Trienta: It’s More Fun Than Thirty

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This past weekend, I made the big plunge in to my 30’s. Besides walking around the house shouting “It’s my birthday week!” (sorry, babe), I really didn’t know how to handle the whole thing. Frankly, having children cemented adulthood into my brain far more than the number 30 ever could. But, it’s still a big milestone, so you’re supposed to go wheels off celebrating, right?

Randal did a wonderful job planning an overnight date in downtown Fort Worth, where we actually were able to talk and laugh. I even let him beat me in a round of pool. But, on Sunday he gave me the chance to have another awesome date: a mommy-daughter date. Actually, a better description would be a Rachel-Lillian date, because I did everything in my power to throw my mom caution to the wind and embrace some fun. And, if there’s one thing that Lillian is excellent at, it is having fun.

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We shopped (for spices), rode a miniature train, ate popcorn, ate ice cream, had “coffee,” and played at a log cabin village. But, more than that, we shared laughs. Lots and lots of laughs. I already knew that my child was pretty funny, as I spend most of my waking hours with her. But, for this sweet afternoon, I was able trade the rule-enforcing-mommy hat for the friendship hat and really was able enjoy her sweet, not-so-little personality. And she shined the entire time.

I got so much out of these precious five hours together, but my biggest takeaway was this: sometimes you need a break from motherhood, but not from your children. I love my Lillian dates, and I hope I get to have many more. She is seriously the best, y’all.

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Happy Birthday, Lillian!

Lillian,

I blinked and here you are—two years old! This year has flown by so quickly. And, I’m not quite ready to admit that you aren’t a baby anymore.

Right now, here are a few things that make you so uniquely you:

  1. Your confidence skyrockets when you put on your princess tutu.SAMSUNG CSC
  2. You love to pray (or “pay,” as you like to call it). I hope this never changes.
  3. You like to share. And, you hate it. Welcome to the human struggle.
  4. You are one of the most empathetic human beings I’ve ever met. Watching this develop in you makes my heart sing. And, when you ask me “What’s wrong?” and give me a hug, my heart melts. I wish I could take credit for this, but it’s really just the sweet spirit God gave you.
  5. You LOOOOOOOVE sparkles, princesses, and all things girly. But, you also love cars, trains and planes.IMG_2701
  6. You love the outdoors.FullSizeRender
  7. You are so curious. In fact, currently, two of your favorite characters—Alice (in Wonderland) and Curious George—are all about curiosity and adventure.FullSizeRender_1 (1)
  8. You still like to rock before bedtime. This is our special time together, and I will milk it as long as possible.
  9. You sleep through the night….FINALLY!!
  10. You love coffee. And you steal it from me any chance you get.  IMG_2238
  11. You are Mommy’s girl in the morning and Daddy’s girl at night. But, you would trade us both for Uncle Nathan or Aunt Hannah on a dime.
  12. When you want something, you tell me in question form, followed by “mmm-hmm.” For instance, “Watch show? Mmm-hmm.” Or “Cake? Mmm-hmm.”
  13. You are such a sweet big sister, and you love your little brother. You like to help me change him, and I’m surprised at how good of a little helper you can actually be. But, when you are ready for some Mommy-Lilly time, you quietly ask me to go put him in his swing.FullSizeRender_1
  14. You know SO MANY words, and you can use them surprisingly well. You know to say “you’re welcome” after “thank you,” and “sorry” when you’ve accidentally (or not so accidentally) done something wrong. You also know that “stairs” are “steep”, “babies” are “cute”, “friends” are “fun,” and it’s “good” to be “nice” and bad to be “mean.” Add in the animals you know and you’ve still only reached the tip of your vocabulary iceberg.
  15. You love to “go.” Which, who can blame you? Staying in the house can be suffocating. I don’t know where you got this character trait from 😉
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  16. You love all your aunts and grandparents (and even a few uncles, even though men aren’t exactly your favorite people right now). And, I love seeing you develop a special, unique relationship with all of them.
  17. You weasel your way into ice cream any chance you get.   IMG_2911
  18. You think that my phone only calls/face times Grammy. If I’m talking on the phone, it must be Grammy. However, your toy phone can call Grammy, Kimmy, Hannah, Nathan, Maddie and Marcus. It must be a newer model than mine.IMG_1791
  19. You finally eat more than cheese! Like rice, Chick-fil-a, chocolate, cake, Annie’s bunnies, goldfish, cereal, waffles, and biscuits! We are still working on vegetables. One day you won’t pick everything green off you’re plate.10689626_10152671438156609_514145815159967880_n
  20. You love books, especially miniature ones.IMG_4717
  21. In fact, you like miniature everything. You especially love your miniature Barbie teacups.
  22. You love bubbles! Both blowing them and in the bath.FullSizeRender (1)
  23. You love puppies. But, no, you can’t have another one.
  24. Besides being fantastically cute, your eyes are incredibly beautiful.

