Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
-Robert Frost

I love this poem, and I always think about it this time of year.  It’s haunting and wistful and dreamy.  Some people say that Texas doesn’t have four seasons.  I think autumn here is just so fleeting that it’s easy to miss.  The temperatures do start to dip and the leaves do change to glorious shades of orange, red and gold.IMG_0329 copy  Everyone seems to walk with more vigor.  We’ve survived the long, hot summer, and the promise of the holiday season is in the air.  We start to cook with more cinnamon and nutmeg and smile at every pumpkin we pass.  It just lasts a few weeks and then fades discreetly into Christmastime.

This autumn’s had a different meaning to me as a new mom.  I love so much about being a parent thus far, but I have to say that one of my favorite aspects of this journey we’ve just begun is watching our son discover the world.  You always hear that they grow and change so rapidly, and that has certainly been confirmed by our experience.  When we left the hospital with our newborn the day before Easter, I tried to fathom the idea that this was Benjamin’s first time outside…ever.  He was breathing fresh air, seeing the sky (sort of), hearing birds and cows.  The wonder I see in his eyes, the complete trust…it just blows my mind.  In the span of two weeks he learned to sit up, started forming and repeating new sounds and tried solid food for the first time.  He rolls across the room in seconds, and each time we go somewhere new his eyes get big and his head darts around, scanning his surroundings.  He’s learning how to wave and chuckles when people engage with him.  He grabs absolutely everything he can reach.  He’s soaking in this great big world.  IMG_0404 copyThis time as the cooler temperatures hit and the leaves started to change, I thought about 2015 coming to an end.  2015, the year of Benjamin’s birth; it’s almost over.  Last year at this time, I was feeling him kick against my hand on my belly and dreaming of seeing him in footsie pajamas.  

Lately that Amy Grant song has been playing in my head, “Oh how the years go by…”  It’s romantic to mourn the loss of something while you still have it because you love it so much that you dread letting go.  But that’s not how I want to live when it comes to being a mom.  My little heart can’t take it.  I’m practicing gratitude to combat this feeling of loss.  It’s my motherhood mantra of sorts.  Instead of ugly crying when my son grew out of his newborn clothes, I tried to remember that some babies are sick and don’t grow.  I made myself focus on my gratitude for a healthy, growing boy.  This really helps me cope.  Please don’t hear me saying that any sadness over our babies growing up is bad.  Not at all.  A therapist once came to speak to one of my social work classes, and she said something that stuck with me.  How you feel is never wrong.  It’s good and healthy sometimes to let the sadness wash over us for a little while. But it would be easy for me to err on the side of being too brokenhearted.  When I look back on my life, I don’t want to feel as though I wasted my babies’ childhoods feeling sad that they couldn’t stay small longer.  We only get one shot at raising them.

This practice of changing my perspective and focusing on gratitude as my little boy grows from infant to baby to toddler and beyond…well, it’s helping my heart to stay peaceful.  It feels holy.  I’m able to do a better job of enjoying the positive things about the phase we’re in.  I know I have a lot of difficult and wonderful parenting experiences ahead, and I have SO much to learn.  So, right now I’ll enjoy the otherworldly beauty of his little face when he falls asleep in my arms.  And later I’ll be thankful for his ability to use words to tell me what’s bothering him so that we can work on a solution.  Someday, Lord willing, I’ll look up to my son, and I’ll take joy in that.  Autumn doesn’t last long and babies grow up fast, but there is always something else good to look forward to and plenty to give thanks for in the midst of change.  I’m clinging to that truth more than ever this year.  Nothing gold can stay.  Indeed.

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Six Months of Awesome

I’m having a hard time writing about motherhood.  It’s too much.  I feel all of the things (mostly intense joy).  Also, the “mom brain” phenomenon that I heard about has hit me hard, and I’m not my most articulate self lately.  I’m not so much with the words.  It’s sad, but I’m hopeful that it won’t be a permanent condition.

Our sweet boy turned six months old last Friday in the midst of two weeks of travel and hosting and babysitting, so now I sit down to write about this milestone…and I just…there are no words big enough to describe my thoughts on this subject.  Benjamin is feisty and social and hilarious.  He loves to snuggle but he also loves to move. He is as wild as his hair would suggest and as sweet as his smile would indicate.  He sleeps like a champ and eats as though he’s certain each feeding will be his last.  He’s very verbal and laughs a lot.  He is DETERMINED.  He has a wide range of dramatic facial expressions.  He loves to grab everything in sight (his favorite is having two fistfuls of someone’s hair).  He fights naps because he doesn’t want to miss anything.  He loves music and the great outdoors.  His eyes light up when he’s in a new place or has a new experience (most recently starting solid foods).

