Tag Archives: Reagan

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Choosing to be brave in a scary world

December 6, 2015

“Careful, be careful,” I hear her tell her imaginary friend through the bedroom door. And I wince. Those words are exactly the opposite of the brave spirit I want to instill in her.

Before Reagan was born I determined I wanted to raise her to be brave and adventurous with a curiosity to see and learn without fear. I wanted to give her the opportunity to try things, to succeed and to fail. And within reason, the space to get hurt. Rather than telling her to be careful I would be more descriptive in helping her learn to be wise and observant to what’s around her, or so I planned. Now I find myself telling her to be careful regularly – when she jumps off the ottoman or carries her stool in to the kitchen. “Be careful, Reagan,” as she scales her changing table.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.

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On Magical Fairies, Kitty Cats and Alligators

October 20, 2015

For the last two years I have singularly chosen what my precious babe would be for Halloween: a ladybug and a little chicken respectively.

The costumes were purchased weeks in advance. Who am I kidding? I bought her first Halloween costume the December before while I was still pregnant (I got a good deal!).

Fast forward to this year. Reagan is two and starting to have her own opinions, so in late September I began asking her just what she might like to be for Halloween. We scoured an entire rack of 2T costumes at a consignment sale.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.

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A Change of Focus

August 28, 2015

I had high expectations for this summer. Those hopes haven’t been met and my summer has been all the better for it.

I’ve been pretty open about my husband and I’s struggle with fertility. We’ve been trying for another baby for many months now and have been diagnosed with “unexplained infertility,” which means just that. We have no idea why we aren’t getting pregnant…

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.

Hating Me

April 17, 2014

“Look at this,” I moan in disgust pinching a handful of stretch-marked, flabby skin from my mid-section. “Why do you even like me?” I ask J dejectedly, adding insult to injury as I place the value of my personhood on the perceived failings of my exterior.

“You had a baby,” he patiently soothes. “You are beautiful and wonderful, and a good Mommy.”

But I hear none of it. Too focused on the imperfections in the mirror. If I could just lose 20 pounds, then I’d be happy, I tell myself.

And I believe it.

I remember the first time my mom mentioned my weight to me. I was in 6th grade. She doesn’t remember, but I can vividly see us standing in the kitchen and my dad telling her she was silly, and that I looked great. A girl needs a dad like that.

It was silly, and that’s probably why my mom has forgotten the conversation. I was fit and healthy, and looking back now, just starting to add a few girlish curves. But I think it’s around that time that I started to realize my mom wasn’t happy with her body. After giving birth to my youngest brother – her third child – she’d struggled to lose the last 10 pounds of baby weight.

My mother was (and still is!) beautiful, vivacious and simply fabulous but I don’t think she always saw it. She was too focused on those 10 pounds.

And now, I’m repeating the cycle. So focused on my imperfections – so focused inwardly – that I sometimes miss out on the joy of just being me with the ones I love.

What would it look like for me to break the cycle before it reaches the next generation – to learn to appreciate my body so that I can teach Reagan to value hers? One thing I know, this change has to start now.  Today.  With me. Steve Maraboli wrote, “There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”

Creative Commons -- photo by Robb North

Creative Commons — photo by Robb North

And so today, instead of focusing on the things my body isn’t and can’t do, I’m choosing to focus on the beauty of my body, the perfect imperfections. The stretch marks that grew as my body expanded to hold and nurture my precious baby. The round arms that offer comfort and hugs to family and friends in need. The pale legs that carry me out into the sunshine to work and make a difference in the world.

And as I focus on living a healthy lifestyle (because even as I learn to value my body, I want it to be healthier so I can do even more with it!), I want to teach my daughter to appreciate her own body and show her how to best take care of it.

Some days I will fail, but I pray that God will give me grace and help refocus my vision when it begins to settle on negative thoughts so that I can see myself the way he sees me.

One Year In: What I’ve learned since becoming a parent

March 26, 2014

In the last year (well, 13 months really but we’ll get to that later), I’ve learned a lot about being a mom. I’ve learned about sleep deprivation and poop, how you can be lonely with a small person strapped to your body 24/7 (okay, that’s an exaggeration because Reagan mostly sleeps in her own bed), and how you can love someone else so wholly and completely that not only would you give up your life for them, but you would live your life with their best interest in mind.

