Friday, June 20, 2014

10 Things I'll Miss About Having A Brand New Baby

Bright and early Monday morning, I walked into Nathan's room and found him like this:

5 seconds after I took this picture, I moved one very important chore to the top of my "To Do" list: Lowering his crib mattress. 

Dropping Nathan's mattress was a bittersweet moment to me, because it meant that my baby wasn't really a "baby" anymore. He's an infant. A Crawler. A Puller-Upper. An Almost-Walker. While that might seem trivial to some, it is painfully significant to me because to me, it feels like he's growing at warp speed. And I am NOT READY.

Maybe I'm borderline hyperventilating about all this because Nathan's my last baby, I'm really not sure. But I do know that after I finally wrestled and wrangled and got his mattress lowered (while in a room with three kids, a dog, and cradle full of 742 stuffed animals); I straightened up his nursery, put his blankets and toys away and started feeling super nostalgic. I'm not even ashamed to admit that my eyes got hot and my throat got tight and I may have cried a little because I realized in that moment that I will NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER HAVE A LITTLE NEWBORN BABY AGAIN. Whaaaaaaaah.

So, in a {hopefully} therapeutic effort, I've compliled for myself a list of 10 things I will dearly miss about having a little bitty newborn baby. And I'm gonna share it with y'all. Here they are:

