Claire Anne Henry – a birth story

Today, on this first day of summer, I was scheduled to have an induction at 11:00am. I can’t even tell you how grateful I am to have not made it to today still pregnant!

I don’t regret anything about Theo’s birth, but I had some different hopes for Claire’s labor and delivery and I’m so grateful to be able to say that nearly all of them came to be!

Firstly, I really wanted to go into labor naturally, to experience my body starting the process of birth. I feel like I worked so hard to help make it happen over the last weeks of pregnancy, with the looming induction date, trying everything from red raspberry leaf tea to castor oil, which is actually the thing that ended up sending us to the hospital at 3am for what we thought could be early labor, but the contractions eventually died out and we were sent home. Despite my attention to making it happen, and even the indications from my body that it was happening, and perhaps due to how I had no labor indications with Theo whatsoever right up to my induction date, doubt of it being possible to go into labor on my own, and it actually be the real thing, lingered in my mind up till the point we were even admitted to the hospital for real labor! But it really did happen!

Along with going into labor, I also hoped to be able to feel my water break on its own. Mostly just out of curiosity. They broke my water with Theo pretty quickly, so I assumed that the midwives I was with this time around would suggest breaking it pretty early on, but they were so relaxed and so willing to just wait and let my body work on its own and sure enough while lying on my side after a particular contraction I felt an ever so slight pop inside and a second of pause just long enough for me to think, ‘could that be my water breaking’ before the tell tale giant gush of fluid indicating my water did indeed break on its own! 

While I still opted for an epidural and even got some pitocin to regulate contractions midway through labor, by the time active labor and pushing began the epidural had accidentally worn off almost completely, despite valiant effort to keep it working, and the pitocin was shut off because my body had caught up on its own and the pitocin was stacking the contractions unnecessarily. With the epidural worn off, I can’t even put into words the amount of pain I was in during active labor and pushing. Perhaps because of Claire’s position, perhaps because I wasn’t expecting to have to cope with the pain, but my body felt like it was being literally burnt and crushed at once and while I felt on the edge of hysterical, somehow I was able to connect enough with my body to stay on track and push for no more than 20 minutes, with no tearing or episiotomy, to get Claire out and despite the absolutely overwhelming feeling of painful pressure felt with every push I still loved it and pushing my babies into the world will forever be my favorite part of both my labors. 

I never got immediate skin to skin with Theo, no delayed cord clamping like we hoped for and Justin wasn’t able to cut the umbilical cord with him either. This time around though we were blessed to have it all! Claire was laid on me for at least 10 minutes immediately following her birth, her cord stayed attached for at least 7 minutes, if not longer, and we were asked directly before they even considered cutting it and when he did, Justin cut it in one try which we were told was sort of rare and that it normally takes the dad’s a couple tries because the cord is so squishy. 

After I delivered the placenta I asked to be able to see it and the midwife excitedly laid it all out and showed us all its parts from where it was connected to me, to the sac and the umbilical cord connection. Is it strange to be proud of her describing Claire’s cord as thick and juicy?

After Theo I was stitched, sore, feverish, exhausted, dizzy, couldn’t walk on my own, couldn’t pee on my own, couldn’t even move in bed without almost crying from the pain. After Claire I’ve felt tired for sure and even went on less sleep than after delivering Theo, but I also feel SO much stronger as well. Not tearing and not being given an episiotomy has made this recovery so wonderfully different. No mess of stitches makes standing, walking, shifting, just moving in general already so easy again and nearly ache and pain free. I took at least three pain medications for weeks after Theo and this time I’ve taken just Motrin since giving birth. I also had to stay in the hospital longer after Theo because I could not pee on my own after getting the catheter with the epidural, something I was worried about happening this time around too. Maybe it’s because the epidural didn’t actually work, but I have had no trouble this time around which has been so amazing and to me even group text update worthy at the time and as my mother said, ‘Amazing how thankful one can be for peeing on their own’ because I truly am indeed!

We spent 5 days in the hospital with Theo, were discharged in the middle of the night without almost no heads up and sent home with a warning that Theo could still have an infection. He didn’t, but the entire experience was so overwhelming and even scary at times and by the time we got home Justin had only two days with us before needing to go back to work. With Claire we left just over 30 hours after she was born and this time around Justin gets to spend a full 5 days with us three before needing to go back to work! 