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Looking back over my time as a parent, here are the top ten things I’ve learned so far.

  1. Parenting is harder than I ever imagined. You are learning to put someone else ahead of yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about parents taking care of their needs too but, when it comes down to it, Reagan comes first (if you need evidence just take inventory of her closet compared to mine!).
  2. Parenting is more amazing than I ever imagined. The giggles, the funny faces, the cuddles – I love the smell of Reagan’s hair after her bath, and the feel of her breathe on my cheek as she drifts off to sleep in my arms. I love the smile she freely gives me when I pick her up from the babysitter and that greets me when I open her bedroom door first thing in the morning. She brings my life more joy, more meaning and more purpose and I wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything in the world.
  3. Growth percentiles mean very little. I’ve worried, and cried, and lost sleep over Reagan’s growth (she’s an itty-bitty thing!) but overall, she’s growing at a consistent rate albeit fairly low on the growth chart. She is healthy and happy and strong – none of which can be fully determined by a chart tracking her weight and height.
  4. Postpartum depression is real. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please talk to your doctor. Postpartum affects about 13% of women for up to one year after giving birth.
  5. You will never be on time to anything ever – EVER – again. Refer back to first sentence of this post.
  6. It wasn’t love at first sight. I mean it was love but not like I imagined (Bravo if it was for you … really, I mean it!). For me, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with this cute but squishy-faced baby when they gave her to me. She was round and blonde and not at all what I expected. I loved her right away but it took a few days, weeks and even months before the parent/child bond really set in. And the cool thing is, it’s still growing. I love my child more every day.
  7. You can do it alone but parenting – and especially mothering – is better in community. I encourage you to find a MOPS group or a local mothers group to get involved in. Community is good for mom and baby!
  8. Sleep deprivation stinks. But feeding and rocking your baby during the night is pretty awesome (although most nights I would have traded it for more sleep).
  9. No matter how hard you try, you will never be perfect. And neither will your child. Sometimes I get frustrated – sometimes she gets frustrated. It’s bad when we both get frustrated, and sometimes I have to walk away. That’s okay. Soon my baby will understand my “I’m sorrys” and hopefully she’ll learn to ask forgiveness too, from the example I set.
  10. You are not a perfect mother, but you are the perfect mother for your child. God blessed me with this little girl – he gave her to me, and me to her, and no one else.

 

Hope After Loss

February 20, 2014

Sitting on the exam table for the ultrasound, J and I could see our precious babe: heart pounding, hands waving and legs kicking – a perfect little miracle. At 20 weeks we were hopeful that maybe this impromptu ultrasound would result in a gender reveal. But as the tech continued to move the wand she paused and asked us to wait while she called for the doctor. A person I had never met before – but who has since become precious to me – walked in. Dr. Abarca, one of six doctors in my OB/GYN practice, looked at the ultrasound and in silent agreement dismissed the tech from the room.

She calmly and compassionately explained that I was dilated to 4cm. She then put me in a wheelchair and pushed me across the parking lot to the hospital where they would attempt to keep me pregnant. However, as soon as they got me settled, my water broke.

Twelve hours later, Samuel Evan was born. Stillborn.

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I went home later that day to a quiet house and an empty womb. I would stare into the bathroom mirror with a hand on my abdomen and wish/beg/cry to feel my baby’s – my Samuel’s – movements. In the beginning I thought I would never be “normal” again. How could life go back to the way it had been before such a loss?

But hours turned into days and days to weeks, and slowly the pain numbed and I didn’t cry as much. Local friends brought meals, my Bible study girls, my co-workers and even my doctor’s office sent flowers, Facebook “friends” I didn’t know well or hadn’t seen in years sent cards. I felt so loved in the midst of my deep pain. {Check out my post on the Hello, Darling blog for ways to love on a hurting mom.}

You never “recover” from losing a child, but life does return to a new semblance of normal. God has graciously blessed us with another child {my sweet baby girl Reagan} who takes up much of my waking hours. But little things remind me of Samuel – a song on the radio, a holiday {we found out we were expecting him the day after Thanksgiving two years ago}, even fast food {which I craved during his pregnancy}. Although I can only hold one of my babies in my arms, my heart is full of love for each of my children.

