thankfulness 2015

This year I’ve been particularly reflective about the blessing of family. This time last year we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of our third baby, little Atticus Garrett, for whom my labor started the morning after Thanksgiving.

This past year has brought much growth in all of us. My girls became big sisters to a baby brother, and they have been challenged to love him well but also to grow in their own independence. They’ve also continued to develop in their own right, growing closer and closer to being the women they’re going to be. Matt and I have been so encouraged by the ways in which they’ve grown this year, and we’re enjoying them more and more as people.

And that Atticus boy – I’m trying to soak him in. There are his adorable curls and the way he smiles and reaches for me when I walk into a room. There’s the way he curls into my chest and reaches his hand inside my shirt when he’s wanting to nurse. There’s the way he tucks his head into me and scrunches his eyes shut when he’s ready to go to sleep. There’s his increasingly steady gait as he practices walking longer and longer distances. There are his excited squeals and gesticulations every time he sees an animal, whether cat or dog or even fish. There’s the amusing way he seeks a way to climb on anything and everything, whether stove, staircase, or couch. I want to take every part of this fun time and sear it into my memory for revisiting in the future when my little guy has moved beyond this stage.

IMG_8851

And of course there is my relationship with Matt, my partner in parenting and beyond. With the girls at Awana every Wednesday night, we’ve been able to get out for some regular date nights this semester, which we’ve very much enjoyed. This year we’ve been studying parenting, experiencing the writings of Madeleine L’Engle, and trying to dream big about future possibilities for art, writing, learning, building, ministry, and travel.

I feel myself, now a mom of three, being stretched and growing into more and more the mother I’d like to be. I’m more comfortable in this role of constant out-pouring of love, energy, and grace. I have the perspective of five-and-a-half years in this parenting role to know that the interrupted sleep and the need for constant supervision of my baby-almost-toddler will come to an end. I’m realizing that focusing on the difficulties of certain stages is less helpful than enjoying their positives and strategizing about parenting well in the midst of them. I’m content in not being able to do all that much ministry outside of our family (though it is a blessing to be able to do what I can with some lay counseling and children’s ministry and hosting our missional community group and a few other things), realizing that this is a season, and there will be other seasons that look different. For now, I can focus on loving my kiddos well, reading that extra book, taking those minutes to snuggle, listening to that made-up joke, rubbing that back, rocking that baby.

IMG_8763

And this year at Thanksgiving we are immersed in the added blessing of being with my family – my always-serving mother and game-playing father and my awesome brothers and Danny’s fiancee, Sharon. I see now what I didn’t as a child, that the friendships I had then were important, but it would be with my brothers that I would have my most enduring and meaningful relationships. I’m grateful that even as we live spread across the country from one another, we’re able to maintain relationships and support, encourage, and enjoy each other.

IMG_8864

And of course I am grateful to the God who is the author of it all. I find myself yearning to know and understand Him more and more. As Atticus cries for me and only me at night, I wonder what it would feel like to know that He and only He has what I need, to cry out for Him and refuse to settle for anything less. I pray for that.

Two-And-A-Half Months with Our Little Guy!

Our little guy is now over 2 months old!

Atticus is an incredibly happy baby.

054And he continues to be everyone’s favorite little snuggle bug.

026

He’s definitely growing well. At his two-month appointment with his pediatrician, he was in the 88th percentile for length and 73rd percentile for weight. He seems so big to me that I was actually surprised those numbers weren’t higher!

He’s also getting stronger all the time. He enjoys tummy time more now that he can hold his head up a lot better – and of course the girls are always eager to come hang out with him on his blanket.

008

He truly enjoys his sisters. He’s a social little guy, so he doesn’t like being put down and left alone, but I often set him up in his bouncy seat and ask one of the girls to sit and talk to him while I get dinner going or switch the laundry or something of that nature. I’ll return to find them cooing and smiling at each other happily 🙂

He gets a ton of language exposure. I was actually worried that he wouldn’t pick up words as quickly as Miranda did, since I wouldn’t be able to give him as much direct one-on-one time, but now that I’ve seen what his life actually looks like, I realize how silly that concern was! Matt and I both still talk to him quite a bit, but the girls are also speaking to him constantly. On top of that, we read to the girls a lot, both for school and for fun, and he’s around for much of that and just soaks it in along with them.