  1. The 'I  Can't Believe I Just Had A Baby' Adrenaline Rush. Am I the only one who has a baby and then immediately feels like she could repaint the ceiling in her living room or pressure wash her entire house? Seriously though, that post-delivery high you get is RIDICULOUS. It's like, for a week or so after the baby is born, YOU COULD RULE THE WORLD. Sleep? Ha! Sleep is for the weak. Food? Ha! I'll just live off the 40 pounds of fat my body has recently stored around my newly spread child-birthin' hips. While it feels ah-mazing, you need to be prepared. Because that kind of rush is a dangerous thing. As high as you fly when you're leaving the hospital and passing on naps your Mom offers to give you while she's in town to help out and declining that decaf latte your friend offers to bring you, the low you'll crash into after the fire dies is nothing short of apocalyptic. Gone are the bursts of riduculous amounts of energy. In their place you find yourself gritty eyed and sleep deprived after 7 weeks of all night nursing marathons. You begin to eat cereal straight from the box, with your hands (that you may not have washed completely after the baby's last diaper change) because the extra time it'd take to pour it into a bowl with milk and eat it with a spoon takes just.too.much effort. You've stopped washing your hair, convincing yourself that you've jumped on the no 'poo bandwagon when in reality, it's because you've gone 4 entire days without a full body shower. And for me, nowadays, when just the thought of loading all three kids into the van and into their car seats to run an errand is enough to reduce me into a tired heap on my driveway, I think back on that adreneline rush. And I really wish I would've taken my Mom up on that nap...
  2. Tiny Pink Toes. Let's be honest- babies' tiny pink toes are one of the first things that you notice when they bring you your swaddled newborn after they're born. You hold that little wad of blanketed goodness, and then puuuullll that blanket open and count those precious piggies like they were the sweetest, most precious feet that have ever been born. Because they are. 
  3. Milk Drunkenness. Oh my mercy. Y'all- is there any better sight in all the world than a full, happy, content baby? Your newborn fills up their tank to positively bursting, lets out a long and satisfying burp and then just sort of melts into this relaxed position against you that could only be described as them being milk drunk. It is literally the most peaceful state you'll ever see anyone in. For example:
    (Name:Josie. {milk drunk} Age: 3 days.)
  4. The Kitten Cry. I realize this one is highly debatable. A few years before we had our own babies, my husband and I went to the hospital to visit some friends from church who had just had their first son. He was the sweetest, most precious little thing I had ever laid eyes on. We visited and snuggled and swaddled that little prince for about an hour or so. When we got onto the elevator to leave, I was still wrapped in a cloud of baby blue happiness. "Oh, he is just the sweetest thing I've ever seeeeen?!" I told Matt. "Couldn't you just EAT HIM UP? Even his little kitten cries were absolutely precious!" He did NOT agree. The little meowing wails and whimpers were not the musical melodies to his ears that they were to mine. I couldn't believe it. (Aside: Once our babies came around, he did adjust to the kitten cry quite nicely. Maybe because they were ours. I dunno.) There was a visiting family at our church last Sunday morning, and during the adult Bible Class, I could hear his little newborn coos and it hit me: Nathan doesn't sound like that anymore. I don't know when he stopped meowing and cooing, but he did. And I realized then how much I missed it. Newborn baby noises are the BEST. Colic cries and gassy screams are the WORST.
  5. Odorless Poop. Once you get past the black tar diapers, God gives you a few months of blissful, odorless poopy diaper changes. While the new baby dirty diapers are messy, (When did they eat seeds?) THEY DO NOT STINK. Considering how distasteful their stench is nowadays, I think it's a blessing that you're given three or four months of odorless messes to clean up before the real stench hits you once they start cereal and solid foods. Mercy.
  6. Dribbley Milk Grins. *If you are a man, (not that I think many men read my posts, but just in case) and you don't want to hear my glowing tales of nursing- this is your warning. DO NOT READ THIS PARAGRAPH. Skip on down to #6. You're welcome.* Y'all, when I say I dreamed about the glow of nursing my babies, I'm not exaggerating. I DREAMED ABOUT NURSING MY BABIES before they were born. That is how much I love it. Nathan's my last, and I will positively nurse him until the last possible second. I was talking with a friend of mine earlier this week about the heartbreak that's going to befall me when he weans, and she totally got it. She experienced the same heartbreak when her son (her last) weaned and I am refusing to even think about it now. For now, I'm going to continue to bask in the glow of his dribbley milk smiles and enjoy his sweet little snuggles. The dribbley milk grin is one of my favorite parts of nursing. There is literally nothing sweeter than when your baby pauses mid meal to look up and smile at you. They grin, and it turns themselves (and you) into a wet mess, but it is the BEST. I have been fortunate enough to have really good experiences breast feeding all three of my babies. I have gotten mastitis (a lot) while I've nursed each one of them, but I have to say, for me, even with the recurring infections and raw places and painful letdowns and clogged ducts and cement milk bags, it has been worth it. If you are a new mom and you're intimidated by the idea of nursing and need to talk to someone, ASK ME. Call me. Message me. Email me. Text me. Send a carrier pigeon. Just get in touch with me! When I was new to nursing, I would call my sister-in-love, Connie, at all hours of the night and day with random nursing questions. (I may or may not have asked her why it felt like my boobs were made of cement when my milk finally came in. Because I was just that clueless, bless my heart.) She was such a blessing to me, I'd love to be able to pass that blessing on to other new mom's. So gimme a holler if you need to, I am happy to help!  
  7. Finger Grasp Reflex. When you hold your baby for the first time and put your finger inside their palm and they instinctively grasp it. Mercy, y'all. If that doesn't tug at your heart strings check your pulse because you're probably dead. 
  8. Toothless Smiles. Babies spend so much of their first weeks crying and not sleeping and then crying some more, it can be enough to wear even the toughest, most seasoned Momma down. But then, magically, just when you need it- they start to smile. At first, you're not sure if it's gas or a reflex or an accident but one day, they hear your voice above them as you're changing their diaper and BAM! instant grin. It's precisely the balm your tired, tortured soul needs after weeks and weeks of screaming and crying and sleepless nights. Their smiles will still be fantastic once they cut those first little teeth, I know. But I know for me- it was a bittersweet day when I realized I'd never again see those naked pink gums grinning back up at me. 
  9. Swaddling. I'm convinced there's something scientifically significant about the positive affect holding a bundled up, burrito-ed baby has on a person. It is literally impossible to be angry when you're holding the human version of a soft taco. I'm sad to say my kids grew out of the swaddled stage preeeetty quickly, and I was so disappointed to see my little cocooned babies disappear. Before too long they were bustin' outta the wraps faster than I could fold them. Nathan'll still want me to swaddle just his body in a blanket every now and then (and I still try to swaddle his lanky frame out of sheer determinedness and unwillingness to let my last baby grow up) but it's becoming less and less of a bedtime necessity. I found him yesterday sleeping on his tummy with his little diapered tush poking up in the air like such a big boy. ::sigh:: I'm not ready.
  10. Johnson's and Johnson's Lotion I am a chronic over-lotioner. I'd use like 37 pumps of the dreamy, pink goodness that IS Johnson's Baby Lotion after every.single.bath I'd give my babies. Nathan's time was cut short with an eczema flare up, but I'll still sometimes rub some onto his feet and hands just so I can still catch a whiff of the baby goodness that comes in that bottle. That smell will forever been imprinted on my heart because it is the smell of a newborn baby to me. It tugs at my heart strings like nothing else. Mercy. 
Despite my sadness at the fast rate that it's happening, I am glad Nathan's growing up. I'm glad he's here and happy and healthy. And whole. We went through a tremendously stressful pregnancy with him, and I realize what a blessing that is that after all the tests and scans and worries, he is perfect. He's our last baby, the one we didn't ask for, the one we can't imagine living without. He is the perfect piece to our family puzzle. We wouldn't be complete without him. He was the gift we never knew we needed to ask for. I'm grateful God's plans are bigger than mine. Nathan is a testament to that. I love you so much, my little bonus baby. While you may not have been planned, but you have always been loved. Our cups runneth over because of you. 

