Soon I’ll Be a Mother of Two…

As I’m sitting in my office on campus today, I suddenly and overwhelmingly became sad. Like, tears in the corners of my eyes, fast, jittery heart rate sad. Why? Because out of the blue it occurred to me that these are going to be the last few weeks I’ll have in which James is my only baby. Before I can even blink, I’ll be a mother of two.

It was like being hit with a baseball bat. In that random moment it became real. James wouldn’t be my baby anymore. He would be my big boy (who I love more than anything in this world) and I would have to learn to love this new sweet baby with equal fervor without sacrificing anything from him.

It broke my heart.

Guys, James is my baby. My baby.

And yet, at the same time, I’m getting really excited (and nervous and scared) to meet our daughter. It’s this weird paradox where I’m equally heartbroken and joyful about this transition. We are going to have a daughter! Which is incredible! And at the same time, we aren’t going to only have a son anymore, which is making me really weepy.

What is this? Why are these feelings only hitting me now? I’m not a typical pregnant woman. I don’t really nest all that much (unless writing counts as nesting, in which case, I nest a LOT). I don’t particularly enjoy most of being pregnant (except baby kicks and hearing baby heartbeats and things like that). But I am hyper emotional when I’m pregnant (just ask Vince), so why is this only now making my heart ache and wobble?

I think it was the realization that if Firefly (who has a tentative name, but we’re not publicly sharing yet, since James’s name wasn’t officially decided on until he was two days old) came on the same timeline as James, I would have less than a month left with just him. And that feels like no time at all. I also think it’s because she feels so big already, and I’m already finding reasons why having a second baby might impede what I can do with my first baby. I can’t get in the floor and play with him much right now, because of joint, ligament, and back pain. I can’t cuddle him the way I want, because of my gargantuan belly (though he does enjoy sitting in my baddha konasana leg nest). I can’t even let him sleep next to me (which he never really wanted to do until the last few weeks), because without 1,000,000 pillows all around me, my back and hips and shoulders and ribs feel like they’re being pulled apart for the entire next day.

I don’t want to let my baby down by not being only his mommy anymore. I don’t want to lose this special bond I have with him. He is my most favorite person in the whole world. Typing this now, I’m fighting tears, because I don’t even have the words for how special and wonderful and perfect he is, for how his smile makes my heart feel. I feel like I’m betraying him.

And yet, I loved having a brother. I keep reminding myself that I can’t imagine life without my brother, Joey. And that the age difference between James and Firefly won’t be that much bigger than the one between Joey and me. Sure, we fought a lot when we were little, but now he’s one of my best friends, one of my most favorite human beings. I hope that James and his sister will (hopefully) grow into friends who are always there for each other, no matter what.

Guys. So many emotions. Too many emotions. Here’s hoping I can calm myself down a little before Firefly arrives and I have to learn to mother two sweet, perfect babies instead of one.

Photos taken by Shutter and Bloom Photography / Jessica Conley.

Jamesy is Turning Two

At this time two years ago, I was laboring in the car while Vince diligently did his Sunday duty and cleaned the school where I’d just put in my last day two days before. We went home shortly after, I got in the bath (which, incidentally, sped my labor up), and Vince packed my hospital bag. Four and a half hours later, after roughly thirteen hours of labor, a panicked ride to an unplanned hospital, and so much support from Vince and mom, James, my sweet, perfect, strong boy, was born.

He’s two, guys. HE’S TWO. How did that happen? Shouldn’t I still be holding him in my arms, swaddled, pressed up against me all the time? Shouldn’t I still be willingly attached to my breast pump and holding him high on my chest every two hours? Shouldn’t he still need me every second of the day?

James. Is. Two.

I’m sure every mom feels this way, but I’m so incredibly proud of the little boy he’s becoming. Some people often refer to him as wild, or get a look in their eye that says, “Boy, that kid’s a handful,” but I love every single second of his energy, his exploratory nature, his energetic and joyful spirit. I love that he’s stubborn, that he’s independent, that he wants to explore the world around him and see what it will do. He may seem wild and rough, but let me assure you, he’s absolutely perfect.

