Seven Months

Seven Months August 17, 2014

Seven Months
August 17, 2014

Joy.

It’s the word that sums up the last seven months. Jonathan has brought so much joy to our lives and the lives of those closest to us. His smile is infectious and his giggle is probably my favorite sound in the entire world. No one makes him laugh like Stephen does, and my heart overflows when I can hear Jonathan laughing with his daddy upstairs from the main floor. He’s an easy baby, as babies go, though he does have his moments of fussiness. But even when those times are trying, one smile erases the frustration of trying to use logic on an infant.

The look on his face when I walk into his room in the morning — yes, he is now sleeping in his own room — is one of unabashed love. It’s that smile, that coo, that love, that has made transitioning him to his own room work so well. We made the decision that he needed to move to his crib in his room, instead of the pack-n-play in our room, just over a week ago. I wasn’t getting much sleep and Jonathan seemed to be regressing a bit. Stephen thought we should move him to his room, I think mainly for my sake. After reading online about the various methods of sleep training, we decided to go with the “cry it out” method. I know this is controversial and that there are so many people who would condemn us as the lowest scum in the parental pool. That said, my parents let me cry it out and I turned out mostly okay.

I’m a firm believer that you should do what works best for your family and your baby. If you’re not comfortable with it, maybe it isn’t the method for you.

So, we gave it a shot. And it worked wonderfully. We decided to establish a more concrete bedtime routine so that he could get used to what came next. So: bath, Bible, breastfeed/bottle (if for some reason I’m not home at that time), bed. Admittedly, the first night was a little tough. We put him down with hugs, kisses and “I love you” from each of us and left the room. He sort of explored his crib a little and fell asleep. Then, about 2:30am, he woke up crying. This is where the video monitor we were so generously gifted by my former coworker came in clutch. Knowing that if I went in to see him, he would probably only get worse (he was used to nursing when he’d wake up in our room, another habit we wanted to break), I was able to watch him. This gave me the reassurance that, although crying, he had not hit his head or gotten a limb stuck in the side of the crib. After 40 minutes of crying of various degrees, he fell asleep. And slept until 7am.  The next night, he cried for 10 minutes when we put him down, but then slept straight through the night (I didn’t, I woke up at 2am convinced I heard him crying but he was sleeping peacefully). And every night since, he’s gone down, fussed for less than 10 minutes and then slept peacefully through the night. I’m sleeping through the night now too.  Stephen and I get some time alone in the evenings now, which makes us both very happy.

Even after that first hard night, I went into his room in the morning to a happy, calm, loving baby. I think that was God’s way of reassuring me that letting him cry during the night before didn’t teach him that we don’t love him or that he’s alone in this world. As a mom, those little “winks from God” are so valuable to know you’re doing a good job.

Very important morning reading in his crib :)

Very important morning reading in his crib : )

Our sweet boy continues to be a little explorer. Now that he’s crawling, he wants to see and experience everything. As a parent, there’s nothing quite like watching your little one take in and process the world around him. He’s realized that can open dresser drawers, decorate the room with movies from the shelf and make his swing move with the click of a button. He’s loved trying all the foods that I’ve made for him. He’s had apples, peaches, pears, butternut squash, sweet potato, green beans, peas, carrots, prunes and bananas. I just got some avocado for him to try as well. He is eager to eat solid foods, but still nurses and has formula too. I let him have a piece of pear the other day as I was making his purées. He wanted to eat it, but it was too slippery to stay in his hand. He was able to shave off a bit with his two bottom teeth, though. He had a cracker at my friend Marcia’s on Monday and was able to hold that much easier, though I’m pretty sure more ended up on his shirt and the floor than in his belly. I’m excited to add more finger foods to his expanding palette.

He spotted me while exploring the adjacent room. I love how happy he gets to see me.

He spotted me while exploring the adjacent room. I love how happy he gets to see me.

He is playing more independently now, which is actually what is allowing me to write this blog. He’s got a play area downstairs where we have toys out for him and plenty of space to crawl. He has to be watched closely still, as the house has not been baby proofed, but it is so fun to watch what he decides to do. We took him to the park not long ago and he was fascinated by the grass. I’ve heard of many children who don’t like the feel of grass, but he couldn’t wait to get off the blanket we laid out for him and explore.