If you are in the midst of a high risk pregnancy like we were, I'd like to share a verse that I clung to while we were traversing the endless doctor's appointments and ultrasounds and blood work and scans and tachycardia and trips to Labor and Delivery and almost C-sections. The entire chapter David wrote in Psalm 34 spoke to me, but verse 4 really touched my scared and tired soul: 
"I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears." 


What about YOU? I've given y'all my top ten list of things I'm gonna miss about having a new baby, what would be on yours?  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Eczema, Schmeggs-eczema.

Anyone who's ever met my youngest, Nathan, knows that he's a fair skinned fella. 
C'mon, y'all- Look at that skin. And the red hair! 
He's an Irish lad, for sure.
(Photo courtesty of Dusti Randall)

Along with being my lightest skinned offspring, he's also the only one of mine to suffer with eczema. Both Luke and Jo managed to get through their babydom years without any major skin conditions. They had some minor bouts of cradle cap and that whole post-delivery-skin-molting/baby acne thing that all newborns go through, but that was about it for the both of them. Nathan, however, wasn't so lucky.

I first really noticed his symptoms when he was about 6 months old. We had gone to visit my Mom for Easter and, when I was changing his diaper after a particularly long afternoon out in the south Louisiana heat, I noticed some red, scaly patches had flared up back behind his knees. I'd seen them a time or two before our trip, but hadn't really made the connection between them and eczema until that day. When I had noticed them before, though they were mainly just kinda dry places that I'd feel when I was greasing him up with my traditional 14 pumps of Johnson & Johnson's after his bath at night. (I'm a chronic over-lotioner. I can't help it.) 

So I'd noticed his dry patches before, but rubbing some coconut oil on them usually took care of them. I'd slather some on and forget about them. Like I said before, because neither of my other two chaps had eczema- I didn't really think much of it. When I saw them at my Mom's, though- they had changed. Gone were the tiny, dry white areas and in their place were large, red, flaky sploches that covered almost the back of his entire leg/knee fold area. Poor fella! 

I sent out a mass Facebook post asking for advice, and my friends immediately jumped in to help me out. I didn't realize until that day how many of my friends' kids had eczema/skin conditions. I got lots of good advice, as well as ideas about things that could trigger a flare up and different products that are avaliable to treat them. Hearing their stories, with both their successes and failures, is what prompted me to write this post. Because when you find something that works- you want the whole world to know about it! 

A friend of mine, Margo Baker of Happy Skin Soap, LLC, became the game changer in this whole eczema treatment battle I was in. She sent me an awesome box of goodies:
(Her packaging smelled awesome. Seriously. I'm not lying.)