He has the ability to completely wear us out, but he has brought us more joy than we ever could have imagined.  Benjamin has taught us so much about our Creator.  Bryan and I are so thankful for this beautiful, vivacious boy and humbled that God chose us to be his parents.  And since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few that express the past six months a bit better than I can…

*Note:  The pictures on the striped rug are his monthly pictures, starting with 1 month old.

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Ben’s Nursery

We bought our first house when I was seven months pregnant.  I don’t necessarily recommend this, but with our lease ending March 31st and the baby’s due date at April 2nd, it was the best choice for us.  I’m so thankful that we were able to move in and make it feel like home before Ben was born.  Getting his nursery ready was so much fun, and I mentioned awhile ago that I would share some pictures.  So, here is a little tour…

I’m not a huge theme person, but I started sort of jokingly referring to this as “global baby chic”.  We have a lot of different colors, too.  There are touches of navy and lighter gray/blue, and I love the rug with green, orange, brown, robin’s egg blue and tan.  I wanted his nursery to feel cozy and colorful—a place where he can rest well and play hard and let his imagination run wild.

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It’s really special to me that we are using the crib my dad built when my parents were expecting me.  My two younger siblings used it, too.  We decided that my dad would paint the top part white to modernize it for the next generation.  It’s got tons of storage, and it’s just so beautiful.  Ben has been sleeping very well in the crib for about two months.  We have several cute fitted sheets with animals in lieu of a full crib set.  This one is my favorite.

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We also have this little rocker that was mine.  My hope is that this will become a favorite reading spot for Ben when he’s a bit older.

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I got this little bookshelf for my tiny garage apartment when I was in grad school.  I’m not sure if Target still carries it, but I might like to get one or two more.  I love to see it full of children’s books now!  We have some in English and Spanish.

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The dresser was the last item purchased.  We went to several secondhand and discount places but didn’t have any luck, and so we found ourselves making the trek to IKEA when I was basically ready to give birth at any moment.  This ended up being just the right size.  Worth it.

My sister, the artist, painted this beautiful mirror for Ben.  He loves to look at it while we’re changing him.  His eyes get really big.  🙂

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We got a glider and decided that we’d rather use it in the living room.

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I have included links below if you’re interested.  Thanks for coming on the tour, friends!

*Please note that, in addition to reused or homemade pieces, we used gift cards and bought discontinued and sale items, etc.  I don’t think we paid full price for anything.

Dresser: IKEA

Window hanging (similar):  World Market

Spanish prints:  Etsy

Crib: Made by Dad circa 1984

Bookshelf:  Target

Rocker:  Passed down from me

Lamp:  World Market (discontinued)

Laundry hamper:  Target

Glider:  (similar) Buy Buy Baby

Rug:  (similar) World Market

Painted Mirror:  Made by Aunt Katie

Ben’s Birth Story: The Finale

Here is the conclusion of Ben’s birth story!  If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me.  🙂

At first, I thought the nurse who was with us during this time was less friendly than the others had been.  Then I realized that she was just focused and serious because she needed to be prepared for anything to happen.  This was the main event.  I pushed for about 40 minutes, with Bryan, the nurse and (toward the end) my awesome OB encouraging me.  It really didn’t feel like a long time, and I was concentrating hard on making as much progress as possible with each push.  I was SO ready to meet my boy!  I remember being surprised that for much of this time it was just me, Bryan and our nurse in the room.  It felt quiet and less dramatic than I imagined it would be.  We also thought they would have Bryan put on scrubs.  Apparently, that’s only for C-sections.  I could tell when the baby was close to being born by the increasing pressure and the rising level of excitement in the room.

My heart was beating fast, and a wave of emotion swept over me as I took in the reality of the moment.  “Look down,” my doctor said.  And just like that, she held him up.  I couldn’t breathe.  It was so surreal.  She placed this tiny, beautiful boy on my chest and time stood still.  It was love at first sight.  I don’t remember the OB showing Bryan where to cut the cord because I couldn’t take my eyes off of my baby’s sweet face.  I did a weird laugh/cry kind of thing and looked at Bryan.  His eyes were as big as his smile.  They took Ben over to give him his first bath and do the tests and measurements.  He was fussing a little bit, which was a beautiful sound for us.  When I heard his weight, I couldn’t believe it.  He was not the big baby I was expecting.  Everything looked good.  Praise God!  Bryan told me that he wanted to go out and tell our family, but he wouldn’t announce the name.  He would let me do that.  He came back quickly, and awhile later we were settled in our postpartum room.