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I’m so thankful to be his mom. Experiencing the world a second time, though his eyes, is incredible. Knowing that these first experiences will shape his understanding of the world is amazing. I am so excited for the rest of the year, especially with the holidays approaching. We have the unique opportunity to make family traditions that will be with him (and any future siblings) his whole childhood and might even be passed to his children someday. What a glorious and precious time is upon us!

Six Months

Six months.

One half of a year.

As I sit here, watching our six month old son happily entertain himself in his exersaucer, I can’t believe that half of his first year of life has passed. He’s grown and changed so much during the last 181 days. He gets more handsome every day. Okay, I lied. He gets more handsome every second. I’m his mom, I’m crazy about him, so sue me. He is still the happiest baby I have ever met. He’s quick to smile at funny faces I make, songs I sing to him and just about anything having to do with his daddy. Literally just saying “da” makes him giggle. There is nothing like the look of pure joy that he gives when he wakes up and one of us goes to pick him up from where he is laying.

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I just can’t get over how much I love this face.

He’s very inquisitive. He studies everything. He loves to people watch when we are out in public. He’s taught himself how to use each of the toys on his exersaucer with minimal adult intervention. I am loving watching as his hand-eye coordination and dexterity become more refined than the “flailing in the right general direction” of a few months ago.  He is purposeful in his movements and very strong. He has a very firm grip and baby abs of steel. His legs have no trouble bearing his weight and, were it not for that whole balance thing, he could stand on his own.

Standing in his crib

Standing in his crib

He’s mobile. He can’t quite crawl yet, but the combination of rolling, turning different directions while on his tummy and scooting himself forward with his legs helps him cross the span of rooms or our bed. It’s an exciting and scary time for me as he can’t be left alone or he may fall off of something. He sets his mind to a destination or toy (or my cell phone) and works his way to it through the capabilities he has. I don’t think it will be long before he can really get around. Though he once hated tummy time, now that he can roll from his back to his belly and move around, he seems to enjoy the vantage point of the tummy.  As I’m typing this he just pushed himself up onto his hands and knees while trying to get to the elusive cell phone. This momma is about to be very busy.

He’s still our long and lean boy. Though 6 months old, he can still fit into a few of his 0-3 month clothes. This is totally brand dependent, though. Old Navy must run big because he fits into 0-3 still but Gerber must run small because his 3-6 clothes are tight on him. We’ll find out his weight and height at his six month well-baby visit on Monday. Then the chalkboard making and picture taking shall commence.

I am obsessed with taking pictures of this handsome boy!

I am obsessed with taking pictures of this handsome boy!

We’ve started to experiment with baby foods. He still nurses (like a champ, now!) and has formula but has extended his repertoire to include rice cereal and puréed food. So far he’s tried apples & strawberries, peaches, carrots and pears. Next on the list to try is sweet potatoes. He’s become much more skilled at the use of the spoon, as have we! He seems to like pears and apple/strawberry the best so far. I’ll be trying to make our own purées here pretty soon! I’m also intrigued by the idea of baby-led weaning, but haven’t really tried to give him any whole foods yet except a small piece of tortilla and some mashed potatoes. He is fascinated by watching people eat, especially his Uncle Matt at breakfast time. He also loves to chew on spoons. Maybe he is trying to imitate adults eating?

He babbles a lot. Sometimes he’ll just sit there or lay there with one finger in his mouth telling us his life story. Though it often sounds like he’s saying “hi” or “hey” (and the “hey” definitely makes him sound like the Fonz), I’m not really sure if those count as his first words? I’m trying to teach him to say “Daddy,” but with the amount of Crossfit talk around our house, his first word might be “deadlift.”

Jonathan means “God has given” in Hebrew. God has certainly given us an amazing gift. He fills our days with joy and laughter. He fills our hearts with a love so deep and so rich. He makes me fall more in love with my husband. He has bonded us together as a team on another level. It is an honor and privilege to raise him, to pray for him and to shape him into the man of God he will someday become.  I am so thankful for him and the great adventure his life will be.

 

Fingers are still a staple in his diet.

Fingers are still a staple in his diet.