Her oldest daughter's breakouts promtped her, after trying multiple prescription and OTC methods that didn't work, to try her hand at making her own soap instead.  Her daughter's breakouts were gone within a week. She found so much success (and fun!) in soap making that she started mixing up various soaps and potions for her friends and family. One thing led to another and before she knew it: BAM! She was a small business owner. She's got tons and tons of different products to try- even if you don't have sensitive skin. As soon as this post is finished, I plan on doing some more browsing on her website and Facebook page. (She's got a diaper cream that I am dying to schmear all over Nathan's tush.)  

After I perused through my goodie box, I immediately threw gently placed Nathan in the tub, anxious to try out all the things she'd sent me. Y'all. I was not disappointed. Her soap was incredibly mild, not terribly sudsy, and didn't seem to irritate his tender haunches. *I did keep it away from his eyes. I'm not 100% sure it's tearless. So use your best judgement, y'all.* But it even worked great in his hair- this kid's still rocking some cradle cap every now and again, even at 8 months old. Mercy, child. 

I was happy with the soap, but y'all, I had no idea what was awaiting me. Once I opened her jar of body cream the skies parted and angels sang. I'm not really sure how Margo does whatever voodoo magic she does in her body cream making business, but IT IS AWESOME. I know she infuses olive oil with lavender and chamomile, but beyond that, I'm not quite sure. (Maybe it's not fit for mere mortals to know.) 

It's literally perfection in a jar. It is a thick, whipped, delicious smelling tub of unicorns tears or Icelandic glacier water or drops of pure sunshine or something, I don't know what, but I know this: It cleared up Nathan's flare up in like 2 days flatIt's thick enough to cover nicely, (it's mega concentrated) but it still absorbs completely into their skin instead of rubbing off onto their clothes or blankets or towels or favorite stuffed animals or onto your two day old dirty Tshirt that you've still not changed out of at 7pm. I scoop some onto my fingertips, warm it up a little by rubbing them together, and then I focus on applying it to his trouble spots after every bath. And for Nathan, that means on his legs and arms. And boom, y'all- it's GONE.

I've been using her products on Nathan since Easter and y'all- he hasn't had a flare up since. While I'm still doing tons and tons and tons of research to try and find the root cause of Nathan's eczema flare ups, I am 100% relieved to know that I have found a line of products that I can trust to treat his skin when he flares up. If you or your little ones are suffering with eczema, I would strongly encourage you to check out Happy Skin Soap's line of baby products. They have worked wonderfully on sweet Nathan's skin and hopefully they'll help give your little one some relief, too! 

And, even if your skin isn't as sensitive as my sweet Nathan's- check out her page anyway. She's got a Citrus & Spice blend of soaps and sugar scrubs that sounds positively divine. I'm dying to try her Lavender & Lemongrass soap soon, too! (Doesn't that blend just sound like summer?!!)

Do any of your children suffer from eczema? Have you been able to pinpoint a cause? Was it a food allergy? Humidity? Seasons? Pollen? Dust? Perfume? 
Comment below and share any tips, tricks or suggestions if you have any. 

I'm all ears, y'all! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

30 Things

I turned thirty last week. 

My youngest, Nathan's face says it all. It was big doin's. 

It's not that I am opposed to aging. I get it. I'm getting older. I'm absolutely owning the first few dozens of gray hairs that I've recently discovered. They go along nicely with some crows feet and laugh lines that have started to appear in my bathroom mirror. That's not what's making me pause.  

It's the fact that, with the official arrival of my 30's, I feel as if- by some cosmic power or biological force- I should have "it" together. My life. My house. Myself. I should be over being self conscious about my body, clothes, and personal style. I shouldn't be worrying about things I have no control over like other people's opinions or actions. I should "get it" by now, shouldn't I? 

Life. Love. Happiness. Peace. It's like, when you think about life- about the passing of time and the journey that you travel down, your 30's are the years when you settle into yourself. You discover yourself in your 20's. You make peace with yourself in your 40's. But your 30's are the time when you curl comfortably into the person you've become. You light a candle, grab a cup of coffee, a comfy blanket, a good book and you settle down into yourself. Who you are. Who you've turned out to be. It's kinda freaking me out.

