Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Preparing my Heart for Baby #2

I only briefly discussed my first miscarriage in an earlier post, and I am not sure I have ever mentioned my second.

I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant when Henry was around 18 months old, and I sort of freaked out. I cried. I felt guilty for crying, and then I cried some more. I couldn't stand the thought of Henry not being the baby anymore. I couldn't stand the thought of him feeling replaced. I was overwhelmed, and I wasn't sure what to do with those feelings. I held him as he fell asleep that night, cried ridiculous tears, and fought with myself about how I should feel.

A few weeks later, it was over.

The physical experience was much less traumatic than my first, but at the same time just as painful emotionally. I had immense guilt about all the feelings I had experienced when I found out I was pregnant. Fast forward a few months, and I also felt an even greater appreciation for this baby currently wiggling around in my belly.

When I found out I was pregnant with Henry I took a test the first morning I should have been able to get an accurate result. With this pregnancy I did the same, and I got my first ever negative test. I thought it was a bummer, but everyone has a negative test at some point, so I wasn't too concerned. A few days later I still hadn't started, and I allowed myself to wonder. I finally decided I would wait until Saturday, one week from the original test, to try again. Sure enough, I had apparently miscalculated and jumped the gun. The second test was positive.

I think I got a lot of the shock and fear and crazy out of my system with the previous pregnancy. I think the guilt I felt after losing that baby changed the way I viewed things, and I was better able to see this for the blessing it is. But that still didn't totally take away those mama thoughts and feelings and fears we often have. I remember one of the first nights after I found out...my husband was already in bed, and I stood in Henry's nursery in the dark (even though he was asleep in his bed in our room), and I cried. I don't mean I shed a silent tear and went to bed. I cried big, loud, snot-dripping-out-of-your-nose tears. I couldn't help but worry. I couldn't help but feel like I was taking something away from him. I felt like I might as well be putting him out in the yard to sleep even though he was tucked safely in his bed with the 37 stuffed animals he requires each night.

After that I started feeling really rotten. I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open all day long, and I felt like anything and everything was going to make me puke. I never did actually get "sick", but I felt like I was on the verge pretty much all the time. I lived on the couch and was totally worthless. I am not sure what my husband ate or how he even had clean clothes to wear because the biggest part of the first trimester was a blur. Because I felt so crummy, I didn't really think a lot about when baby would get here. I was simply focused on survival until about week 13 or 14.

As I have gotten farther along in the pregnancy things have become more real...as they usually do. We found out around week 18 that we are having another boy (I shared more about that here). Knowing the gender helps me to bond with the baby because it allows me to choose a name and imagine them as an individual. He has been super active, so I feel his kicks and wiggles almost constantly. I am putting together a nursery and buying clothes (since Henry's are all the wrong season). I can imagine holding him. I can imagine kissing his cheeks. I can imagine his presence so much better than I was able to with Henry since I am a tiny bit more seasoned than I was the first time. I have a lot less fear about the actual birth and the whole keeping-him-alive-thing than I did with Henry. I am excited to meet him and experience everything he will bring to our family.

All that being said, I still have my fears. I still have moments when I feel like I am doing Henry some huge disservice. A couple of weeks ago I had a moment where I actually got him from his bed at nap time, held him on the couch, and sobbed while he slept. I sobbed those big, ugly tears again because it wouldn't be just us anymore. All he has ever known is Henry and Mama. He is Mama's boy in a big way. I am able to give him my full attention and tend to his needs. We go on adventures. We have day dates. We play outside, share snacks, and snuggle on the couch before bed. How will he handle this? How will he adjust? He is so young, and he won't understand. He has never spent the night away from me. What if he cries for me when I am in the hospital? What if he is jealous? I think he will be jealous. I know he will miss me, and I most definitely will miss him. Every night when we are doing our bedtime routine, I can't help but think about how that will all look differently when baby brother arrives. I feel like I am basically ruining Henry's life, and I can't even decide how to feel about it all. I love him so fiercely, and I will never be able to

(Excuse me while I wipe the tears from my keyboard.)

Though that might sound a little dramatic, I have had those thoughts. I get a little dramatic in my head sometimes. Then one Sunday at church our pastor's wife came up to me, out of nowhere, and said, "You are giving Henry the best gift..a best friend for life."