I know that you won’t always want to wear your tutu or be rocked to sleep. In fact, some day you’ll stop constantly crying “momma,” and you’ll even want to go off and leave me. But, one thing that I pray never changes is your sweet, yet bold, personality. And, I wish for always that you could see yourself through my eyes.

Happy birthday, my tiny, wonderful princess!! Mommy loves you! Also, a whole slew of other people love you, too.

Old and New: Abbreviated Birth Stories

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I dare you to find anything more calming than a newborn snuggling up to you. I’m convinced that it’s not possible. Our newest little addition of calming joy was born at 10:08pm, weighing a perfect 8lbs, 12oz (1oz shy of being a whole pound bigger than his sister was), and I am so thankful.

Lillian and Lucas’s birth stories are quite different, and, like any new mother, I’ve heard many opinions-posed-as-questions on both deliveries.

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Lillian. Please keep in mind that I am writing this story almost 2 years after the fact, and some of the details are a little fuzzy. With Lillian, we chose a doctor who delivered at Baylor All Saints and who has an outstanding reputation. I hate to admit that my favorite thing about our doctor was her wit; but, I also completely trusted her and felt she was committed to getting the baby here in the safest way possible. We set a date to induce Lillian: February 17th, 2013. Randal was about to take the bar exam, and we wanted to give him a chance to spend time with Lillian and not have to worry that I was going into labor during the exam. We chose this date rather than February 16th because it would give me one last chance to mark some items off my to do list.

Of course, my daughter started having a mind of her own at a very young age. I started going into labor on the evening of February 15th, and Randal and I left for the hospital around 10:00PM. I was convinced that it was false labor because the contractions didn’t quite hurt like I thought they should, but we took our bags just in case. And, good thing we did! We were admitted to the hospital, and I was given the impossible task of trying to sleep in the delivery room. My blood pressure kept spiking throughout the night and the morning, which I equate to being scared of what was ahead. The constant beeping of the blood pressure monitor didn’t help either.

Family started gathering in the delivery room the next morning (at some point they thought it was a good idea to eat tacos—from my favorite taco place—in front of me…but that’s another story). The great thing about having family in the delivery room prior to delivery is that they all get to be in on the experience. The bad thing about having them there is that you feel as if you constantly need to be entertaining them. Being on your back basically naked while in some amount of pain does not lend itself to entertaining. Or, maybe it does for some people.

At 10:00 AM the following morning, I still hadn’t progressed much, and we made the decision to let the doctor break my water. At noonish, I STILL hadn’t progressed much, so we started pitocin. Pitocin pain is sent straight from the devil himself, so it was not much longer before I decided that an epidural was in order. The anesthesiologist who delivered my epidural was amazing. There were no complications (ie, they only had to do it once and after wiggling around in bed a little bit, it worked on both sides).

A common misconception (at least I misconceived it beforehand) about an epidural is that you won’t feel anything. I definitely still felt pressure (but no pain!), and I knew exactly when it was time to push. Well, at first I thought it might be time to push. Then I KNEW it was time to push.

The only time I cried during labor was right before I began pushing. I think it was the first time my “maternal instinct” started to kick in. The delivery went off without a hitch. My doctor was very encouraging, and got Lillian here safely and in one piece! She was born at 4:31pm, weighing 7lbs, 13oz and was 21 inches of perfection.

Then came recovery. Ugh. Recovery. Recovery is what no one warns you about, and it hits you like a ton of bricks. But, Baylor All Saints had amazing recovery staff and rooms, even if the food was terrible (really, really terrible).