 

 

 

Countdown to Thirty

Last weekend, Stephen turned thirty years old. Much like everything else in life, he took it in stride, with grace and dignity. Despite his loving wife making “you’re old” jokes, he entered his thirty-first year of life readily. We had a small get together with friends and family to celebrate his thirtieth, as well as the thirtieth birthday of our good friend Jeff. Good food, good drinks, great friends.

Both 30 year olds are also new dads :)

Both 30 year olds are also new dads :)

According to the internet, which has only lied to me a couple of times, it is now 167 days until my thirtieth birthday. Maybe it’s a female thing, but turning thirty seems like a pretty darn big deal to me. Though I applaud my husband’s ability to so seamlessly transition into his thirties, I’m a bit more… emotional… about it. But honestly, when am I not more emotional about things than he is?

Thirty.

Remember when thirty was old Like, really old? I distinctly remember in high school, which seems both an eternity ago and  like it was just a few years ago, thinking a famous person was attractive and then finding out they were thirty (or over) and thinking how impossible it was that they could be that handsome and that old. Let’s take Brad Pitt for example. It’s pretty much universally accepted that he’s good looking. In 1999, when Fight Club came out, he was 36 years old. I was 15.  How on Earth could someone so handsome be that old? Yet, Stephen is doing it right now, so it can be done.

But here I am, quickly approaching thirty, and I don’t feel old at all. Well, maybe “at all” is a bit of a stretch. I do want to go to bed by like 9:30 every night. I think I had this assumption that by thirty I would be as grown up as I always thought that my parents were at that age. When my mom was thirty, I was five (turning six later that year). When you’re six, doesn’t it seem like your parents have everything under control? Life just runs the way it is supposed to all the time. It’s interesting to be on the other side of the coin now, making the decisions with my husband that affect our family’s future. All the behind the scenes things you never once thought about as a child are all of a sudden your job. Having realized all of this now, I’m even more grateful to my parents. Thanks Mom & Dad for doing all the heavy lifting so that CD and I could just be kids.

For those of you that have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember my 30 Before 30 List. Essentially a bucket list for my twenties, this list was composed of things that I hoped to accomplish before my thirtieth birthday. I’m happy to say I’ve crossed nine things off that list so far. Though nine things doesn’t seem like a big dent, I crossed off the first item (have a baby) and so I think that I’ve accomplished the most important thing. I honestly believe that I am feeling pretty okay with turning thirty because of this one thing. If I entered my thirties having not had a child yet, then I think I would feel old. No offense to those who choose to wait until their thirties to have children, but I always thought I’d start having kids in my mid-twenties, so this is really pushing it on my preconceived notions of an ideal life schedule.

That said, having 167 days to work with, I think I might be able to cross a few more things off of my list. Some are most likely not going to happen, but I am working on a few:

#13: Visit a new National Park: I’ve informed Stephen that I want to go to Grand Teton National Park. It’s in Wyoming, so it’s not too terribly far. We could probably make a long weekend of it. Cabins are not cheap, so we’d probably have to tent camp. With an infant. I’m a little hesitant about that part, but I’m sure people do it all the time (suggestions are welcome). Plus, it looks gorgeous.

#24: Make a pie from scratch: I’m thinking this is doable. I’m trying to eat healthier, so I’m going to need someone to eat the majority of said pie. I think I’m going to try this Whole Wheat Apple Pie. It’s sort of healthier, right? I think the little flowers on top are so cute, though the only cookie cutters I have are Star Wars, so mine might have little Yoda heads on top. Maybe we combine pie with a Star Wars marathon.

#26: Take a class of some sort: I’m actually in process on this one! I’m taking an online photography class through The Great Courses. It’s a series of 24 lectures by Joel Sartore, a professional photographer who works with National Geographic. At about a half-hour each, the lectures are something that I can fit in during Jonathan’s brief daily naps. I’m only four lectures in, but feel like I’m learning a lot already.

I’m actually already enrolled in two courses on Coursera for August and September, so I think I’ve definitely got this one in the bag. The Camera Never Lies and Sports and Society will be my first forays into free online education. I’m very excited to start and have a feeling that I’ll soon be a Coursera addict.

#25: Take a photo worthy of blowing up to decorate our home with: I have a couple possible contenders that I’ve taken over the years, but I’m not sure I have the right space in our home for them to work with. Perhaps #13 mixed with #26 will help me complete this one?