Wow. I had never looked at it that way. I had worried and cried and stressed and thought of all the things I felt I would be taking away from Henry, but that was a total shift in perspective. I hadn't thought of what I would be giving him. That single statement meant so much to me, and it has helped me so much. I am eager for Henry to meet his baby brother. I am excited to watch them together as they play and get into mischief. I look forward to having two sweet boys to kiss and hug and love on me. I know it will be challenging and exhausting and wonderful all at the same time. While I cannot imagine loving another human being as much as I love Henry right now, I know it will happen. I know this baby will fit right into our family because he belongs.

I am so thankful for all the sweet, more experienced mamas who have encouraged me and reminded me that my heart WILL make room for baby. That is why I have asked a handful of mamas to share their hearts on going from one to two kiddos. In the next few days I will be sharing their insights and wisdom, and I am so excited to do so. I hope it will be an encouragement to those who are struggling with those sometimes irrational mama thoughts/fears like I have had. I hope that something they say might stick with you the way the "best friend" statement stuck with me. I know they have big hearts and lots of love for their littles, so I trust that they will have great things to share. Be sure to stay tuned, and please share with any mamas you might know who are going through the same worrisome phase that seems to come with baby #2.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Nursery Plans: Before

As I mentioned recently, I was totally MIA for months after finding out I was pregnant. When I am pregnant this crazy, maternal thing kicks in where I have tunnel vision on home and family. I don't want to do anything else. I can't be bothered with things because to my pregnant brain NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. Also, I felt pretty awful, tired, and nauseated, and anything that wasn't pure necessity slipped through the cracks.

There was a lot of slippage, people.

Luckily nesting hits me HARD, and I have kicked it into high gear. Now I am all about purging closets, cleaning under couches, touching up paint, writing blog posts, taking photos, revamping rooms that are perfectly fine as is, and, of course, planning a nursery.

For half a second the thought crossed my mind that I wouldn't decorate a nursery because I know he will not sleep in there for months (or if he is like Henry, years), and it isn't a necessity. I could clean that room out and make it into a functional office/guest room. I don't have to have a designer nursery to change his bottom and get him dressed in there...but then I laughed and got real with myself. Of course I am going to decorate a nursery. I LIVE for these kinds of opportunities. Shoot, I would decorate your nursery...or living room or master bedroom or mudroom if you wanted.

I can't get enough.

That being said, I also put off working on this room for quite some time. I had a rough vision of what I wanted no matter the gender, but I couldn't commit until I knew for sure. Even after we found out baby is a boy, I still struggled visualizing all the different ideas I had within one cohesive space in my head. Once I got past the holidays I realized how quickly the clock was ticking and knew I had to get my butt in gear. I had never made a digital mood board before (other than pinning on Pinterest) but gave it a go, and it was just the kick in the pants I needed.

(To download the plant artwork and others for free, click here.)

I must say I am kind of obsessed. This proved to me that all my plans would meld perfectly, if I would just clean the junk out of that room and get started. I sort of have commitment issues when it comes to rugs, but I went ahead and ordered the rug in the image as a jumping off point. It doesn't look like I have made a ton of progress, but this room was seriously packed to the max when I started. There were bird curtains on one window, piles of baby clothes, boxes for Goodwill, and basically anything else I didn't want to see in the rest of the house. This is actually a big improvement and what it currently looks like.

The good news is that all of the large pieces of furniture left in this room have a plan...I just have to get the mister to help me do some rearranging in other rooms. The ironing board and sewing table are temporary, and all the junk in the closet is either priced to sell, boxed up to give away, or it will find a new home in this room. I do have one pile of things that are most likely to say in this room as decor and several other items on my shopping list. Now to get moving...literally.

I got the curtains hemmed, ironed and hung, and some of the items on my immediate to-do list include:

  • patching the 500 holes in the walls
  • buying more paint and suckering someone into painting that large wall because it is a mess
  • clearing all the junk
  • cleaning the floors and baseboards 
  • finishing the dresser currently sitting in my garage
  • ordering a crib

I also think I might want to switch out the closet doors for sliding bypass "barn" doors, but I will need my dad to help me out with that one. I have a lot to do, but once I get going I know it will come together. I will definitely be posting an after when it is all complete. I can't wait!


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Patience, Mama

Someone once told me you should never pray for patience, or God will give you something to practice that patience on.

It isn't that I necessarily believe it, but I have to laugh at that statement because patience is not my strong suit. Waiting in traffic? Nope. Expecting an Amazon package? Two days is forever. My two-year old standing up in his high chair for the 475,000th time this week. FORGET ABOUT IT.