It’s weird knowing that somehow I’ve managed to keep a child alive, a whole human, for two years. It’s weird, and empowering, and still a little terrifying. I titled James’s first birthday blog “My Joyfully Full, Utterly Broken Heart,” and that blog title rings true for this one as well. As I put my son to bed tonight, my heart felt joyfully, completely full, but it also felt utterly, completely broken. Why? Because as much as I love every new day with him, every new word, every new skill, every laugh, I mourn the loss of the baby that he’s growing away from. I understand a little more each day why my mom still calls my brother and me her babies. James, whether he’s two or twenty or a hundred, will always, always, be my baby.

At two-years-old, James loves to dance, he loves to run, he loves to laugh. He’s hard headed (where does he get that, I wonder? Definitely not me…), independent, and so incredibly smart. He has energy for days and loves to “help” however he can. He loves his dada, and he loves his mama. In general, he just loves.

I look forward to the next year, watching him mature from two to three, but already I’m mourning the loss of one–the loss of the year that held his first steps, so many first words, so many firsts in general.

To my son, my sweet angel, my lively, lovely little boy, Happy Birthday. I love you with my whole entire heart, and will love you more each and every day from now until forever.

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Baby Firefly is a Girl! (And other thoughts)

My second pregnancy sure has been different than the first. I was anxious and worried for every step of the way when I was pregnant with James. Every single step. I constantly wanted to get to the next step. When will I show? When will we know the gender? When will he kick? When will he be here? But this time around, things are moving much slower and much faster at the same time.

We found out we were expecting a baby girl when I was 21 weeks along (I’m now 24 weeks). You can find out as early as sixteen weeks (I think we found out at week 17 or 18 with James), but I wasn’t anxious to know this time. More than likely, this is my last pregnancy. Two kids seems like the perfect number for our family. (Disclaimer: If a third baby comes along, we will be overjoyed! But as of now, we’re not planning on it.) And because this is most likely our last pregnancy, I’m in no hurry to hit milestones, because the anticipation can be so lovely and magical on it’s own. We went in for the ultrasound hoping for a healthy baby Firefly, and left with the unbelievable news that not only was baby Firefly healthy and whole and looking great, but also a girl!

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Needless to say, I was over the moon excited about this news! I always said I’d like a boy and a girl (though two boys would have been just as great). But unlike when I found out James was a boy (which I was also over the moon excited about), I waited a day to announce this news. It wasn’t that I was less excited or anything, it was just that I wasn’t so anxious. I could let myself experience the knowledge and bask in it without sharing it right away, which is new for me.

As I’ve said many times, my first pregnancy was an anxious one. Is he OK? What was that feeling? Am I eating too much? Too little? Will he be healthy? Am I healthy? Should I do this? Do that? Do anything? But this pregnancy has been much calmer. Chasing James helps, knowing (sort of) what to expect helps, and knowing that this is probably our last pregnancy helps, because I want to savor everything instead of rushing to the next thing.

Even though it’s been calmer, this pregnancy has also been harder than my first in a lot of ways–more severe nausea, lots of gastrointestinal issues, sciatic pain that won’t quit–and then all of December I was sick–first a cough that became bronchitis, which caused  a torn intercostal muscle, then a sever sinus infection (which meant two rounds of antibiotics back to back, which I hate because they make me so very sick on their own), then a migraine-strength headache that lasted about a week, which was finally followed by a stomach virus (and that cough never went away and still hasn’t that still irritates the torn, slowly healing muscle). I’m heavier than I was with James (because I started out heavier than I was when I got pregnant with James), which has caused me no end of mental anguish. And I feel guilt this time around–guilt that my sweet, perfect, wild son will somehow feel less than once we bring a second baby home.

But this pregnancy has, in other ways, been much easier. I’m not worried all the time. The idea of a natural labor doesn’t terrify me like it did with James (I planned, and had, a medication-free labor with James, but I was absolutely and completely terrified of what it would be like). The fear of bringing home a whole human to care for isn’t scary at all this time around. (I’m proud to say we’ve successfully kept James alive for nearly two years! We deserve a medal or a trophy or a cake or something.) As a couple, Vince and I have both just settled into this pregnancy more calmly and it’s been really nice. Plus, I remember how awesome having a sibling was, and I know that in the long run, we’re giving him a playmate and friend for life, which is such a great feeling.

Part of me misses the excitement, the fear of the unknown, all the firsts we experienced with James, and part of me is enjoying just being along for Firefly’s ride. When I hear her heartbeat, I tear up (every time). When we see her in ultrasounds, and when we found out her gender, I thought my heart would explode with joy. But it’s nice to just experience it this time. It’s nice to look at James and see what two years of love can help grow and know that we have that to look forward to with our sweet Firefly girl.