Everyone came in walking gingerly and speaking in hushed, reverent tones.  I loved watching the awe on their faces–all these people who have loved me so well for my whole life.  Now, we were making them grandparents, aunts, uncles, great grandparents, great aunts and uncles and whatever you call your cousins’ relationship to your kids.  They gathered around the bed as I introduced him by name for the first time.  I’ve always loved the name Benjamin, and Benjamin in the Bible was beloved.  The apostle Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin.  Our son’s middle name is Walter after my Pawpaw.  I hope I never forget the look on my Dad’s face when he heard that.  The cozy hospital room radiated with joy.  Just as everyone started to pass Ben around, I saw someone outside the doorway in my peripheral vision.  It was the nurse who helped me deliver Ben, and she was smiling.  She didn’t come in, and I don’t think she saw me notice her there, but I’m so glad she got to see our family celebrating this little life she helped me bring into the world.

It was difficult to choose which pictures to share here, but I’ve included a few of those first few days with our little Easter baby.

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Thank you for sharing in our joy!

Ben’s Birth Story Continued

When they wheeled me off the elevator on the Labor and Delivery floor, I started having a contraction.  I was holding my stomach with one hand and gripping the wheelchair with the other while taking short, fast breaths.  I remember thinking that it felt like how labor is always depicted in the movies.  We wheeled past the nurse who had checked me that morning.  Bryan told me later that she expressed her disappointment as we were passing that her shift was ending right as we arrived.  Very sweet.  We really felt the whole time like the nurses taking care of us loved their jobs.  Their attitudes had a positive impact on our experience, and I was so grateful for each of them.  They got us settled in the room and hooked me up to IV antibiotics because I had tested positive for strep B (not a big deal, apparently, but they want you to have antibiotics to protect the baby as a precaution).

My parents and sister arrived, and we all sat around in the room chatting.  We were excited that the wait was almost over, and I felt so much love and support from everyone.  Our nurse told Bryan that she noticed I was tensing up my shoulders during contractions and encouraged him to help me relax those muscles while I breathed.  I tried to focus on relaxing my muscles, and the contractions continued steadily about 4 minutes apart.  About 3am, I decided to go for a walk with Bryan and my IV pole.  I knew I would probably want an epidural at some point, and I wanted to be mobile while I still could.  We made two laps around the L&D floor, and the intensity of the contractions really kicked up.  I was HURTING!  At this point I had been laboring for more than twelve hours with no pain relief.  I decided I was ready for the epidural.

Our family left the room, and the nurse anesthitist was there within 10 or 15 minutes.  I remembered what to expect from our “prepared childbirth” class, and that helped me to be mentally at ease during the process.  Everything went smoothly and the three parents and my sister came back in.  I was dilated to a 5 or 6 by then.  They decided to go get some sleep at our house since it was close to the hospital.  Bryan and I tried to rest.  The epidural started wearing off on my right side around 10am, so they gave me more medicine.  Suddenly, it was like my body realized how exhausted it was after weeks of not sleeping well, carrying around this huge belly, and then 12+ hours of labor.  I got more relaxed than I’d been since…well, before I was pregnant, probably, and fell into a deep, deep sleep.  It was indescribably glorious.  My friend Julie told me that she experienced something similar, which made me feel less crazy, because, really—what a weird time for a great nap.

At some point, my doctor came in to check me and broke my water.  Bryan told me that our family was back and hanging out in the waiting room area.  My brother was on his way.  It worked out well that the next day was Good Friday, so he would have left that day to come home from college for Easter anyway. The waiting room crew  :)

The waiting room crew had grown by the afternoon.

The next thing I remember is hearing the nurse call my OB and seeing someone wheel an incubator into the room.  They were getting ready.  It was about to be go time!  “I must wake up and give birth!” I thought.

Bryan snapped this picture while I was using the phone screen as a mirror—getting the hair up and getting focused.  Here we go!

Bryan snapped this picture while I was using the phone screen as a mirror—getting the hair up and getting focused. Here we go!

 

Apparently this is going to be a three parter.  🙂