Mommy Life - All I can say is WOW!

This is a long one...excuse my babbling.

It's an amazing process. You get pregnant, and (if you are lucky) Poof! You have a baby and become a mom. Just like that. There's no magic switch to create this amazing love....but let me tell you, something happens and the flood gates open. And love grows. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  I'm so amazed that I can wake up in the morning, see those smiley blue eyes and sweet chubby cheeks staring at me jabbering and just have the surreal rush of love. It's AMAZING. Absolutely God sent. In the beginning it was about survival. Feed, sleep, poop and repeat, all on zero sleep for the parents.  There wasn't much time to think about what you were doing. But now - we're almost 10 weeks -  the bubbly little personality begins to shine and the love keeps on growing. Maybe it's because of the miscarriage and the fact we wanted her SO much. I don't know where it comes from. I just know it's some kind of amazing love.

If you can't tell, we think Arleigh O is FABULOUS. She's a grinner and a talker. She loves to be the center of whatever is going on. From about 3 weeks, if you left her while she was wide awake she'd let you know that wasn't the plan she had in mind. She doesn't have to be held, but she has to know you are there...talking, listening to her babble and coo. If we're cooking or working on chores, she likes to be right there with you. (I hope she's like that until she's 30, but somehow I know it won't last.)

I'm one of those Mama's that can't really sing - but we sing ALL the time. (I'll blame that on the W....we had songs for EVERYTHING!) Old hymns, Praise and Worship, Masker and Silhouette songs, kid's songs, made up songs (thanks Uncle Richard) ....We sing. We start each day with Rise and Shine and give God the Glory....our own version.  (I hope I'm that mom who will stay goofy and will sing this when she's home from college one day.) And we carry on the silliest conversations. There is nothing sweeter than Arleigh answering my grown kid questions with her AhAhs and GoooGoos....It's my little piece of heaven. (Arleigh apparently talked Poppy in to a new boat and a chicken coop Sunday morning while Mommy and NanO were getting ready for church. She was a chatterbox talking to him!) She's finding her voice more and more. Some sounds are just crazy, like when she figured out how to make the silly hiccup sound without actually having the hiccups last Saturday morning. Our favorite game is mimicking sounds. Ah Ah Ah by Mommy then AhAhAh by Arleigh. LOVE it! :-)

Her favorite current possession would have to be her mobile in her crib. She loves that sucker. And Clarence of course. She likes to talk to both. Don't know what she's saying, but they all seem to be happy.

She's letting me read now more and more. I started in the beginning, but she wasn't that interested and would be crying by page 4. (Mommy was so into reading it may have been a bit overwhelming.) From about week 6, she started really focusing on the pages and can now stay engaged for 2 books or more - depending on how much ad-lib Mommy ads. I love the silliness and simplicity of children's books, and apparently I've been missing them for years...Because I can read at night as long as she'll let me. :-) 

We tried rice cereal mixed with formula by spoon around 7 weeks and also in a cereal feeder. She LOVED it and wanted to chow it down! She would attack the spoon with a vengeance! But it didn't make a difference on her staying to sleep longer at all, and didn't really help with reflux, but it did make her break out in a little rash. (Of course my child would be the one allergic to rice.) We decided we'd shelf the idea until closer to 4 months and try again. She's up to sleeping now from 10-3 on her own. The doctor said it had more to do with her size and weight, and if she's getting everything she needs to eat during the day. He said most babies are sleeping through the night on their own (without cereal) at 3-4 months.

Speaking of eating, she's up to around 30 ounces a day. (New mamas, you calculate the minimum they can eat by taking their weight times 2.5, and that's the ounces per day.) She's on a pretty decent schedule. She takes the bulk of her bottles (6 oz) from noon to about 10 at night, then "snack" eats 2-4 ozs randomly in between. 

I've been overwhelmed lately by the seriousness of the responsibility we have to raise our kids right. I'm still figuring out what kind of mom I want to be, what type of discipline we'll want to use, how we'll keep our kids engaged in our family - the list goes on. Heck, she's 10 weeks old.  My mom and I had the conversation this weekend about child rearing. (I have pretty amazing parents. So does John.) I've always known the train up a child verse, but it's never really meant anything to me. Until now.
Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

We raise them right. We give them all the knowledge and directions they need to get to the destination. Of course we hope the road is straight and smooth. But they are going to hit pot holes, they are going to get lost. But if we give them the know-how to figure out how to get back on the right road, they will get to the destination in the end. We have to make their foundation solid so that when we let them go, which we will eventually have to do, they can find the right way on their own. That's the goal. Not for us to drive them there or be the co-pilot for life. But for us to give them the tools to get there on their own. In the end, we have to let go and let God.