I’m hoping to make it to a few more of the things on this list, but we’ll see what I am able to pull off all while spending my days entertaining an inquisitive baby boy. The older he gets and the more capable he becomes, the more I don’t want to miss a moment of his exploration and discovery of the world around him. Seeing him learn is so incredible.

December will be here before we know it and so will the big 3-0. But really, I’m okay with that. I know my thirties will be filled with incredible things. Jonathan will grow and change in huge and amazing ways during my thirties. We will hopefully have more children in my thirties. We’ll celebrate five years of marriage when we’re thirty. Then ten years in our mid-thirties. I hope to have a home of our own in our thirties. Our thirties will be a time of adventure and I can’t wait to live those adventures with my favorite person.

 

Five Months

Jonathan Michael June 17, 2014

Jonathan Michael
June 17, 2014

Our dear friends Brandon and Kelsey Gossett told us when I was pregnant that parenthood exceeds your expectations. You know you’re going to love it and you think you know how awesome it is going to be, but when the time comes, it is better than you could have imagined.

That is completely true.

Being Jonathan’s mom these last five months has been some of the greatest joy I have ever experienced. Watching him grow and change daily is astonishing. Every single day he learns more and is capable of more. Every single day he shows that he is taking in and processing the world around him. Every single day I fall more in love with our son and his budding personality.

J with his 5 month chalkboard :)

J with his 5 month chalkboard :)

At five months old, our son is able to roll over both ways. He’s been able to do belly to back for a while now and is just getting the hang of back to belly. He doesn’t string multiple rolls together yet, but it’s only a matter of time before he goes rolling across the room.  During a diaper change he discovered his feet and now holds them for each new diaper. When on his back, he can often be seen in full mastery of the happy baby yoga pose.

Our son is not a big fan of napping, often falling asleep while nursing and then taking 15-20 minute power naps. On rare occasion he’ll surprise me and take a two-to-three hour nap once a day. Honestly, I don’t mind because he’s been sleeping all night. Yesterday he napped for three-and-a-half hours and, though I was quite productive, I missed snuggling and playing with my boy.

We often start our mornings with some baby gym time or, as of last week, some exersaucer time. We have this one. He loves that he can stand up all by himself in it and I love that he can stand and I have free hands :) It’s been amazing to see how in less than a week he’s gone from just standing in it looking at the toys to grabbing them and manipulating them with those sweet chubby fingers. He can get the dragonfly to his mouth to chew, spin the bee and move the beads along their path. It’s incredible to see him explore his world and take that initiative himself.  Sometimes I’ll stand in the kitchen just out of his sight and watch him with amazement at how smart he is becoming.

We’ve recently started playing a “peek-a-boo” type game that he really enjoys. I’ll put his burp cloth over his head, ask “Where’s Jonathan?” and then pull it off quickly and say “there he is!” He smiles so big each time.  I sing him “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” and he seems to enjoy the melody and my over exaggerated expressions. He also smiles when I say “satisfactual” like he knows it’s not a real word. I’m pretty lucky that he hasn’t realized yet what a horrible singing voice I have.

Big boy <3

Big boy

He’s very good with other people and will happily go to them. So much exposure to his family and our friends is making for a trusting and loving baby. He is fascinated by his little friend Piper (9 months) and you can tell he can’t wait to do everything she can do like crawl, pull up to standing and eat real food. I can’t wait for him to meet his new friend Avagale on Saturday – the first time he’s met a baby smaller than he is!

He still loves his daddy more than anyone on this Earth. They constantly melt my heart in the ways they show love to each other. Jonathan absolutely lights up when his daddy comes home from work and watching their relationship grow makes me so excited to see how Stephen will become Jonathan’s hero as he gets older. Man time is a sacred part of our days around here.

Sometimes it still seems surreal that this sweet little boy is really ours. That God has entrusted us to raise him and shape him into the man he will someday be is a humbling and exciting truth. We’re blessed by the community that we have here with our families being so far away. He now has two uncles in town, which he loves, but he also loves the aunties and uncles who aren’t blood related.

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” – Psalm 127:3 (NLT)

The reward of our patience, of our faith and of our prayers is named Jonathan. And sometimes, the best gifts come wrapped in blankets with tiny multi-colored feet on them.