The entire birth experience has been so unique and different, even in some ways a little harder, than Theo’s and yet I’ve loved the differences. Above all else I am so thankful for the health and safety that Claire and I both have and maintained throughout the pregnancy, labor and delivery!

If you’ve followed my posts during this pregnancy you’ll know it took me a long time to feel a connection with Claire while she was inside, even up till her birth I still felt a certain lacking, and then she was born and suddenly I knew a connection I didn’t expect and in some ways didn’t even feel with Theo. I keep trying to describe it to Justin and have no idea if it’s because Claire’s a girl, but my connection with her is wholly unique and different than one I’ve felt before which also makes me think my connection with Theo must have been just as unique to him I just didn’t have anything to compare it to! It is like an entirely different part of my heart opened up that’s just for Claire, specific and unique to her, and somehow in no way interfering or taking anything away from Theo. The thought really holds true that the love doesn’t split, but simply multiplies. 

It all feels so right and good to be the four of us together and I’m so glad to be home and safe and healthy and able to be completely present as we embark on our future new normal. 

Our hearts are glad. 

Respectful Parenting 


I’ve been meaning to compile the following list of articles I’ve come across that, over the past few months, have inspired and affirmed many parenting techniques that Justin and I choose to parent by. 

Authoritative, not authoritarian or permissive, parenting is so quickly misinterpreted or misrepresented by so many people and it’s always nice coming across cohesive articles that mostly relate the parenting style in a clear and concise way. I offer the articles to you for your consideration and would love to hear your thoughts or responses to them. I’m sure there may be bits and pieces of each that Justin and I don’t fully support, but through my reading of them I’ve found them mostly aligning with our thoughts and perspective on parenting. We are truly intrigued by the task of parenting and are so invested in researching and understanding the purpose behind what we’re doing and also deeply desire to give Theo, and soon Claire, the respect and understanding that they deserve as human beings and provide them a place of honesty, expression and support in a home. 

Many people can accuse us of being idealistic, like we expect to be the perfect parents and have somehow solved all the parenting issues since time began, one of the many misinterpretations of authoritative parenting, however we are fully aware of our downfalls and believe there will be many mistakes made along the way, but that doesn’t change our desire to rewrite and write from our own experiences and move forward with the most optimistic outlook! 

We love parenting Theo and we love to see him thrive with the patterns we currently have in place, it’s one of the greatest gifts to see your child feel safe enough to express themselves, strong enough to face new possibilities, and secure enough to come to you when they are feeling they need you knowing that they will be received with understanding and respect specific to them and who they are and who they are growing to be.

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I’ll actually start by recommending the book that ended up being the springboard into the parenting style Justin and I pursued and that book was ‘Bringing Up Bebe’ by Pamela Druckerman. As I think back on the book in its entirety I realized that there are parts we didn’t end up applying, but the foundational piece of regarding your child, from the moment of birth, as a complete and cognizant human being deserving of respect and communication was such a huge eye opening perspective to put into place and build off of that I can’t help but recommend it as one of the best parenting resources out there!

But now on to the articles! 

They Raise the Worlds Happiest Children 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/family/raise-worlds-happiest-children-time-went-dutch/

‘After examining the temperamental differences between babies born in the US and the Netherlands, Dutch babies were found to be more contented – laughing, smiling and cuddling more – than American babies. Dutch babies were also easier to soothe, while American babies displayed more fear, sadness and frustration. Psychologists attribute this discrepancy to the different cultural mores of child-rearing in the two countries.’

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Stress in Babies 

http://www.parentingscience.com/stress-in-babies.html

‘For instance, parents who show higher levels of sensitivity tend to have babies with lower baseline cortisol levels (Blair et al 2006). And it’s the infants born with “difficult,” easily-distressed temperaments that seem to benefit the most.’

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Less Really is More 

https://www.mother.ly/child/less-really-is-more-how-to-parent-like-a-minimalist

Every generation wants to give their children more than they had themselves. My intention was no different—I wanted to give my children more. More love. More protection. More opportunities. More toys.

More, more, more.