 I already know I'm the mom who'd rather have dirty clothes and eat a lean cuisine for supper than miss out on my daily conversation with Arleigh during her awake time when I'm home from work.

I'm the mom that loves to listen and gather everyone's opinions to get ideas (like with the cereal) then go with what works best for us, sometimes throwing it all out the window. There's not a book or person out there that has my baby. And we will always know what's best. Even if we have to search the depths of our soul for the answer and live with the consequences of our mistakes. We're her parents. It's our job. 

I'm the mom that likes being silly and cheesy because now I have the perfect excuse. (Not that I really needed one, but I love goofy. Especially baby goofy when no one else is around.)

I'm the mom that didn't freak when breast feeding didn't work for us. I had kinda figured on a csection, and wasn't totally distraught by the fact of not having a natural delivery. I just wanted her here. But the one thing I did really want to do was breast feed. I have horrible allergies, and I knew BF was best. Plus, the bonding with your baby would have been such a wonderful experience. Both of us tried hard for 6 weeks. Really hard.  If I hadn't gone back to work I'd still be trying. But even with pumping round the clock, Arleigh trying, lactation consultants calls and visits, reading books and websites, bottles of fenugreek, friends helping...It didn't work for us. The most we ever got was 2-3 ounces a day. When you have a kid that was eating 25 ounces a day, completely frustrated with anything other than a bottle, and you are going back to work, it didn't make sense for us to continue. We calculated that I was spending 5-6 hours a day pumping and washing parts. (Outside of her feedings, because she didn't want anything to do with the breast. And with the super duper hospital grade pump, I couldn't do anything else while pumping.) Even though I know the little bit we did give her was best. (And she loved it!) I wish it would have been great for us and I'll try again next time. But I'm not going to let it define who I am as a mom. We did what was best for us and Arleigh, and that's what matters. There are plenty of other ways to bond. I know that now.

I'm the mom who learned real quick to throw out the judgement of other moms and their parenting.  I'm eating lots of my words and thoughts, just like my daddy-in-law said I would. I'm sure I'll be eating all of them before we hit 18. Everyone has different ideas, just like every kid will need the parents to understand they are different, and individuals. What works for one won't work for another. Discipline will be different. Schedules will be different. Even morals will be different from family to family. You just have to trust your instincts and roll with it...and there may be consequences. But you're doing your best, right? 

I'm the mom that knows she may be a dream baby right now, but there's going to come a time when she's not going to be this perfect. I'm soaking up the good now, but I know we're going to have bumps soon. And I just hope we as parents stay focused on the outcome of her character. But lets be real, I can hope and pray all day about how I want her to be. But she's going to be herself, and I just hope we give her enough tools to turn out top-notch in the end. 

I'm the laid back mom who doesn't freak when dog-brother Clarence decides his newborn sister needs a kiss...or kisses. As a matter of fact, Clarence has become the perfect baby sitter...you just have to let him. If she's crying, you can tell "brother" to check on "sister", and he'll go stick his nose in her face and let out some sort of gruff in their own language. Typically she will automatically chill out and just look at her goofy, big, black, fur ball brother. Some days, Clarence gets all the smiles. The vet actually told us that this was the best thing we could do for Clarence and his relationship within the family. Let him do what comes natural from the beginning and just be there to make sure he won't hurt or show aggression. And he hasn't. He's a great big brother. Clarence was in the family first, and we try hard for him to know he's still a part, even though his role (and amount of attention) has definitely changed.

I'm the mom who makes it a habit now to apologize to her when I get tired and cranky and don't act like a mom should. (Sometimes, even with my happy self, it happens from sheer exhaustion.) She doesn't have a clue now.  But one day, if it's a habit of mine, hopefully she will be able to do the same.We want her to have grace. The kind of grace that knows no one is perfect. Even parents.

I'm the mom who knows Arleigh should be in bed earlier than 10 or 11 on a better schedule because she needs 10-11 hours of sleep, but I can't do it because I want to spend every minute I'm awake with her. She's usually awake from about 4-11 pm - just for her Mama I'm sure. She can sleep at school. (For now anyway.)

 I'm the mom who prays with her every day because I want her to know it's part of our routine. Even if she still doesn't have a clue what I'm doing. One day she will. One day it will be her habit.

I'm the mom that bites my tongue if someone is doing something different with her than how I would do it. Or advice that doesn't matter. Just keep on smiling and change the subject. None of us have broken her yet.