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Four Months

Jonathan Michael Photo by Debi Emory Photography

Jonathan Michael
Photos by Debi Emory Photography

Four months into our sweet boy’s life and he continues to amaze me every day. He’s gone from 6 pounds, 3 ounces of squishy newborn to a 12 pound, 11.4 ounce bundle of energy and joy. He loves to play with his daddy and I, his laugh and toothless smile melting our hearts every time. I will honestly miss these toothless days when he gets his first tooth. Though I’m sure I’ll fall in love with his toothy grin, too. The squeals that come from a good bounce on the bed are priceless and it is impossible not to feel instantly happier when hearing them. The sheer number of expressions this baby has is amazing. I might be totally biased but I think he’s the most expressive and most hilarious baby I’ve had contact with.

Since his birth, our focus has been to enjoy each stage of his precious life as we are in it. Though it’s easy to think “I can’t wait until he crawls/walks/plays t-ball,” there’s no limit to the fun things he does now. He’s currently trying to put everything in his mouth, including his hands, our fingers, his stuffed dragon, and the toys on his play gym. He tried rice cereal for the first time yesterday and I think that once he gets the hang of the spoon, he’ll enjoy it. He does pushups during tummy time, like a true Rabon. Though he still gets up once at night to eat, he’s generally an easy baby. He had about a week there that he slept for 7-8 hours at night and I hope that we’ll soon get back to that.

He’s gotten over his aversion to diaper changes and putting clothes over his head. Now he giggles and smiles as we do both. I hope that he’ll soon do the same with burping, which is currently public enemy number one (though it’s likely he’s more upset that we “took his food away” instead of the act of burping itself).

At his four month well-baby checkup, he aced all of the developmental checks. When the doctor checked his grip, she couldn’t get her little mug back from him! He can track well with his eyes (especially when Daddy walks by!) and holds his head up like a champ. He’d stand all day if I would hold him up all day. He rolls over from belly to back (mainly to escape tummy time) and can roll from his back to his side. It won’t be long before he goes from back to belly. It seems like he masters a new thing overnight sometimes.

He still loves music and he and I have started listening to the classical station on Pandora. He likes when I move his arms like he’s conducting the orchestra.

In the last month, he’s traveled through 7 states, 3 airports and many vehicles to meet his family. We’re so blessed to have so much family and so many friends who have prayed for him since before he was born and who will continue to speak into his life as he grows.

 

Our Family Photo by Debi Emory Photography

Our Family
Photo by Debi Emory Photography

While we were in California, we had some family pictures taken. I’m so happy to have these to look back on and remember this special time in his life and our lives. He’s such an amazing addition to our family. Seeing the way Stephen loves Jonathan makes me love my husband even more. And Jonathan just lights up when he sees Stephen. It’s such a precious bond that they have! With Stephen working and me staying home with Jonathan, it’s been really important to me that they get special time together. He’s definitely a Daddy’s boy!

 

I've always thought kids wearing their daddy's jersey is so cute. So happy to make it a reality in our home!

I’ve always thought kids wearing their daddy’s jersey was so cute. So happy to make it a reality in our home!

 

I’ve finally come to the point where I’m ready to work on myself after having a baby. Stephen and I have devised an eating and workout plan for me to get back in shape. I’m putting it out here into the world so that I will have accountability. Hey, that’s how I got through my juice fast, and even how I went skydiving even though I was kind of scared. Once it’s out in the world, I can’t chicken out. Speaking of chicken…

Our diet will be heavily chicken-based. Chicken, rice, veggies, salads, baked potatoes and grilled foods. I have a cheat day built in (Mondays are softball and we usually eat out with the team afterward). We’ve actually been eating this way for about a week now and so far so good. Though keeping chicken interesting should be the biggest challenge. I found a fajita seasoning recipe online that we tried yesterday and liked, so I’ll be on the lookout for more seasonings, rubs and marinades that are healthy. Suggestions are welcome! I’m also giving up soda for the 90 days, so no more of my beloved Dr. Pepper that I’ve become accustomed to postpartum.