This desire for ‘more’ was rooted in love’

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Christians and Spanking Culture 

http://time.com/3707120/christians-spank-culture/?iid=time_readnext

The idea that not spanking is some sort of easy, overly lenient parental response is baffling to me. It would be much simpler to smack my kids every time they did something wrong (especially when I’m angry at them) than it is to consistently treat them like human beings deserving of the same respect that I believe I’m entitled to.’

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No Bad Kids – Toddler Discipline 

http://www.janetlansbury.com/2010/04/no-bad-kids-toddler-discipline-without-shame-9-guidelines/ 

A toddler acting out is not shameful, nor is it behavior that needs punishing. It’s a cry for attention, a shout-out for sleep, or a call to action for firmer, more consistent limits. It is the push-pull of our toddler testing his burgeoning independence. He has the overwhelming impulse to step out of bounds, while also desperately needing to know he is securely reined in. There is no question that children need discipline. As infant expert Magda Gerber said, “Lack of discipline is not kindness, it is neglect.’

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10 Ways Kids Appear to be Acting Bad, but aren’t

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/joyful-parenting/201705/not-naughty-10-ways-kids-appear-be-acting-bad-arent

When we recognize kids’ unwelcome behaviors as reactions to environmental conditions, developmental phases, or our own actions, it lets us respond proactively, and with much more compassion.’

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When Your Toddler is Stalling

http://www.janetlansbury.com/2013/12/when-your-toddler-is-stalling-more-problems-with-gentle-discipline/

She is definitely exploring her power in these situations… and I imagine she senses your annoyance, which makes this even more of an interesting experiment for her. So, I would differentiate for yourself between the times it doesn’t matter to you and the times when you don’t want to wait for her. When it’s something you don’t mind waiting for, totally let it go… and say something like, “Just let me know when you’re ready (to change her diaper, get dressed, take a bath, etc.), I’ll be here with my book (or in the kitchen, etc.)” Or you could decide to tag along with her while she dawdles, while letting go of your agenda completely. Either way, you will be very relaxed waiting, which will disempower the stalling and also give her the chance to be the one to say “I’m ready”.’

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The One Thing Parents Can Do To Make the Morning Smoother 

https://www.parent.co/one-thing-parents-can-make-mornings-smoother-according-science/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=SocialWarfare

She’s on the floor, crying and flailing her arms before I can finish saying “snow boots.” We are running late (again) but I take a minute to lock the bathroom door, turn the vent on, and cry. Why is this is hard? What am I doing wrong?

According to experts, my error is obvious. I’ve forgotten to start the day with connection.

Instead of “making a deposit” in my child’s bank – in the form of cuddles, reading to her, or even asking how she slept, I’ve attempted to make a number of “withdrawals.” I’ve forgotten that my daughter’s brain is just not wired to accommodate that.’

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How to Respond When Your Child is Disrespectful 

https://imperfectfamilies.com/how-to-respond-when-your-child-is-disrespectful/

As parents, we definitely need to teach our children how to treat others with kindness, and how to communicate big feelings without being disrespectful.

Unfortunately, we cannot teach them to be respectful in the heat of the moment.

I know you WANT to deal with it right then and there.

But, once your child is angry, disappointed, frustrated, or upset, the thinking part of their brain has shut down. They are in survival mode. Their body is flooded with stress chemicals and they are not able to hear and process the lessons you are trying to teach.’

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Respectful Parenting is NOT a Trend

http://www.racheous.com/respectful-parenting/respectful-parenting-trend/

No child is going to grow up wishing they were shown less respect. No adult thinks “boy I wish I was talked down to more and treated like I was inferior“. No one is wishing they were punished for being a child and still learning. 

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It’s Hard for Them Too

http://boston.citymomsblog.com/motherhood/its-hard-for-them-too/

For starters, think about being told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it — endlessly. Eat this thing that you’ve never seen before. Don’t make a rude face (what does rude mean?). It’s time to go somewhere you don’t want to go, and hurry, hurry, hurry to meet an arbitrary timeline that means nothing to you.

Imagine failing as much as a young child does. Not being able to make your hands move the right way to cut the paper, stumbling as you run across the lawn, spilling the milk you so desperately wanted to pour (and here I am, exasperated with him again).’

A Photograph’s Feelings

Double EditThis week I watched the documentary Finding Vivian Maier, it’s on Netflix and I would highly recommend it! Through watching it I came to some conclusions regarding photography that I have been seeking for some time now, mainly, the affirmation that the realness and ‘actual momentness’ of her photography was the exact thing I hoped to capture myself, the greatest reason why portrait photography including weddings, engagements, senior portraits, family portraits, etc, never felt fulfilling to me.