James will be two in February, and I know that means that before I know it, Firefly will be here. And then she’ll be one and he’ll be three. And then they’ll be in elementary school. And high school. And college. And have their own lives. And in that way, things are moving too fast. James should still be swaddled, not walking and talking and playing and laughing and making his own little jokes and games up as he lives his life. Firefly should still be a tiny pea-sized idea, not a baby big enough to kick me and startle me and make her powerful presence known. Time is moving too quickly. So I’m trying to enjoy the moments, the breaths, the times when James wants to sit in my lap quietly and drink his milk while he watches morning cartoons and the times when baby girl is doing flips all around while I watch James chase Vince around the house and laugh as his daddy plays in the ways only daddy can. I’m trying to freeze these moments so that one day when I’m comforting James after his first break up, or moving Firefly into her first dorm, or helping both of them figure out how to have independent lives, I can remember these snapshots in time and re-experience them no matter how much time has passed.

As I sit and type this, Vince and James are in the other room laughing like wild men and Firefly is gently kicking toward my belly button, and all I can this is how wonderful this time is, how difficult this time can be, and how fortunate I am to experience every single second of it.

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Following the Signs

I’m a big believer in signs. Anytime there’s a big coincidence in my life, I think it means something. Coincidences happen to me a lot, so I take note of them, become more aware of whatever I think they were telling me, meditate on them.

As anyone who reads this blog (or my Facebook updates, or my Instagram updates, or talks to me) knows, I struggle with insecurity, with self-love, with jealousy and everything that goes along with that. I’ve always written about it (for Y E A R S I’ve written about it) and I always end my blogs with all the reasons why those feelings don’t have to control my life, don’t have to be part of who I am. And while I’m writing those blogs, I feel that way. I believe my own words.

“I should love myself because I have worth.”
“My weight doesn’t define me.”
“I control what I give credence to in my life, no one else.”

I leave that blog feeling empowered and strong, but slowly that ebbs away until I’m back where I started.

“I’m too fat to be loved or to be pretty.”
“I don’t have any worth because _______.”
“I have to change myself/fix myself RIGHT NOW.”

In the last few weeks, the following things have happened.

  1. A woman that I look up to more than she can even begin to realize pulled me aside and told me to stop posting negative things about myself online, because not only are the untrue, but by saying them on social media, I’m putting them out into the universe where they don’t belong. She encouraged and built me up without going easy on me. She pushed me to really think about the things I’ve thought about my whole life, but to think past where I’d always stopped before.
  2. A good friend of mine asked me the question, “How much do you weigh?” I told her. She said, “Does that number define who Lindsey is?” No. It doesn’t. “Then it doesn’t matter.” She proceeded to be all sweet and wonderful afterward, too, which is her general state of being–sweet and wonderful.
  3. Another good friend of mine sent me a link to a blog that talked about loving yourself like your life depended on it. This friend also is currently struggling with loving herself. I see her, I see how beautiful she is, what a great mom she is, and it’s like looking in a mirror as I see her struggle through all these untruths about her worth and abilities. I want to make her see the truths that I see about her–she’s beautiful, strong, capable, and loved.
  4. I went out on the lake with my family and friends (who are all basically family, too). I got in a swimsuit in front of people and never once wondered if they were judging me or what they thought. I was surrounded by love and joy and it didn’t even occur to me that I didn’t have a negative self-thought until after it was over. Another person on the boat was feeling insecure, and one of my best friends said, “We’re all friends here, and no one cares what anyone else looks like. Let’s just swim and have fun!” It opened my eyes and filled my heart up that such a simple idea could hold so much power and truth.
  5. I text my best friend a lot. A LOT. I tell her how I’m feeling. I tell her my struggles and my insecurities. And she always answers me with kindness, but with truth. “We aren’t going to look like we did before our babies, and that’s fine.” She speaks the truth of our strength, our beauty, and our ferocity into my life (and she hunts for Pokemon with me).
  6. While literally hanging on my husband in the kitchen, crying because I was so upset over the way I looked, he said, “Look at James. See how he looks at you? Do you think he’s ever had any thought about you except how much he loves you? That’s how I love you. That’s how anyone who matters loves you.” He’s said these kinds of things to me for years, even before James, but I haven’t been able to hear them, and I’m hoping now, I can.