For workouts, Stephen is programming a regimen of Crossfit-esque workouts that I can do in our home gym and that are designed for my skill level . It’s pretty handy that Stephen and Dan have transformed our garage into a Crossift mini-box. We have an olympic lifting platform, a barbell with weights from 10-45lbs each, boxes for box jumps, a pull-up bar, rings, jump ropes, a 20-lb. wall ball, and hand stand pushup area. Not that I can actually do all of those, but they’re available. The mixture of cardio, lifting and body weight movements should help me to get the results that I want. What do I want? Sure, I want to lose the last of the baby weight. But more than that, I want to be healthy and I want to be fit. I want to be able to keep up with Jonathan as he grows and to feel better in my own skin. The plan is to do WODs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, rest on Friday, do WODs Saturday and Sunday with a rest day on Monday (also due to softball). The plan is to do a 90 day program, with check ins for weight and measurements after each 30 days. I’ll also do the same workout each 30 days to see how I’ve improved. 3 days in and although I’m quite sore, I’m feeling good. The nice thing about this system is variety. And since I don’t know what my workout will be until it happens, it keeps me on my toes.

Hopefully in 30 days I’ll have lots of good progress to report.

 

 

Three Months

Jonathan Michael 3 months April 2014

Jonathan Michael
3 months
April 2014

When people tell you not to blink or your children will be grown, they are not kidding. The moment you give birth to a child, time speeds up exponentially. The last three months of my life have been three of the absolute best, but also the fastest, of my life. Being a mother is so much better than I could have imagined. This sweet boy brings so much joy to every day, even at 2 or 3 am. When I’m feeling particularly grumpy at these hours, all he has to do is look up at me with that big toothless grin and everything is right in the world again.

This grin occurred during a conversation about how much we love Daddy

This grin occurred during a conversation about how much we love Daddy

I decided to compile a list of some of our favorite things during these first three months.

 

Medela Nipple Shield: As I referenced in an earlier post, breastfeeding did not come easy for Jonathan and I. Tired and frustrated by the 3-step feeding system the hospital suggested due to his weight loss (try to nurse, pump, feed him what was pumped and then supplement with formula – a process that took about an hour, to be repeated every 3 hours, not to mention washing all of the pumping equipment), I decided on a whim at Target to purchase a nipple shield. It’s not like it could make things harder, right? It made everything BETTER. The very first time that we used it, he was able to nurse. And since then, we’ve been able to primarily nurse. Being able to breastfeed was important to me and I had a hard time accepting that we couldn’t do it well. This was a game-changer.

 

Mixie:  Though we do primarily breastfeed, we also give Jonathan some formula. Being unable to quantify how much he eats when he nurses, I will sometimes top him off with a couple ounces of formula if he still seems hungry but is pulling off the breast. This is also helpful at bed time to give him a really full belly to sleep longer. On the go, we like to have a bottle in the diaper bag just in case our errands take a bit longer than planned. Enter the Mixie. My best friend saw this online and I went out and bought it the next day. This is super easy to pre-fill at the house (the formula powder is pre-measured in the middle compartment and released by the push of a button to mix with the water) and have if we need it. We also like to take one upstairs when we go to bed. This has been such a help to us that we now have two. With an upcoming cross-country road trip in a few days, the Mixie will no doubt be of great use.

We got the 8-ozer because let’s face it, he won’t be getting any smaller…

Also, as a tip: if you follow the links on Mixie’s website, you can find places online that sell them for $16.99-19.99. I suggest using their store locator function to find a local place that might sell them. I found a great little boutique in a neighboring town that sells the 8-oz bottle for $9.50. That’s half the online price. Well worth a 10 minute drive. It comes with a stage 2 nipple, which was a bit too fast of a flow for Little Man. They’re compatible with Dr. Brown’s wide neck nipples, so for $5 at Target we were able to purchase two level one nipples and problem solved!

 

Bright Starts Activity Gym: Because my son is a Rabon, and Rabons love to work out, this baby gym from his Nani was an instant hit. He loves chatting it up with the elephant (who also plays music), staring at the cute baby in the mirror and giggling as he explores the use of his arms to reach the toys. He can self-entertain, which allows mom to eat a bowl of cereal with two hands!

 

“Daddy’s Little Hero” outfit: My husband’s idea of the ideal baby outfit is a one piece outfit that doesn’t have to go over Jonathan’s head with footies and a zipper (not snaps, not buttons). We were given this adorable outfit by Stephen’s Aunt Cathy and it has quickly become a favorite. When we limited access to his hands due to the removal of a skin tag from his right hand, the built in mittens were a Godsend. Is it bad that I want to order it in EVERY size available?