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Lucas. For multiple reasons (NONE of which included the quality of care I received from my doctor with Lillian), we decided to use the UNT Midwives for Lucas’s delivery. This meant that I had to prepare myself for delivering in a different hospital and for delivering “naturally.” As an aside, I could probably write a post in great length about why I hate the word “natural” to describe this style of birth. But, I will not step on to my soapbox about that now.

I thought that Lucas was never going to grace us with his presence. Because Lillian was 6 days early, I mentally prepared myself for Lucas to arrive around 38 weeks. On December 17th (39 weeks, 3 days, but who was counting?), after raking 3 trashcans full of leaves I thought my water broke. So, I called Randal home from work and we headed to the hospital. This time I was convinced we were staying, so I made sure we had everything.

When we got to the hospital, we were told that my water hadn’t broken (embarrassing), and they sent me on my merry little way. Before we got back home, the contractions started and they felt less than amazing. We stayed at home long enough for me to sit on the couch and give Lillian another hug, then we headed straight back to the hospital for a second time. By the time we got to the hospital, I could hardly talk through the contractions.

When I walked into the delivery room, I felt like I was walking in to a final exam completely unprepared. I was armed with a whole two pages from The Bradley Method book and not much else. I was slightly embarrassed and overwhelmed as the nurse started asking me about my birth plan. Did I want to labor in the tub? Sure, why not? Did it come with a beer (just kidding)? Did I want to deliver in the tub? Did I want to shower? Use the ball? Walk the halls? Umm…walking was out by this point. What did I want to wear? Skin to skin afterwards? Obviously. I wouldn’t want to deprive myself, er, I mean, my child, of that.

The midwife who was on call for my delivery was one of my favorite midwives from the UNT group. And, after admitting that I had completely failed to study up for this whole thing, she coolly and calmly walked me through all of my options. And, she helped me start breathing. Apparently you shouldn’t stop breathing during every contraction.

After getting situated in the tub with my water and grape juice (that I was pretending was a wine cooler) and sending off Randal to get the bags from the car (it seems like we were certainly staying this time), I sent my very last text message around 7pm or so. I didn’t much care to talk/text/social media-ize after that point.

I labored in the tub for about an hour and a half or so, and I remember looking up at the clock every few contractions and trying to figure out how much longer I had to go. Actually, I don’t remember talking very much during labor, but I do remember trying to get the nurse and midwife to guestimate when everything would go down. The only answer I really got was “it won’t be too long.”

After I labored in the tub, I curled up in the fetal position on the bed. This is when I had the only visitor besides Randal in the delivery room—my mother. She was there for about 1 minute (maybe 30 seconds or maybe an hour, who really knows). I don’t remember too terribly much about labor except that it was very painful and I didn’t talk (even when I wanted to, I couldn’t). But, I guess that’s a good thing. I don’t very much like remembering pain.

They say that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, which is why I assume that I only had to push for 5 minutes. For women who push for over an hour, I have MAD respect for you. Lucas arrived with zero complications, and the pain was over as soon as he was brought to my chest (well, most of it anyways). He was absolutely perfect.

Then came recovery. Ugh. Recovery. Recovery was (is still) completely different this time than last time. But, it’s still horrible. I don’t think there is a way to make recovery fun.

Both of my deliveries were absolutely perfect in their own right. Both deliveries went smoothly and resulted in beautiful, healthy children, and as an added bonus, my body wasn’t fully damaged in the process. BOTH styles of delivery had their pros and cons, which I would love to discuss (but don’t want to hail over the pages of the internet). However, if I could give just one piece of advice to any soon-to-be new mom, it would be to choose a practitioner who you can trust and choose the delivery you are most comfortable with. It’s the start to your story of motherhood, and frankly, other people’s opinions on the subject don’t much matter. Plus, you get 18 more years to screw this whole parenting thing up 😉

I Just Can’t Be Fat Anymore

Lillian has entered full mimic mode. She sees me brushing my teeth, so she has to do the same (with MY toothbrush, of course, as her smaller one is CLEARLY inferior). She watches me put on my makeup, then immediately picks up a brush, dabs in on a closed eye shadow container, then wipes it all over her face. She hears me sigh loudly in exasperation. She throws back her head and does the same.