I was initially struck by the style and fashion of her photography, I believe perhaps most supplied by her shooting with film, as being one that really enhanced the story being told. It made me wonder if the digitalized, pretty edits of many of today’s photographs actually distract at times from the story being told because you could mostly see just that, the pretty. This thought may rely heavily on the notion of my generation that many retro/dated things can be more authentic sometimes, but it was one that I wanted to explore nonetheless. My hope is to begin shooting actual film, but the budget is not quite in favor of that effort at this point, however I would not be deterred in the moment and the concept began forming in my mind of continuing to shoot with my digital camera and then very intentionally editing the photos in a film/old style to see if it made them communicate something different than if they were edited in the bright or ‘pretty’ way that I would normally edit.

Along with the style of Vivian Maier’s work I also observed a sense of reality. As a portrait photographer you are generally expected to not choose the ‘in between shots’ as I call them, but rather the ones that are as near perfect, to you and the client, as you can get them. It’s less about showing the reality and more about showing the best. To be clear, capturing the best, or wanting your best captured, is not something I hold against photographers and subjects. It’s a natural desire and also part of photography in general as you work to compose and capture things in a way that is pleasing to the eye. However, my core is fascinated with the in between photographs and I just couldn’t escape the sense of freedom and determination by which Vivian seemed to be able to capture the moments that no client would pay someone to capture. My love for this style puts me in an interesting position as it doesn’t provide much support by photography to make money many times a very practical push to keep photographing and learning, clients don’t come readily when you don’t promise pretty, but I just can’t be moved in my desire to pursue the concept so I have to rely on my resolve alone to discover and shoot more, something I have grown out of practice with since my self-portrait days.

During the age of self-portraits I would shoot constantly, my drive pushed me to be more creative and I loved that age of inspiration so terribly much. As I grew older however I began to get more concise with my photography. I began to grow tired of creating so many moments and wanted to simply capture what moments were already happening. I began a blog and documented years through it with the help of photography, but then even that began to feel like too much, how many daily moments really needed to be captured anyway? I began to lose my footing with photography even more and eventually just let it be whatever I wanted it to be when I felt like it, no overall structure or drive, just momentary inspiration. I don’t think it was a bad thing to do, it brought many years of creative confusion for me as I pondered over and over what my thoughts were on the subject. I believe I needed, and perhaps still need some more of, that confusion though because it’s allowing me to be inspired by what naturally inspires me instead of just the specific things I believe inspiration were drawn from that I kept interacting with and consequently giving me actual, internally solidified, thoughts and conclusions about photography as it pertains to me and my intentions.

All of these thoughts pushed me to begin a personal project and space of photography evaluation, still private as of yet because there is no theme to it, perhaps supplying some confusion to someone simply observing it, for me though it’s a study of portraits I’ve taken and will continue to take and how I feel about them, an effort to capitalize on this clarity of thought I’ve gained through watching the documentary.

In conclusion, I have a question for you. Consider the photographs above if you will and really consider them. Look at them one at a time. Look at the light. Look at the faces. And tell me, do you feel that they tell a different story? Do you feel the authenticity of the moment in the same way through both, or does one make you feel something more? Do the different edits change your perception of the people in the photographs at all? Do you envy or idealize one more than the other? Would you say you are distracted by either edit in some way? Or are they simply two different edits, each supplying the same message?

A Generation of Talk

img_4112The following is a relatively intense critique of my generation and the current world we live in. Slightly fragmented thoughts that have come to mind after different conversations I’ve had regarding the topic over the past 6 months. While posting this may support many of the negative aspects I critique below I admit to being a part of this generation and still attempting to learn the correct balance of share, don’t share when it comes to my thoughts and the correct platform to do so. I will definitely affirm that our generation is not completely lacking in its positive aspects, the below however is admittedly meant to be a one sided commentary on the many negatives that can be overwhelming in their presence.