This has really been a test for me lately (the toddler part, not the amazon part...no more than usual anyway). Henry is two, and with that comes meltdowns, fits, tears, frustrations, defiance, and at least a hundred other difficult situations. Today he legit walked up to me and kicked me in the ankle. Twice. I have no idea why. He wasn't mad or upset. He was grinning and just kicked me in the ankle bone. Luckily this was not at 5:00 p.m. on an already difficult day, and I just had to remind myself that he is learning. It is my job to teach him what is right and what is wrong that you don't kick people.

I have recently had to remind myself of my responsibility to him so very many times. You see, I have a very strong-willed child. You know where he gets that? Yep. You guessed it. Right here. It is often a power struggle at our house as two stubborn people with communication difficulties battle it out on a daily basis. There were a couple of weeks where I really struggled. I mean I reeeeeally struggled. There was one week in particular where I thought I might lose my mind. There was one evening that I sat in the kitchen floor and cried while I let my husband battle the high chair and bath time fit. It was a rough week for me.

You know who else it was rough on? The toddler melting down in the high chair.

Some days are hard, but I have realized that those days aren't just hard for me. They are hard for him too. He is learning so much right now. His little brain is on overload, and he has so many wants and needs that he can't always communicate just yet. He doesn't always understand the things I am telling him. He doesn't get why sometimes he can have a cookie and other times I say 'no'. He doesn't always understand the fine line between tickling and 'wrestling' with daddy and getting a little too rough with mama. Sometimes I feel like I might finally be finding the right way to react. Other times he throws me a curve ball, and what worked yesterday comes right back to laugh in your face today...sometimes quite literally. But most days my rough-and-tumble, wild-and-crazy, super tough little boy just needs mama to chill out and talk to him. He needs me to be stern but keep my cool. He needs me to correct him in a calm but stern voice. He needs me to direct him but with love. And you know what I have learned from reacting both the harsh way and the calm way? In the end, the calm way is a lot easier on me as well.

Don't get me wrong. The quickest and easiest way to react most times is out of frustration. On those long days where I am about to lose it, and he just won't stop fussing/getting into things/head butting my leg while I cook dinner, staying calm is not my gut reaction. However, when I am calm for him, it is much easier to control myself and say less things I regret in tones that I can live with later. He is soaking in everything around him, and I don't want that to be a grumpy mama who snaps at every little thing.

I most definitely don't want to sound all holier-than-thou. I have had some super hard days lately. Actually last week was super tough after a really great stretch. I have snapped at him more times than I would like to admit, and I know it will happen again. At the end of a long day when he hits me in the nose with his head or fights me when I try to brush his teeth, I don't promise to stay cool and calm. I do promise that I will try to always remember the words I am typing now. You see, this post is more for myself than anyone else. I am not telling you how to react. You know your child, your relationship with your child, what works and doesn't work, and everything in between. But if you have been struggling lately, let this be an encouragement to you. Sure, I just asked you to remember that things are hard for them too as they navigate a lot of new feelings and emotions in a world where they sometimes struggle to communicate, but remember this also...YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It is okay to acknowledge it is hard, and it is okay to cry about it. It is okay to step away for an afternoon or even a weekend if that is what it takes.

I think it is an impossible balance, and we are all going to mess up at some point...or 50...million. You are human, mama. You are learning how to teach and guide this ever-changing and growing personality, and you will get it wrong sometimes. We all will. But a sweet friend once told me that babies are the best forgivers. Luckily, toddlers are pretty great at it too.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019


I love decorating, rearranging, and refreshing a room. While my house is not as clean and put-together as it once was (hello, motherhood), I still get a bit of a high from putting together a fresh, new space...even when I know it will be trashed in less than five minutes. I always like to redo and redecorate, but when I am nesting, it is a whole new level. I totally lose my mind. I feel like I can accomplish impossible things, and I drive my husband crazy until he helps make my dreams come true. Perfect example: Henry's mini room revamp.

One thing I have been stressing over lately is our sleeping situation. People are usually surprised to hear it, but Henry still sleeps in our room. He is in his own bed, but I have never transitioned him to his own room because all the other bedrooms are so far from our quite-large-with-plenty-of-room-for-a-crib master bedroom. I was never forced to kick him out, and I like having him close. He (finally) sleeps pretty well, and when he doesn't, he is just steps away. However, with the new baby coming, I knew it was time to move him into his own room. I also knew that I couldn't just stick his bed in there. It totally wasn't necessary or convenient, but for my own sake...and my hormonal, emotional mama heart...I knew a mini makeover would help me with the transition.

