-caffienated fruity tea…oh how I miss caffeine). I finally told her that the night before Boden had slept 8 hours straight for the first time. “Wow,” she said, “that’s great. Oh, so what was your big news?” ….. That was it. In the world of babies, 8 hours straight is known as “big news.”

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After coffee, Ben and I went to two birthday parties back-to-back with both sides of our family. Of course the expected question was asked, “so, how is Bo doing?” and I was all too eager to share my “big news” that our 3 month old had slept through the night! The word was out, we had definitely reached “the turning point.” I couldn’t have been more proud.

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Last night…you guessed it… we barely slept, waking up every 3-4 hrs to feed or console our big 3 month old.

8 a.m. rolled around.

Sigh.

We made it.

Through the night.

Perhaps our big “turning point” will turn out be a bit more like a very wide bend in the road… not the kind that shifts you in your seat, but rather a slight drift that eventually takes you in a new direction.

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With a chill in the air, I was craving some fall treats! These are easy, tasty, and…not too unhealthy 😉

DAIRY-FREE PUMPKIN PIE SMOOTHIE

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Ingredients:

– 1 cup ice

– 1 cup almond milk

– 1/2 cup almond butter

– 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

– 2 Tbs. maple syrup

– 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Blend and enjoy!

DAIRY-FREE MAPLE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

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– 1/2 cup Tofutti cream cheese*

– 1 1/2 Tbs. maple syrup

– 2 Tbs butter (softened)

– 1/2 tsp. vanilla

*this recipe would be sugar-free; however, I noticed that the tofutti cream cheese does contain sugar, unfortunately.

Combine with hand mixer. Scoop into a  zip-loc baggie and cut the corner to pipe onto desserts.

I just so happened to have some flourless peanut butter banana muffins in my refrigerator, so I iced those to make some delicious cupcakes!

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Do you know what you do when you have become pregnant unexpectedly 2 months after your wedding in your early 20’s?

You look at the bright side.

You revel in the fact that you will be empty nesters before your friends.

You make a list.

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Last night was Ben and my “date night”… also known as the night we spend a couple of hours pretending we are our old selves. We dress up. I wear jewelry. We hold hands. I have a glass of wine. We look into each others eyes as we talk. I remember that life is bigger than me and Bo.

As we wined and dined, we began talking about all of the things we would do when our little birds flew the nest…

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We will go on a West Coast Road Trip from Vancouver all the way to Mexico.

We will travel to all of those distant places people long to go but never have the time to… Australia, New Zeeland, and Fiji.

We will hike the Rocky Mountains.

We will scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef.

We will ski the Swiss Alps.

We will visit the Holy Lands of Israel.

We will go back to Italy and “redo” our honeymoon.

We will run a bed & breakfast in a quant town.

I will go to Fashion Week in New York (or Paris!).

Ben will play golf at Augusta.

I will open a gluten-free bakery.

Ben will survive alone on a deserted island.

I will compete in a Mud Run.

Ben will catch a Marlin.

I will write a book.

Ben will eat a real banana straight from the tree.

I will read the entire Bible.

Of course, we may never accomplish all of these things, but I am guessing we will accomplish some. So, if we ever look at each other after our kids are grown and gone and say, “well, what now?” we will have this list to get us started.

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And in the meantime, I will accomplish smaller victories…

I will bake a whole cake from scratch.

I will run a 5k.

I will start a blog (wink).

I will read the Bible daily.

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What’s on your list?

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