At least, that's what I want my 30's to be. I want to live this decade confidently knowing who I am. And, when I take this time to stop and settle and sigh into myself and maybe see something that I don't like- I AM GOING TO CHANGE IT. Because, y'all- I'm a grown up now. For real. I'm thirty years old. I can make choices and challenges and changes to make myself a better person. And I will

To help commemorate my 30th birthday, I've compiled a list of 30 facts about our lives that one day, I'd like the kids to know. These are things that I'd like to help give them a true glimpse of what I was like, what our lives were like, when they were only 3.75 and 2.5 and .75 years old. So- Luke, Josie, Nathan: This is what life for your mother was like in 2014. Be prepared.
  1. I like coffee. A lot. Since December of 2009, I have either been growing or feeding one of you with my body. What this means, is that for the past half a decade, I have had to limit myself to one cup of coffee a day. It's been a sacrifice. It's been a challenge. It's been a struggle. Once Nathan is weaned, I plan on buying a fancy espresso maker/milk steamer thing and I'm sure I will positively vibrate with the caffiene jitters for every day hence forth. Bring it on. 
  2. I used to read for fun. A lot. Then I had y'all and now I'm knee deep in about 17 different books about parenting and homeschooling and how to clean your house on a schedule. My home library has become remarkably lame. 
  3. I like my hot dogs grilled extra crispy with just mustard
  4. Sometimes I am so tired that I don't' know if I can make it through another day. How do y'all have so much stinkin' energy?!! (Seriously, though. How?)
  5. I feel guilty on the nights that I don't fix y'all a vegetable with our supper. But I give y'all an extra vitamin at bedtime and my guilt is *mostly* absolved. 
  6. There are secret nap snacks y'all don't know about. There, I said it. Blammo.
  7. I never used to worry about what came on television before y'all were born. Now, we've cancelled cable and restricted Netflix to 'G' rated shows only. I really hope y'all continue to love Curious George as much as y'all do now, because it's all I'm gonna let y'all watch for the next 15 years or so. 
  8. Y'all's triple naps are sometimes the only thing that gets me through the day. (See #4.) If y'all don't all settle down for at least 30 mintues consectuively, I wouldn't eat or brush my teeth at all that day. Motherhood brought out the grungy hobo in me.
  9. I skip pages sometimes in y'all's really, really long books. I've become a paraphrasing professional. But Luke's starting to catch on to me, so- bummer. But hooray for his reading comprehension! 
  10. I love that y'all love PB&J's for lunch everyday. It is literally the easiest thing in the world to fix and I'm confident that I could cut the crust off y'all's sandwiches in my sleep. (And I probably have.)
  11. I sometimes look forward to the day when I don't have to wipe all your faces and all your places all the times that they are dirty. 
  12. I donate/throw away your annoying and broken toys while y'all are sleeping. Sue me.
  13. I used to be really territorial about my food. But now, I don't know what I would do at a meal if I didn't have tiny fingers sneaking bites or rogue forkes diving into my plate or tiny people sitting in my lap eating my chicken because it tastes better than the identical cubed pieces that are on her plate. (I'm talking to you, Jo.) 
  14. I used to be on time. All the time. For everything. But now, I'm constantly running late for EVERYTHING. Y'all have taught me an important lesson about my attitude toward punctuality: I'd rather be 10 minutes late for church with a smiling face than be on time because I brow beat and bullied us out the door. I do everything I can to prepare as best I can in advance to help keep us on schedule, but if we're gonna be late- I've learned that my prodding and pushing and pestering doesn't get us out the door any faster, it just makes us cranky and cross and crabby when we arrive at our destination. It ain't worth it.
  15. Nail polish is one of my love languages. Polish doesn't give me a muffin top and makes me feel fancy and poised and put together. (Which, 87% of the time, I'm not.) An accent nail with a glitter top coat is my jam. I like to paint my nails every week, on Wednesday nights. I come home after church, throw y'all put y'all to bed for the night and treat myself to a fresh coat of fanciness courtesy of Sally Hansen.