013

And – in response to the #1 question for parents of babies his age – he is sleeping very well 🙂 He gives us good, long stretches of sleep at night, usually just waking to nurse 2-3 times each night. His naps are more variable, which is not ideal (from my perspective), but it’s very typical for a baby his age, and it’s not a real problem.

001

All in all, I think things are going pretty well. We’re not back to our normal patterns from our life before his arrival, but we never will be. It feels like we’ve established at least the outline of what our new normal (for now) is, though. We’re able to do school, run errands, and take care of most of the everyday tasks of cooking and cleaning. And for the most part, Matt and I are both able to do the work we need to do and have quality time together. We’ve even been able to start spending a little bit of time with friends and having people over for dinner again.

There are hard things about this stage of life, though. I often feel like everything continues to run smoothly as long as I am working toward that end constantly – using any spare minutes to get a few more dishes into the dishwasher or start a load of laundry. There’s more to do, and everything just takes longer these days. I never know when I’m going to have a free 20 minutes to accomplish (or even start!) any task that needs to be done, and the unpredictability of it is hard for me. I’d so like to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight and be able to wear something from my closet other than yoga pants. It can be hard to connect with friends when we have 3 young kiddos. And I don’t feel like I get true breaks – since Atticus won’t take a bottle, the instant I finish feeding him, the clock starts ticking down toward the next time he’ll need me.

But the thing about adding a child to our family for the third time is that I know this time is fleeting. This stage won’t last forever – or even very long at all. Soon enough Atticus will begin eating solid food and no longer need me to be his sole source of sustenance – and then I’ll blink, and he’ll be done nursing entirely. His naps will become more regular – and then someday he’ll give them up completely. I think that this time around, I still feel the pressure of the challenges, but I can work with them. I set him up in the bouncy seat and talk to him while I do the dishes, and I grab a book to read while he sleeps in my arms. And I know that these particular challenges will pass, but in the meantime, there’s a heck of a lot of joy available.

I get to see my girls growing in their roles as helpers and nurturers. I get to see the pure joy of Atticus’s smiles and coos and laughter – and I get to be the one at whom he so often directs those beautiful gestures. I get to love and snuggle and read books and answer questions and teach facts and encourage kindness and pray for growth. I get to grow myself, learning more about patience and gentleness and kindness as I feel myself stretched.

These are good things. We’re thankful for them and thankful for the little guy whose arrival ushered us into this new stage of life.

009

Visits from Family

Most often when people ask how we are adjusting to life as a family of five, my thoughts jump immediately to my “to do” lists and how well I’m keeping up with them – and as an afterthought I consider our hearts, how we are loving each other and taking care of ourselves. Really we’re doing pretty well on both fronts, but I definitely need continual reminders to address the latter. And so today, as the girls are upstairs enjoying their rest time and Atticus is sleeping beside me (because this boy is a snugglebug – why sleep in a bassinet when you could have full body contact with your mama?), I open this page to write. Writing, even if not profound, reminds me that I still have a self that is distinct from care-giver-for-the-littles – while that occupies most of my time and I truly believe that it is my calling and I love it, it does not make up the entirety of me. I enjoy these few moments I can grab from time to time to write…and writing also reminds me of what we have celebrated and for what we are thankful.

One of the things for which I am thankful that I haven’t yet shared here is our December visits from our NY family. Matt’s younger sister Stacey flew out for a long weekend about a week and a half after Atticus was born, and Matt’s mom joined us for a few days after Christmas.

They, of course, were quite willing to spend some time holding our little guy 🙂

002

And that truly is helpful! With 2 other kiddos for whom to care and a household to run, I certainly didn’t mind other people spending some time snuggling with and getting to know the newest member of our family!

The girls also got in some great quality time with both their aunt and their grandma, which was a blessing for them and also for Matt and me. Since they live over 1,000 miles away, we don’t get to see our NY family very often. We still want our kiddos to have good relationships with them, though, so it really was wonderful to have some of them here and spending so much time with our kids.

018

photo 1

And of course it was great for Matt and me to get to see his mom and sister, too! We so appreciate the fact that we can keep up with far-away family through Facebook and phone calls and texts, but there’s so much ground you can cover in a few days together that the sporadic long-distance interactions don’t provide. It was so nice to have some time to get more caught up on each other’s lives! And we hope to make it out to New York this summer to have the opportunity to re-connect with the entire New York side of the family and introduce Atticus to them!

Another Baby Update (the last one???)