Yay! Fire trucks!

Yay! Fire trucks!

Bouncy chair: Ah, the bouncy chair. Allowing mama to shower and get ready with a happy baby in tow. Also helpful? The music function of my iPhone. This baby likes to boogie while mama showers.

 

Daddy: Sure, he’s been my favorite guy for 7+ years now, but this baby loves his daddy! When he hears the door open when Stephen gets home from work, he instantly starts looking all around to find him. Stephen makes a face and he starts smiling right away.

Daddy saying goodbye before work makes Jonathan smile so big!

Daddy saying goodbye before work makes Jonathan smile so big!

It’s SO precious to watch these two interact! “Man time,” as we call it, is one of Jonathan’s favorite activities and absolutely melts this mama’s heart.

 

Here are a few pictures from his 3 month/Easter photo shoot:

Precious boy in his bunny outfit from Mama Carmen

Precious boy in his bunny outfit from Mama Carmen

Adidas track suit (just like Daddy) from Auntie Nikki & Uncle Aaron Handmade rocking chair made by Great Grandpa Rabon

Adidas track suit (just like Daddy) from Auntie Nikki & Uncle Aaron
Handmade rocking chair made by Great Grandpa Rabon

I can't get over these eyes! (Or his silly faces)

I can’t get over these eyes! (Or his silly faces)

And that’s another favorite of mine: monthly photo shoots with my boy and his chalkboard! So thankful my sweet husband got me a nice camera for my birthday a couple years ago, knowing that we’d have a baby soon and my picture taking habit would reach new levels.

 

Blessed and ever-so-thankful,

Amanda

Our Journey to Parenthood

This blog was written by me for cord, an online community dedicated to connecting women through stories of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and more. It can be found in that original format here. Cord seeks to unite women from all walks of life and locations through the shared experience of motherhood, so please check out their site and possibly share your story.

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Our sweet boy at 2 months

Our sweet boy at 2 months

 

Infertility.  It’s a word that we have all heard, yet no one really talks about. To be honest, prior to trying to have children, I didn’t really fully understand the definition of what it meant to be infertile. I mistakenly thought that infertility and sterility were interchangeable terms.

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse (six months if the woman is over age 35) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth.

When Stephen and I were engaged and preparing for our wedding, we agreed that we would wait until after we had been married at least a year before we started trying to have children. It was important to us to have a solid foundation in our marriage before we introduced children into the mix. After celebrating our one year wedding anniversary in April 2011, we decided that when my birth control prescription ran out in July we would not renew it. I had my annual ob-gyn check up scheduled for July and figured that I would discuss how best to proceed with my doctor while there.

Young and naive, I assumed that getting pregnant would be an almost instantaneous thing. After all, if it wasn’t easy to get pregnant, why on earth was I taking birth control to prevent it? Everyone I knew got pregnant just by looking at each other. After the first two months of not getting pregnant, I was already starting to get impatient. When my period arrived the second month, I felt defeated. Stephen could tell that I was starting to make an emotional shift and assured me that we just needed a little more time. On October 27, 2011, just 3 months after stopping my birth control, we discovered that we were pregnant. I literally jumped up and down when the pregnancy test was positive. We immediately called our families and closest friends and spread the word. On December 4, 2011, after a series of doctor’s appointments in which we both found and lost hope, I miscarried our first child.

Miscarriage is a devastating process. The myriad of emotions that accompany the loss of a child range from sadness to anger, jealousy to shame. Few in my family had ever miscarried and though they all offered their love and support, it was a process that Stephen and I had to navigate on our own and it greatly tested our faith. We decided that once my cycle returned, we would begin to try for a child again.

After my cycle returned in January 2012, we continued to try for a child. After a few months with no success and continued disappointment, we decided to try using ovulation predictor kits to maximize our chances of hitting the ovulation sweet spot. For the record, peeing on a stick and getting a positive pregnancy test is awesome. Peeing on a stick on a regular basis and still not getting a baby is disheartening.

Summer came, but a baby did not. When our baby’s July due date came and went, the doubt and fear started taking hold.