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I have lived in a self deprecating pit my entire life. I dug the pit, I moved all my furniture in, I climbed down, and I burned the ladder that would be the only way out. But thanks to the people in my life who love me, who I love so dearly, I’m building a new ladder and I’m climbing out. And it’s not because I started a new diet, or  because I’ve redefined who I am as a person, or because I’ve changed something huge and radical in my life. It’s because of the people in my life who have flooded me with truth and with love (sometimes tough love, sometimes not). It’s because of all these ‘coincidences’ happening at once and pointing in giant, flashing, neon arrows toward the truth that I want my life to be centered around.

So yeah, I believe in signs. And when there are this many signs pointing to the same thing, the same destination, I make it my business to follow them.

When Moms Give Advice

When I was pregnant, I got all sorts of advice from other moms–some solicited, some not. A lot of that advice was wonderful! And some of it made me cry and cry. Then, after I had my son, I got MORE advice with the same stats–I asked for some, I got some I didn’t ask for, some was great, some made me feel like the worst mom in the world.

Because of this, I always said I would never give another mom advice unless she asked me, and then I would try to take into account her situation and not just force upon her the “truth” of my own situation, as if my experience in motherhood was the ultimate experience that everyone else needed to live by.

So, naturally, before I even realize what I’m doing, I start handing out advice left and right. “When James was a baby this REALLY worked. You should try it.” “When I was pregnant, the ONLY thing that worked was this. You should do this. Can I help you get started?”I was that mom all of a sudden. Yikes.

Once I realized what I was doing, I reigned myself in. I’m happy to say that now I limit my mommy/baby/wifey advice to the people who either ask me directly, or who happen to get stuck in a conversation with me where those topics are relevant.

But, here and now, I have a piece of advice I need to share with ALL moms, but to give that advice, I need to tell a story first:

The other day, I walked out of the living room to go get something, and left James playing in his play pen. I come back, and he’s holding my coffee cup–which was on a table that should have been far enough away from him–and it’s empty (don’t worry, the coffee had been cold for a while). I take the cup from him and look to where it was sitting, and there’s a huge puddle of coffee in the floor. Very calmly, I go to get towels and cleaner to clean it up. As I’m cleaning, James tries to climb the wall of his pen. Afraid he’ll fall, I go to grab him, only to fall myself, causing the pen wall to fall and a huge piece to snap off. I yelped and James started to cry, so I pick him up to comfort him, only to discover that he’s had a blow out (for those of you who aren’t parents, that means poopy diaper explosion). I take him into his room, clean him up, and put him in his crib so I can fix the play pen and clean up the coffee. I got back into the living room, and as I’m crossing the room, I step on a hair clip of mine and it shatters, pieces going everywhere (not to mention my foot didn’t feel great). So here I am, smelling faintly of baby poop and stale coffee, with hundreds of plastic shards all around, mixed in with my toddler’s toys, with a play pen that needs to be fixed. And all I could do was laugh for a minute, push my hair out of my eyes, and get to it.

So, what’s the moral here? What’s the advice that I really need to share with all the mommies who read this?

Love your babies, hold on tight, do your best, and always expect the unexpected. 

No matter what you do, there will be someone out there who thinks you’re 100% right, and another person who thinks you’re 100% wrong. Breastfeed, bottle feed, rock to sleep, sleep train, purees, mashes, baby led weaning–someone is going to agree with you on your choices and someone else is going to tell you that you’re doing it all wrong. So what do you do? Ignore them. Do what’s best for you baby. Research things you aren’t sure about. Talk to your pediatrician. Talk to your mom, your grandmas, your aunts, your female cousins, your friends who’ve had kids. Talk to your husband or partner. But at the end of the day, when you’re standing there overseeing the huge mess that you’re baby has contributed to, smelling a little funky with food (or something else) on your shirt, and a smile on your baby’s face because he’s spending time with you, know that you’re doing a great job. We mommies are a tribe of warrior women who raise babies and learn to solve all problems. We should come together in person, online, in spirit, and support each other in our decisions. If you’re a mommy who loves her babies, then you, my friend, are a freaking super hero.

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As a bonus, here’s a totally irrelevant photo of my baby chowing down on a lemon!

