Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Emma Joy: One Year Old

Sweet Emma Joy, 

Oh, my heart. It's been a whole year since you joined our world. I can't believe it. These past few weeks, I've hardly been able to look at you without tears welling up in my eyes. Tears of joy as I watch you play or tears as I soak in the sleepy moments you rest your head on my chest. Sad tears that fall when I think about how quickly this year has gone by. Tears which I can only describe as my intense love for you just pouring out of me. 

I love to remember the day you were born. I can't wait to tell you all about it someday. I'll tell you how you were born 4 days after your due date and I was so incredibly anxious to meet you! I'll tell you about how you were facing the wrong way and were stuck, which meant you and I were working really hard for a long while to get you out into the world. I'll tell you how I pushed with all my might for more than 2 hours and how your daddy is one of the reasons I was able to do it. He was an incredible coach but seeing his reaction when he finally saw your head, it kept me going. I'm sure I will cry when I tell about this because I have never been prouder to be his wife than I was in that moment. I'll also tell you about how he fainted wayyyy before that when I got the epidural. It's such a sweet and funny story. I love reminiscing on those hours leading up to your arrival and the ones immediately after. You changed for the better in an instant and it's been joy after joy with you ever since.

Your photo this month sums you up pretty perfectly. You have a silly, fun-loving personality and you are so flexible, content and easygoing. I'm so glad we got these monthly photos of you. Some months were easier than others and it wasn't always easy to get you to cooperate, especially once you were on the move! You were a trooper every time though and I'm so glad I was able to capture each month and see how you've grown in such a special way. 

At your 1 year doctor appointment, you weighed in at 17 lbs, 11 oz and you're 29.5" tall...still a skinny girl but healthy as can be! 

I sure miss your newborn stage...holding you in my arms for hours as you slept, your sleepy stretches when you'd wake up, watching you take in your new world and get to know us, but this stage is so much fun with you! It seems like every day you discover something new and your personality is really coming out. You show daddy and I so much affection now and we have so much fun playing with you.

Speaking of daddy, you can't get enough of him. When he walks through the door every day, you can't get to him fast enough. When my phone rings during the day, since it's usually him, you get so incredibly excited and crawl over to me no matter what you're doing. It's so, so sweet.

In this last month, you've started saying 'dada' and 'mama.' You've also started doing this scrunched face, cheesy smile every now and then and we can't get enough of it! You love blueberries and you still love anything for dinner that involves chicken. You still don't like eggs but aren't too picky otherwise. 

You've been standing up on your own for a few weeks now and you're close to taking your first step! You still love climbing all over Abby (and she is so patient with you!), emptying out the kitchen cabinets and you love music now. You dance a lot now and it's the cutest thing ever. Your laugh is the sweetest and most infectious sound and you playing with mommy and daddy on our new bed.

Daddy and I just love being your parents. We have so much fun with you and we've loved watching you grow and seeing your joyful personality come out over the past year. I still can't resist kissing you nonstop and I try to soak up every sweet moment of you. Being your momma is the absolute best thing I've ever gotten to do in life and I can't believe it's already been a whole year!

Happy first birthday, Emma Joy! You are so incredibly loved and we are so blessed to be your parents.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Emma Joy: 11 Months Old

Sweet Emma, 

I keep thinking back to this time last year - how pregnant I was, how much we talked about what life would be like with you in it, how anxious I was to meet you. Now here we are just a month from your first birthday and I just can't believe it. 

This was a fun month! We celebrated daddy's birthday and your gift to him was your first piece of artwork. I stuck your hands in puddles of bright colors, set you in front of some paper and let you do your thing. You were a little unsure about the paint situation, but with a few smears across the paper, we created a happy and colorful gift for your sweet daddy. I'm pretty certain it's his favorite birthday gift ever and it's already hanging in a frame in our entryway. 

We also celebrated Father's Day and took a day trip to St. Augustine. We took you around to some of our favorite spots and had the most fun wandering around with you in tow. Mommy and daddy have been several times before and it was such a joy to be back as a family. 

You are becoming just a little bit mischievous at home getting into anything and everything. You are always trying to get your hands on Abby's food and water bowls, sneaking into mommy and daddy's room, crawling through Taylor's gate to get into the bathroom and I've found you playing with the toilet water a few times already. You're keeping us on our toes and when we're not chasing after you, you love to play with us. You love getting daddy to chase you and let out the happiest squeal when he's about to get you. 

You're still eating really well and love trying new foods. You pretty much want anything mommy is eating and you love sharing my acai or smoothie bowls. Your favorite foods lately are blueberry waffles and grapes. A few weeks ago, after looking for a good show for you, I found Goldie & Bear and I play that for you a lot while you're playing in the living room. You don't exactly sit through and watch each episode, but you loooove the theme song and you get so excited when it comes on. When you're in a fussy mood or super sleepy, you still rest your head on my chest when I sing to you. It never gets old. 