I'm the mom that said for years I could never be a stay at home mom, but now I'm eating my words and would do anything to be afforded the luxury of taking care of Arleigh full time. (But I hope she grows to respect me for working hard in a different way.) I'm sure she will be fine; it's more upsetting for me than her. She has fantastic teachers who smother her with love during the day.  And when she's older, they will provide a great education. Of course I'll still need to supplement it all. She, just like me, will be fine. Although the more personality she gets, the harder it is to leave her every day. Makes me wanna cry! Or we could blame it on the new hormones...Who knows. Either way, it's HARD! Thank goodness for sweet teachers who text me pictures!

I'm the mom that wants to spoil her with love, my time, attention and affection, but not spoil her with things. I hope this is one we can remember to stick to as she gets older. (Current closet excluded from judgement.)  :-)

I'm the mom that doesn't panic when daddy puts Palmolive in the bathtub instead of baby wash. I'm just thankful she has a dad that wants to give her a bath. She's loved. So very loved.

Arleigh's baby dedication was Sunday. We went "home" to Mt. Zion to have her dedicated over to the Lord. :-) Full circle for me. NanO did the dedication, and Bro. Steve did the prayer. It was where I was born, brought up, saved, baptized, married, and now Arleigh's dedication. Arleigh had a cheering section. When you think about it, this was a huge day in her life. We, as parents, have made the decision that she's really not ours. She's God's, just on loan. We're responsible for making sure when she meets God, He's proud of his child. (See...SERIOUS responsibility!)  Papa and JuJu, Nano and Poppy, Uncle Josh, Aunt Brittney, Cousin Swayze, Cousins DanDan, Libby Lou and Millie Claire, Cousin Alexa, Auntie Rosie, and Tuscaloosa Aunties Beth and Claire came to see her dedication. (Total cheering section!) Arleigh is surrounded by a village of love.

When all this love comes pouring out of you for this one little baby, there's plenty to go around elsewhere, believe it or not. It's amazing what this new little love has done for our marriage. She's changed us both already. We smile more. Laugh more. Love more. Have you seen John as a daddy? He's down-right awesome. He loves his little mini-me, and she loves him. As a matter of fact, when she first did the "follow the voice" and "follow the face" it wasn't for her Mama - It was for her Daddy.  They are buds. :-) Arleigh only stays at school for about 3 hours in the morning now. John picks her up and he has Daddy duty until I get home. He's great with her. Gets up at night, changes diapers, gives baths...whatever needs doing he's right there. So protective. Super hero mode already.  I pity the guy who comes knocking on our door one day.   Maybe it's because she's 80% John, 15% Josh and about 5% me. Sometimes I can look at her and John's percentage goes down to 60%, but he's winning the genetics right now.

The best advice and the most repeated advice has been to hold them, love them, and hold them some more. Friends who have little ones to elderly adults have all stressed to us that she's going to grow so fast, that when she is on the move she may not want you to hold her. I'm definitely soaking up the sweet baby while I can.  We're making it a point to chill out and enjoy her.

Thank you notes and baby announcements, I promise I have you printed and on the to-do list! House cleaning and cooking, you can wait, too! I've still not reopened Daisymaes. I'm just not ready yet. Arleigh's the one that gets to be center of our universe right now.  It's hard enough going back to my 40 hour a week job - that wasn't a choice. But Daisymaes I can choose. Right now it's not as important...  I've been creative for others for so long, now it's time to use that little gift for Arleigh.   I've been very blessed and fortunate to have a creative outlet and make a little extra. But we're readjusting our needs as a family now, and choosing a second job to take another 8-15 hours a week away just isn't an option. Not while SHE needs me to be a mama.

Gosh she's cute. :-)

But Of COURSE it's hard! We have a 10 week old and our batteries are running out of juice most days! We try to stick to a schedule, but she has a mind of her own sometimes.  I just cut us all some slack, give a little grace and keep on trucking. We are new to this after all. She doesn't seem to mind or even know if we mess up, she just knows we're always there. She knows she's content and loved. She's one of those easy babies. (Even though we're not sleeping, and our new routine/schedule was shot after our weekend in Columbus.) She's still a very good, calm baby.

Man I love my little ray of sunshine and my little family.  When I say we are truly blessed, we REALLY are blessed. Life is good. So sweet and so good.

Now if I can just remember all this when she hits the terrible twos through teenage years, we'll be in business. That's why it takes a village, right? So the village can pick up when we mess up....or we're wore slap out! :-)