It is hard to want to refresh and redo frequently when you don't have infinite funds to toss at new decor. I am sometimes a tad envious of those who can just pick out what they like and go buy it at any given moment, but I also love the challenge of making a space my own with DIY projects, shopping my own stuff, and finding a good sale. That is exactly what I did for Henry's room.

I am not great with tutorials since my projects are usually made up on the fly during nap time with stuff I have laying around. It isn't likely that you will have the same supplies on hand, and you may not want to replicate my projects/style anyway.  However, I do want to break down how I put this new space together without breaking the bank by thinking outside of the box.

1. DIY

This is almost always my go-to. If I see something online that is out of my budget or something I think I could make and save some cash, I am all over it. I also use this strategy a lot because I am super impatient and don't want to wait for shipping or a trip to the store. When I wanted to get this gallery wall planned out during nap time one afternoon, I went to my Pinterest board I had been putting together for months. I looked at all the images to figure out what they had in common and what I liked about them. Some of those things were wood pieces, fabric banners, arrows, frames mixed with unconventional shaped items, and a combination of textures and finishes.

My next move was to my craft closet. An extra old dowel rod + some scrapbook paper = arrow. A piece of felt + some scrap fabric = cute banner. Leftover rope from another project + embroidery thread = fiber rainbow. I was seriously able to hustle and get all of these things completed during a single nap time with only things I had on hand. When you force yourself to get creative, whether for convenience, cost, the challenge of it, or because you are impatient like me, you can accomplish great things!

2. Free artwork and printables

I knew I wanted to include a picture of Henry's best buddy and cousin Georgie (see above), and I had one of those on hand. I added a mat to the triangle art she created for his room before he was born, and I wanted one more framed piece. I headed back to Pinterest for free printables, and there are so many options! I honestly am not sure I am in love with the piece I chose, but that is the beauty of a freebie. I can simply find another and replace it when I tire of the constellation piece. The clover piece (below) is still one of my favorites from when I first put his nursery together. I simply framed a four leaf clover my dad had found (he has always been the BEST at finding four leaf clovers) and had him sign it "Pa". So special, so simple, and so inexpensive!

3. Shop your stuff

So much of what I used in this space was already in my home. Some of it was already in the same room. Other things were pulled from keepsakes, closets, and Daddy's collection of vintage treasures. Once you have a vision and clear direction, look through your extra decor pieces, shelves that could spare a piece or two, or your stash of sentimental items and keepsakes.

The metal airplane, Victrola dog, and Hopalong Cassidy were all from my husband's collection of treasures over the years. The plants were pulled from overflow in other rooms. The rug was in my living room until we recently got a new one for that space. The little wooden camera was mine when I was a kid. The handmade stuffed dog was my dad's when he was a little. The Kodak film tin and bookend were just sitting around waiting for a home. For practical reasons, I would never have done this makeover if I had to buy all new decor pieces and start from scratch, but by shopping my own stuff I got a fresh new space without spending much of anything! You may not have as much junk laying around as I do, but you might just be surprised at what you already have that you can use.

4. Out with the old before you bring in the new

I am not going to pretend like I found every single bit of this stuff laying around my home. I did make a few purchases, but the difference with this room is that I made sure to get rid of some things before I allowed myself to buy more junk. I sold a few lamps I hadn't used in years and a couple of clothing items to offset the cost of the few things I purchased. For an entire room, the cost was low anyway, but keeping costs low on a project like this is sort of a hobby for me.

I should probably get out more.

Cost break down:
Paint  $16
Frame  $12
Brackets  $8
Gold Lamp  $24.99
Boys Only Sign  $24.99

After a trade for supplies and selling $50 worth of unwanted items, I spent roughly $20 on this whole thing. That is crazy cheap for a totally new look, and you can do it too! You just have to get inspired, get creative, and make it happen. And don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions about any other projects or pieces in this room.

I'll let you know how that sleeping transition to this cute new room goes...when I finally get tough and do it.


Master Bathroom: Painted Floor Project

When we moved into our current home there was a long list of things I wanted to change. The disgusting carpet, the yellow-beige walls, and t...