My Joyfully Full, Utterly Broken Heart

Nearly every night before I go to bed, I sneak into my son’s bedroom and shine light on him to watch his sweet breaths for a moment. The panicky part of my mom brain does it to make sure he’s OK, that’s he’s alive and well, and the calm part of my mom brain does it just because I want to see him a moment more before I close my own eyes for the night. And while this little ritual is special to me every night, tonight it was very emotional for me, because when I wake in the morning, my baby will be a whole entire year old.

How can I describe what this feels like? Before James was born, I was terrified and excited. After he was born, I fell in love with this tiny human, and somehow managed to fall more and more and more in love with him every minute of every day. And now, I have this wellspring of love and memories inside me, and my heart is full and broken all at once.

Already I miss his sweet baby coos; I miss the feel of his swaddled newborn body as I struggled to stay awake and hold him; I miss his sweet little face and head shape before his surgery; I miss his first time rolling over, his first crawl, his first steps; I miss being in labor and the feeling–both physically and emotionally–the split second after he entered this world and they laid him on my chest.

And yet, I love my toddler (it’s even hard to type the word!). I love the way he walks to me, the way he flings his body toward me when I’m close enough with biggest smiles and sweetest laughs, the way he pulls at my legs and lifts his arms toward me, knowing I’ll scoop him up. I love how he buries his face into my shoulder and sighs. I love how he trusts that if I’m there, he can’t fall. I love the way he throws his arms up when I say, “How big are you? So big!” I love the sound of his voice as he says, “Dada.” I love this sweet toddler phase, even if he’s into everything and so sweetly wild.

So my heart is so joyfully full of how amazing my baby is and how amazing this life is with him, and it’s so utterly broken by the parts of motherhood that are gone forever with him.

I’m so grateful for my son. I’m so grateful that I get to be his mom. I’m so grateful for the last year, and I’m so looking forward to the next. But for the first time in my life, I understand the times my mommy and daddy have said that no matter how old I get, and no matter how far away I live, I will always be their baby, because James will ALWAYS be my baby. As he starts to talk, to walk, to go to school, to drive, to get married and have his own children, he will forever be my sweet baby who was born so very early on a Monday morning, who barely cried at all–until they took him away to weigh him–and who from the very start stared up at me with the biggest, most amazing blue eyes as if to say, “Hi mommy, we’re in this together now.”

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Moments after James was born.
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Moments after James was born.

A Recap of 2015: The Year of Jamesy

Every year, I expect magical, amazing, wonderful things to happen, and most years I look back and think, “That was pretty good.” But this past year, magical, amazing, wonderful things DID happen. So, here’s a quick recap of my 2015.

~I started the year with three of my favorite people (and two of my favorite dogs), 31-32 weeks pregnant (though if you ask me, I think I was a little further along).

~On February 22nd, Vince told the baby boy in my belly he was ready for him TWO WHOLE WEEKS EARLY. On February 23rd, after 13 hours of labor and 30 minutes of pushing, we met our sweet James Gordon.

~James  captured the hearts of his Grandman, Jamma, Mammaw, Uncle Joey, and Aunt Tiffy pretty quickly.

~I watched my husband grow into a father, and I fell even more in love with this handsome goofball man.

~I tried my hand at photography, and while I’m not great, I was happy to be able to shoot my friend Casey’s wedding (SO SCARY!), do some headshots for my neighbor and friend Victoria (and her sweet Carson), and take some pregnancy announcement photos for my friend Sarah!

~Over the course of the year, we had lots of family pictures taken! I don’t have them all yet, but thank you to my sister-in-law, Tiffany, my friend, Hannah, my brother, Joey, and my friend, Jessica for all the lovely photos you took of us!

~When James was 7 months old, after months of my mom pushing our doctor (my mom is like a superhero!), we found out James needed a cranial vault remodeling (click HERE to read all about that experience). He’s done SO well since then, but it was so stressful and scary at the time.

~We got to see James and his six cousins with their great grandfather, my Papa Cardona. Four generations! Photos by my cousin Amanda and her husband Jayson (Jayson Mullen Photography).

~But the biggest thing for me this year has been the journey of not only learning who I am now that I’ve had a baby, but becoming a mother in every sense of the word. That’s the most magical, wonderful, amazing thing so far this year, is getting to know this little boy and getting to know myself.

 

This year has been amazing. The best one to date! What about you? Tell me about your 2015!