  16. I take 20 extra minutes to feed Nathan at night just so I can look at his precious, squishy face and listen to his sweet, sleepy breathing and feel his warm, little body relax against mine as he falls asleep. During the day, you big kids are running around like hooligans and I'm putting out fires and cleaning up messes and I don't always feel like I get to spend that good, quality time with him while I feed him. (It's hard to soak in the moment when you're feeding a baby next to a toddler who is constantly trying to pull their toes or pat their heads or slap their backs when you burp them.) But, at the end of the day, when you big kids are in your beds, it's just the two of us. And I soak it in. 
  17. Sometimes I worry that there's not enough of me to go around. But then, y'all all climb into my lap and I realize I'm worrying about nothing. It is however, a little like trying to hold onto three wet cats in a rainstorm when y'all are all in my lap. Y'all are squirmy. And your elbows are SHARP.
  18. I love y'all. I love y'all more than coffee, but not always before coffee. (See #27, #28 and #1.)
  19. Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers is my all time, read-it-over-and-over-and-OVER again, most favorite book. Josie, I will buy it for you for your birthday one year. I promise. 
  20. I eat two boiled eggs for breakfast every day. Not because I love them, but because they're the only food that I can quickly inhale while standing at the counter while I'm trying to get the three of y'all fed. 
  21. That said, I eat lunch at like 2pm when y'all are sleeping because it's impossible to feed myself even a single bite while I'm feeding/supervising the three of y'all at the table. (See #6.) 
  22. I'm awful at remembering to write thank you notes. It's always to touching for me to receive something, and I want to be better about extending the feeling of gratitude to my gracious giver. In fact, I've got two "to compose" thank you notes on my list right now. Some lovely friends surprised me for my birthday with sweet gifts that I am splurging on fancy schmamcy nail polishes (#15) and a soup and sandwich supper with a good friend sometime soon. (Mom loves soup in a bread bowl, guys. LOVES IT. Panera Bread, here I come.)
  23. My favorite color: RED. No big surprise there. :)
  24. I don't wash my face every night. It's another goal that I'm setting for myself now that I'm 30: To take better care of my skin. So, I bought a ridiculously large red sun hat with some of my birthday money and I'm on the market for a new (cheapish?) line of skin care products. I've gotta start using more than just my old standby Oil of Olay pink jar of night cream.
    (This hat is huge, I know. And red! I kinda feel like a dork wearing it, but it really keeps the sun off my face and neck so I'm gonna keep on wearing it. So take that- melanoma!)
  25. My clothes are old. I've got plenty of hangers in my closet, but I only wear like 20% of them. Half are way too big, half are way too small. For the past 4.5 years I've been gaining and losing 40ish pounds between getting pregnant with the three of y'all. I've purchased maternity clothes, and gotten some really great hand me downs, but I haven't been 'clothes shopping' since before BP covered Pensacola Beach in tar balls back in 2010. Seriously. Your Dad and I drove down to the beach for maternity pictures literally two days before the oil arrived. I bought a new shirt for the pictures and that was about the last time I really went shopping for fun instead of out of desperation. 
  26. Another borderline obsession I have: Accent lighting. I love it- lamps, string lights, cute night lights. You name it. I've pinned about 342 different ways to decorate with white Christmas lights and one day, I'm going to do it. I'll string some rope lights to display Grammy's old milk glass collection. I will do it. Y'all watch. 
  27. When y'all are teenagers, I'm not going to feel badly for one minute about waking y'all up early. Because, right now, y'all get up waaaay too and I am gonna love to pay y'all back for it. 
  28. I wake up SUPER early.(See #27.) I roll outta bed about 2 hours before y'all because it's the only time during the day that the house is quiet and dark and peaceful and all mine. And, for me, if I don't give myself that time to read and think and pray and drink one cup of Community Dark Roast, I'm not a good wife to your Daddy or a good Momma to you. Everybody loses on those days. 
  29. Favorite movie: Pride and Prejudice. No question. I turn on my old DVD for nap time noise while y'all rest in the afternoons. I can literally quote it line for line now. A close second: Sabrina- both versions. Don't ask me to pick which one I like best, because they're both fantastic. If you ever need to butter me up for something- bring me both copies, a comfy blanket and snuggle next to me on the sofa for a few hours while we have a Sabrina movie marathon. When they're over, I'll be putty in your hands. Just sayin'.
  30. NEVER FORGET: I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my babies you'll be.