I know that her imitations—however adorable they may be—won’t always be limited to mimicking everyday occurrences. Instead, she will soon start to mimic the way I react and feel about certain things, especially my body, and in turn, her body.

That is why I have decided that I just can’t be fat anymore.  Or, at least, I can’t see myself that way.

I spent years battling a distorted body image. Many people got/get this confused to mean that I was disgusted by anyone my size or larger. In fact, it could very well be the opposite. For instance, while I was tucked neatly in my size 0 or 2s, I would look at someone wearing a size 6, and wonder how I could cut calories in order to be as skinny as her. The thing about having a distorted image is that you see something in the mirror that isn’t there.

And, let’s be honest, as women, we haven’t really helped each other out in this arena. In conversation, right after the gossip and right before the latest Pinterest trend, is squished the conversation-filling topic of how fat we are. About how we are cutting down to 1200 calories until these last 5 pounds come off. About our two-hour gym stint. About how we just HATE being this fat. About how we would do ANYTHING to be skinnier.  I’m as guilty of these conversations as anyone. And, my competitive nature makes me want to one-up people in how badly I can hate me fat stomach/butt/thighs/etc. Which I’m pretty sure takes sickness to a whole new level.

I would love to give you the sappy monologue about how I see my body as this incredible life-giving vessel. I mean, it’s pretty cool that life grew in there, and I could use my body to feed that same tiny human after it got here, but, in truth, my body is still squishy in parts that I’m not sure will ever go back.

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But, I see my precious baby girl checking herself out in the mirror in her new dress and giggle, and I think that I just can’t do it to her. I can’t set her up for years of painful self-hatred.

This is not to say that I won’t promote a healthy lifestyle. I will. It is so important to take care of the one body you are given on this earth. But, what I refuse to do is look in the mirror and hate myself. I refuse to obsess over rolls that may or may not be there. I refuse to cry (as I HAVE before) when I notice cellulite. I refuse to do these things because I want my child to look and the mirror and see how beautiful she REALLY is.

Helpful Self-Help

I don’t really like self-help books. Let me rearrange that sentence. I REALLY don’t like self-help books. Most of the time, they are filled with superficial fluff, and serve you only slightly better than watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (my guilty pleasure). And, when they aren’t as shallow as kiddie pool, they seem to tee you up to feel like an epic failure. Notwithstanding my feelings on self-help books, I finally found one that I feel obliged to share.

When we first got married, someone gave me a copy of The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. Of course, in my true self-help hating fashion, I put it away in Randal’s shed with the rest of the books that didn’t quite make the cut to fill precious bookshelf space (I own a lot of books). I stumbled upon this book when cleaning out part of the shed. And, in a moment when our marriage seemed to be filled with a little less than sunshine, butterflies, and puppies, I curiously opened it up.

This book is great for a few reasons. First, you only have to read 2-3 pages per day. Second, the 2-3 pages are actually filled with substance that makes you think a little deeper. Third, each day comes with a non-cheesy “dare” that makes you apply what you’ve read. The first three dares included refraining from saying anything negative to your spouse. That’s 72 hours of not complaining and not pointing out any flaws. And, since I am obviously 100% perfection all the time, he needs me to point out these flaws, right?! How else would he know what he needs to fix?

And, I have to admit, it was somehow a very hard and very easy 72 hours. It was hard because it made me consciously think about what was coming out of my mouth. And, let’s face it, even for relatively quiet females (like myself), it’s easy just to talk for the sake of talking. However, it was amazing how easily the void of small nit-picky comments were filled with actual, deep conversation. And jokes. I love to tell silly jokes.

One thing I noticed is that negative words don’t just pervade my marriage. Snide remarks often find my conversations as I dole out gossip in an attempt to “relate” to others. Or my frustration leads me to say things that I know cut down rather than build up.

So, I am challenging myself. For the next 72 hours, I will not say anything negative to or about anyone. Period. Instead, I will try to replace negative words with gracious ones (or silence, if I’m about to break). This may not seem like a very long time; however, if you are female, and are prone to conversing with others, you may quickly realize exactly how hard this could be. I mean, what do you actually talk about if you can’t gossip?