We are a generation of talk.
Of Twitter wars and Facebook rants.
No topic whether political, religious, personal or public is too sacred to spread out thinly across the wide advance of the World Wide Web simply because we feel we have no other outlet.
We are too quick to believe our epiphanies are of a public importance and rarely even practice the art of privately working through a thought process before publicizing it, let alone not posting anything at all.
We are mean, rude, self righteous, indulgent, and over confident and compose our understandings, whether taken from others or not, in a way that makes us feel most comfortable and yet also most revolutionary.
We challenge those who stand idly by, and yet don’t even think that our own words, our own actions, could be muddling things up even worse than they already are.
We do not listen to hear, but to simply pull bits to better support our original thoughts so as to continue to challenge the opposite.
We are incapable of giving advice well because, while advice should simply be the telling of our own story without the expectation for others to affirm or replicate it, we are too busy trying to write everyone else’s life story for them according to our own convictions.
While impassioned with a desire to revive a world gone wrong we confuse change with a deep, hateful perspective on anything previously done.
We are built on angst and affirmation.
Validation.
Nothing is wrong and everything is wrong.
We live in a dichotomy and call it progressive
There is no time and place because everything has become OUR time and OUR place.
We do not understand respect and dignity, but rather demand respect and confuse dignity with false humility as we trudge through our days tirelessly working to educate others on our, self proclaimed, sensational, thoughts.
We are constantly offended and demand political correctness in every context, most times not even willing to take into account human error.
We are convinced of our need to share our revelations as to inspire others to agree with us, despite it only ever resulting in being patted on the back by those who already agreed with us to begin with.
We gather those around us who ‘like’ and adhere to our specific beliefs like a fortress, ready to flatter and rationalize our tactics and routines when we might feel a crackling tinge of the realistically underlying codependent relationship among us.
Position and tradition mean something to us only until we feel like a line has been crossed according to our personal standards.
Our backbone is built from the tedious efforts to coddle our processes and create authentic experiences.
We say we’ll talk about anything but really just talk a lot about nothing.
And while we should not be silenced,
we must learn to be silent.

A Snowy Christmas Tree for 2016

Processed with VSCO with q3 preset

In an effort to have a simple, baby proof, Christmas tree this year, free of ornament hooks and glass, I decided that we would simply make paper snowflakes from coffee filters and decorate with those and a few strands of white lights and then once I saw our little red bows we had from past years I couldn’t resist putting those on the tree as well 🙂

The other night, as Justin and I sat at the dining room table making snowflake after snowflake, I realized how little I minded the fact that we have gone out on just one hour long date since Theo was born. A lot of people will strongly emphasize going out and being intentional about dating once you have a baby, but I’m realizing that, while making sure to keep your relationship with your spouse a priority is definitely important, it will look different for each couple. It seems that for Justin and I we naturally prefer to just be together at home, maybe that will change over time, but Theo sleeps so well and goes to bed at 7:00 which leaves us hours each night to date at home where we are comfortable and relaxed and, best of all, it’s free 🙂 I’ve felt self conscious in the past over how Justin and I prefer to live life sometimes, like we might be doing something wrong because from the outside it might not be obvious that we prioritize our relationship from the lacking trips, and dates, and public displays of affection but, while it’s taken a few years, I’ve come to rejoice so much more in what we love and what we enjoy and what means most to us, despite it not being the obvious choice many times. Don’t mean to rabbit trail that much off of decorating for Christmas, but it was all just interesting  to mull over as we snipped away at the coffee filters and enjoyed some quality time together in our little home. 🙂

Last night we were able to bring the baby proof tree to life and while it’s a bit crooked from not being able to fit all the branches on the back and tethering it against the wall so Theo couldn’t pull it at all, I think it’s just the perfect tree for us right now and if we’re being honest, what tree doesn’t just always look perfect when it’s covered in sparkly Christmas lights!

We ended up keeping Theo up a bit later so he could ‘participate’ with the decorating, which mostly meant him stealing the smaller tree branches and stock piling them in the kitchen or pulling all the candy canes out of their boxes, haha, but he loved seeing the finished product and I loved seeing his little face as he discovered the wonder that is a Christmas tree!

Today as he sat at the bottom of the Christmas tree, every once and a while rubbing his face up against the branches and laughing to himself as they tickled his cheeks and forehead, I thought about how the holidays last year were such a blur with Theo being so little and how I keep feeling like this is his first Christmas, and despite it being his second, it’s almost like it is actually his first because he’s finally able to understand a little more and interact more with all the beautiful bits and pieces of the holidays!