What if there’s something wrong with me?

Fully convinced that if there was something wrong, it was my fault, not Stephen’s, I tried to hold on to hope that we would get pregnant soon. Or ever. Stephen assured me that I wasn’t “broken,” but everything felt like it was pointing to it. When time came for my annual visit that month, I refused to go. I did not want to enter that office again unless it was for a positive reason. I was terrified that I would find out that there was something wrong with my body. I was afraid that infertile meant sterile.

During that time, a couple of my friends introduced me to the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Though a rather lengthy tome, I read the whole thing in one sitting. I began charting my cycle in August 2012. The steps were fairly simple to follow and I felt like I learned a lot about my body and the way it functioned monthly. Armed with this knowledge, I felt confident that I would be able to take practical steps to increase our likelihood of conceiving. I felt that I would be able to speak with authority about my personal process of ovulation and could refer to my charts if we were to involve a doctor in our struggle.

December came and the one year anniversary of my miscarriage brought another reminder of our inability to get pregnant. At this time we had to come to grips with the fact that come January, a full year had passed since our last pregnancy. A full year of trying to conceive without success.

Diagnosis: Secondary Infertility.

Secondary infertility, unlike primary infertility, refers to a couple who have previously had a pregnancy.

Knowing that medical procedures to determine the root cause of infertility are often invasive, embarrassing and/or uncomfortable, not to mention expensive, we knew that we had to make a drastic change in our lives if we wanted to be able to help our situation without intervention.

We went down the list of possible risk factors for infertility. Though young and generally healthy, I was technically overweight according to BMI. My job wasn’t always the easiest and stress could definitely be a factor (as if the stress and pressure of being unable to get pregnant wasn’t enough). Stephen, on multiple occasions, told me that if I thought quitting my job would help, he would stand behind that decision.

We decided that a drastic change in our lifestyle was the last natural thing that we could do before going to medical measures. In January, we really focused on our eating habits and physical health. Stephen started doing p90x and I began to run again. After going on a huge documentary binge, we started to add juicing to our health regimen. I began to eat foods that I don’t like, knowing that they were good for my body and a potential baby (eggs and milk among the top choices). I felt that I could not allow myself to take the next step medically without first exhausting every option that I could control.

Two months later, in March 2013, we discovered we were pregnant again after 14 months of being unable to conceive. This was a victory for us to know that our infertility was not a permanent condition. Though thrilled, we were cautious. We didn’t tell anyone that we were pregnant. About a week after we got the positive pregnancy test, I began to bleed. A trip to the doctor confirmed that I was miscarrying our second child. At this point we reached out to our families and close friends for prayers. Our doctor, having suffered four miscarriages herself before having her twin boys, encouraged us and told us that we would be able to have children. It might be harder for us than for other people, but that she was willing to do whatever it took to help us. After two miscarriages, she said that it would be likely that our insurance would cover a full work up to determine the cause of the miscarriages. She said that the next time I got pregnant, she would recommend that I start taking progesterone immediately to see if it would help the baby to attach to the uterine wall more securely. She also said that once we started trying again, I should do a regimen of baby aspirin to help avoid clotting, as that could be a factor.

Going home defeated again, we had some decisions to make regarding how to proceed. Intimidated by the possibility of invasive testing, I really wanted to avoid having to go that route. Having just watched “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead,” I decided to go on a 10-day juice fast to reset my mind and body from the damage of two failed pregnancies. April 8-17, I lived solely on freshly juiced drinks. Pumping my body full of pure nutrition and using that time as period of spiritual reflection as well, I began to build my body and soul back up for the coming decisions.

When my cycle returned, we began “trying” again, though not very fervently. I didn’t track my cycle that closely and we decided to give my body just a couple more months before strongly considering getting testing done.

But, we didn’t have to have that conversation. Just a few weeks later, after charting eighteen high basal body temperatures post-ovulation, I took a pregnancy test to confirm what I already knew. We were pregnant.

On January 17th, 2014, Jonathan Michael Rabon came into this world. Two and a half years after we first began trying for a child, we finally got to hold our baby. Though the time spent trying to have a child were some of the darkest of our lives, our marriage came out stronger on the other end. Our faith was tested, but God’s faithfulness prevailed.