*This article originally appeared in The Fridge Door, a weekly e-newsletter from MOPS International.

The day I caught the vomit … twice

January 5, 2014

The first time was at the lunch. Reagan is eating solids but has a tendency to stuff too much into her mouth at one time and choke herself. She had been given a few oyster crackers and, while I was talking to friends, she stuffed about 6 into her mouth and began to choke. As I started to pick her up out of the chair, she coughed up the culprits. As quickly as they came up, I put her back down and caught the mushy crackers in my hand.  I think I’m done with lunch.

The second time was right before bed. I think she just ate too much. Right after story time as we finished bedtime prayers, she spit the formula right back up … and right into my open hand.

But that really isn’t the point of this post. I really want to talk about decisions. Decisions we make as moms and dads; Decisions to jump forward with open hands to catch vomit, and decisions about working and childcare and heartstrings.

It’s been an emotional weekend in my house. Okay, it’s been an emotional weekend for me in my house. Our previous work schedule which allowed for Reagan to be home with James or me throughout the week worked well for a while but as she nears her first birthday, we knew something had to change. A choice had to be made – a parenting decision. And at this time, the best decision for our family is for me to increase my work hours {although still part-time} and return to working in the office two days a week while Little Miss goes to a friend’s house – an amazing, sweet mom who will care for Reagan as if she were her own. But that doesn’t change the fact that two days a week, Reagan will be away from Mommy and Daddy. And Mommy will be away from Reagan.

My sweet baby girl

My sweet baby girl

Tears caress my cheeks and dampen my spit-up-soiled blouse as I think about it. “It’s only for a season,” I tell myself and I know it’s true but I worry that Reagan will take her first steps or say her first real word while I am away. I enjoy working and I’m good at what I do, but I don’t know that it’s what I want to do right now. But for this season I am heading back to work and we will evaluate the next season in due time. If you see me in the office, be sure to say hello; and please ignore my puffy, red eyes and stained blouse.

Decisions we make as parents aren’t always easy {in fact, they rarely seem to be!}. What tough parenting decisions have you had to make or are you making now?

Mommy and Reagan’s First Road Trip

June 21, 2013

Before I was a mom {or wife even}, I determined to keep my independent spirit. When I would hear of moms who wouldn’t travel without their husbands, my skin would prickle just a bit. Fine for them, but not for me. Fast forward one husband and a 3-month-old daughter later and here was my turn to practice what I have long valued.

My husband only gets a few weeks’ vacation a year while I work part time and get 5 weeks off {plus he was just starting to earn back his PTO after taking time off for Reagan’s birth}, so taking off without him for a few days to visit my family seemed like a no-brainer. I would meet my parents at my grandmother’s house in Montana so I’d have plenty of help once I arrived.

It’s typically an 8-hour drive, so I estimated 10 with extra stops to feed and change Reagan. I was up early the morning of our departure but immediately felt ill.

Why am I doing this? Why isn’t James coming with us? This is Reagan’s first road trip, she needs him. I need him.

Thankfully, I have a great husband who continued to support me as I prepped to go.

“Is this a bad idea?” I asked.

“No,” assured me. Adding that he was proud of me and that we would have a great time on the trip.

As much as I wanted him to tell me to stay home in that moment, looking back I appreciate his support and belief in me. I wanted to give up and stay home, it would have been so much easier.

We were on the road by 7:15. I cried for the next hour, calling James on my cell every 20 minutes or so. I know, so much for my independent spirit! Once we hit the Wyoming border, I started to feel better. Maybe I could do this.  When we stopped for lunch in Douglas, I knew we could make it.

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I won’t say the trip was easy but thankfully, Reagan was a champ on the way out and only begin to really hate her car seat about 15 minutes from my Grandma’s house. We’ll save the story of the return trip for another post … one about patience, perhaps.

Our time with family was precious. Reagan was ooh’d and ahh’d over by her grandmother {Oma} and great-grandmother {Grandma-ma}, while my dad {Papa} assured her he would making her a bow and arrow soon {his new hobby}.

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What is quality you value in yourself? How do you feed it up in spite of life circumstances? Is it easy or difficult?