Today we hit the 36 week mark in this pregnancy for baby Atticus, so we’re really coming up to the end, and I have to say, I’m very much looking forward to it! Really, Matt and I have been attempting some pretty significant projects over the last couple weeks, including stripping wallpaper and painting our dining room, painting our living room, and stocking up on freezer meals, so I wouldn’t mind another couple weeks to get those finished.

However, this pregnancy has been rather more uncomfortable than my last one. With Miranda, other than a strong desire to meet this child of mine, I was quite content to stay pregnant for as long as she wanted (or at least as long as my doctor would let me!). This time around, I’m not having any complications that are likely to have serious medical implications for Atticus or for me, but I think I’m experiencing just about every complication that causes discomfort – nausea, heartburn, back pain, hip and leg pain, trouble sleeping, etc. I’m ready to be done with all of that! I bought some satin sheets last week to enable me to roll over in bed more easily, and that really has helped, but I’m still looking forward to getting a non-pregnant body back 🙂 And of course I am excited to meet our little guy!

And who knows, it may be soon, or it may still be a while! Here I am at just over 33 weeks.

025

Around 34 weeks I started having intermittent contractions, which have gotten slightly stronger and more frequent over the last couple weeks but have never developed into a pattern or anything that necessitated a call to my doctor, but at least they’re a reminder that my body knows that labor needs to happen at some point soon!

And here I am Sunday evening at 35 weeks and 5 days – continuing to get bigger and bigger!

003 (2)

I’ve been reviewing some of my childbirth materials for a refresher on labor and birth. I would like to have a natural (med-free) delivery if at all possible, but honestly, the most striking thing about all the info I’m reviewing is how incredibly overly dramatic it all is. Of our two girls, I delivered one naturally,  breastfed her within the first hour of her life, and have parented her primarily using attachment-parenting-style techniques from day one; and the other I did not even meet until she was over 2 years old. Guess which one often seems to be more securely attached?

I am quite confident that my bond with Atticus is not going to be irrevocably shattered if something unexpected happens and I have to get an epidural or end up needing an emergency c-section with general anesthesia and don’t actually meet him for an entire 4 hours (gasp!) after he’s born. I believe in taking parenting decisions seriously and making the best choices we can for ourselves and our babies. However, this is one moment out of an entire lifetime of parenting moments, and I’m not willing to make it into more than it is. We’re reviewing our childbirth info, but I’m certainly not going to obsess over any of it.

And in the meantime, amidst projects and childbirth prep, I’m trying to enjoy these last days or weeks that I have as a mom of two 🙂

a baby update

It has been a while since I posted my last baby Atticus update, and I thought you all might like to see how he – or at least my belly – is doing 🙂

Here’s a photo at almost 24 weeks.

002

And here’s a more recent one at just over 29 weeks.

003

Obviously we’re both getting larger 🙂 All is as it should be!

He’s an active little guy. It’s hard for me to be sure, since it has been so long, but I’m pretty sure he is more active than Miranda was. One of his favorite times to be most active is when I get back into bed after waking in the middle of the night to use the bathroom – not exactly what I would have chosen, but I’ll take what I can get 🙂

Now that we know he is a little boy, the girls and I have had fun doing just a little bit of shopping for him.

003

It’s nice for even third babies to have a few new items that their mommies have picked out for them 🙂 And honestly, I think there’s something about selecting items for your little one and picturing them wearing or using them…at least for me, it helps me begin the attachment process and look forward more specifically to their arrival. We’ve been blessed by several friends offering us hand-me-downs, which we’re more than happy to accept gratefully, and some of our early baby clothes are neutral colored, so I think he’ll be set when he arrives, but it was still fun for the girls and me to choose a few new items ourselves!

We’re starting to plan more specifically for his arrival, too. We got out the baby furniture and have most of it set up in our bedroom, and while I still need to wipe it down, the infant car seat is at least out of the attic now. I attended an infant CPR class to brush up on those procedures a couple weeks ago, and we have childcare lined up for the girls for when we go into labor (so thankful for good friends who are willing to be on call 24/7 for that!). Matt and I need to do a quick review of some of our labor and childbirth books, and I’d love to take a tour of the hospital, since they’ve rearranged some things since we were there last, so I need to get that on the calendar, but I’m not super concerned about it. Mostly there are some additional household projects we’d like to get out of the way before he arrives, and I’d like to have some more money set aside to fund my “maternity leave” from work, but by and large, I think we’re pretty well set up for him and his arrival, whenever that happens to be – but we are hoping for another couple months here before he makes his entrance 🙂