You are still in size 2 diapers and hanging out just over 17 lbs, about 28" tall. You're wearing mostly 9-12 tops, onesies and leggings, but you are still in 0-3/3-6 month shorts! You have 6 teeth still but I already see another one starting to come through. You don't love getting your teeth brushed every morning and night, but you put up with it really well most days. 

You're still such an easygoing, happy, flexible baby and it's such a gift watching you evolve and grow. We love you so much, Emma Joy!  

Friday, June 16, 2017

To the Woman Trying to Conceive

Making the decision to try for a child is huge and once you've made that decision, you may learn that just because you're ready, doesn't necessarily mean it's going to happen for you according to your timeline. You just might get pregnant that first month of trying but you also might have a long road ahead and perhaps even experience some major heartbreak along the way.

There aren't many things that make the up and downs of trying to conceive any easier, but I know through our journey, I appreciated having people I could relate to, people I could open up to without hearing the usual advice or judgment, people who could provide the kind of support I needed.

I have a few women in my life going through or have recently been through this and as I've spoken with them, I've really tried to stray away from saying the things that frustrated me when we were trying to conceive. The truth is, I don't have any helpful advice for any woman trying to get pregnant, no matter what they've experienced or how long they've been trying because I've been there. No advice in the world makes it easier to wait patiently for something you are so incredibly ready for.

With that being said, here's what I will say to the woman who is trying:

It's okay to not be okay. There is this weird pressure from society that comes with trying to get pregnant. Sharing any disappointment, impatience, frustration seems to be immediately shut down by anyone you're talking to about it. You get the usual responses basically telling you to stop stressing about it, to not overthink it, to stay positive and my least favorite, "Relax! You've only been trying for a few months." Just because today I'm feeling disappointed and frustrated, doesn't mean I'm stressing out or whining about it and I hated feeling like I wasn't allowed to just be sad some days. I started to feel like I was better off either not sharing at all, or saying something fake and overly positive to avoid the whole situation. The thing is, through our whole journey I never lost faith. I knew it would happen for us and I truly trusted God's timing, but that doesn't mean I didn't have days where I just felt sad, disappointed, frustrated. Don't feel like you can't have a bad day every now and then. Don't lose hope, but don't feel like you have to be okay all the time.

On that note, feel what you're feeling and don't apologize for it. I've been there. One day you're feeling at peace, hopeful, optimistic and the next you're discouraged, anxious and fearful that this is not going to happen for you. It's unrealistic to expect yourself to be positive all the time especially when you've just taken another pregnancy test only for it to be negative, again.

Stop comparing your journey. Maybe you've only been trying for 6 months and you feel discouraged but you talk yourself out of feeling sad because some women try for years or some women aren't able to get pregnant at all. Stop it. It's good to keep things in perspective because there is always someone who has it worse. Everyone's journey is different and yes, there is usually someone going through something worse than you but that doesn't make your current feelings any less valid. Break the habit of comparison now because there is no peace to be found there.

Be sad if you need to be sad, but find a way to be happy for others. I deleted this one, then added it back in because even typing it, I remember how much, much easier said than done this is. Especially these days with social media, it seems the same day you've had another negative pregnancy test is the same day all of your Facebook friends are announcing they're pregnant or posting photos of their adorable newborn baby. I'd be telling a big fat lie if I said that when we were trying, seeing these things didn't make my heart hurt a little bit. At the end of the day, though, being bitter toward someone else doesn't make your pain any less of a reality. Try to remove your personal pain from the situation and find a way to be happy for others and remember that these people have also tried, waited, prayed for this child and may have faced their own challenges along the way.

The last thing I would tell you is certainly the toughest truth to accept, in my opinion, but even if you feel like you are in control, just keep reminding yourself of this: you are not. This is a harsh reality and it was for us, too! Jonathan and I are planners by nature and when we decided we were ready for a baby, we expected it to happen easily because we were ready for it. I can't imagine many people go into TTC thinking it will be a difficult or long journey. With the apps and tools available to us these days, it's easy to feel like we've done everything correctly to make it happen and when it doesn't, we are confused, angry, frustrated. I constantly had to remind myself that God was in control and what was harder, was that I had to remind myself that it wasn't my job to understand His plan. I just had to trust Him. I failed at this a lot and I still do in some aspects, but I do think if you keep this in mind, it will give you strength and peace when you need it most.

Like I said, I don't have any groundbreaking advice to share with you and I know all too well that another piece of advice is the last thing you want to hear. I guess I just want you to know that you're not alone. You're not alone for feeling disappointed, frustrated, confused or impatient at any point on this journey. I want you to know you don't have to live up to anyone's expectations of how you should deal with whatever comes throughout the process. I also want you to know that as hard as it might seem to believe at times, God is faithful and you are stronger than you think you are. I also want to tell you that your day is coming and whatever you went through to get to that day will have prepared you for what's next.