Were going to be traveling a lot for the holidays this year, so we wanted to put the tree up a little early so we could enjoy it while we’re at home and so to sign off I give you our traditional decorating the tree family video finishing with a special open mouth kiss to you all from Theo himself. 🙂 Wishing you all such a beautiful and peaceful holiday season!

12 Months of Theo

theo-1-12-monthsToday Theo turns one.

I remember the day after we brought him home from the hospital I had laid him on the Boppy lounger in the living room. Justin had run out on a quick errand, there was Christmas music playing, cool winter light was shining clear and strong in through the windows and I stood in the kitchen and looked out at Theo, swaddled and peacefully sleeping, and I cried. Standing alone in the kitchen, I cried. Because what I had prayed and so deeply hoped for for so long was finally our new way of life and my heart was so very full of so much thankfulness and so much love.

Life with a baby, with children, is tough sometimes. It can be confusing and frustrating. I remember having to tell myself so many times in the beginning that Theo and I were on the same team. That he wasn’t trying to be difficult. He was just so new to everything. It’s easy to feel like you are battling against each other when you are trying to figure out what could be wrong, but really you are battling with each other. Working together to resolve the problem and restore rest. And by all accounts we really did have so much more rest than struggles in the beginning, and throughout the last 12 months, which I am very grateful for and do not take for granted. Looking back I mostly wish I would have felt more reassured that I would learn who Theo was. Learn his cries, his needs, his personality. People would say that they almost immediately knew the difference between their baby’s cries, but it took me months to figure out Theo’s. I remember wondering why Theo wasn’t necessarily reaching some milestones as quickly as other babies, smiling, rolling over, etc. And it took me far too long to just realize that it was all just part of his personality. That he was simply a slow and steady kind of boy and as soon as I let go of my expectations of who Theo would be, I found that I could rejoice more in who he was and I suddenly discovered parts of his personality I had never noticed before.

While I’ve pondered so many thoughts about motherhood and parenting in the past 12 months, I’ve also thought back over Theo’s birth story many times over the past year, both with pride and sometimes with uncertainty, basically an unsure feeling of how I should regard my birth of him. Today’s culture makes births like weddings, like they are almost the epitome of you, your greatest moment, your whole being wrapped up into one event. And while I truly believe that birth can be a natural and beautiful part of a woman’s life. I can honestly say my entire existence was not wrapped up in that moment. Not in the decision to be induced, not in that decision to get an epidural, not in the ability to have a vaginal birth. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems many times that you start off motherhood with an automatic grade of your mothering competence depending on your birth choices or experience. And I just feel that it’s too much weight to put on a single event in your life. I think that the conversation around birth is important and should be had, but I also think there’s a time to stop talking about it and just allow mothers to make peace with their decisions and circumstances so they can continue on to parent their child that they made and delivered, no matter the process.

At this point, to be honest with you, I am proud of my birth, despite there being no essential oils or mantras involved, no bathtub or immediate skin to skin, because who I am as a mother and who Theo is as my son extends so far beyond that moment.

Together we worked for his birth and together we work each day after growing our relationship!

And now today, he is one. A little boy. My little boy.

My heart outside my body.

My greatest challenge and my greatest joy.

I want so badly to somehow communicate to those without children the feeling of deep precious love you have for your own child. A love that just cannot be known or understood until you have a child of your own. People without children have said to me before that they want to have kids, but they are nervous about having a difficult child and I wish I could help them understand that the grace and love is still there, even when it’s difficult. That you’ll get upset, you’ll be tired, and you will be confused, but that love will still be there, filling out the ups and downs of being a parent and making it the most breathtaking, life changing, and worthwhile experience you may ever know.

Parenting isn’t for everyone. And I commend those who value and stick to their decision not to have children. Those who don’t have children are not living a lesser life, they are missing out on something, but just in the same way that those with children are missing out on a life without. For me, personally, I have always felt the deepest desire to be a mother and I still find myself in awe of the opportunity I have been given to be the mother to Theo.

Theo is, above all, incredibly sweet and easy going. While he still, since his very first one, hates baths almost completely, he is mostly patient and slow to tears with all else. He likes to say ‘dada’ as much as possible. Sometimes with a loud shout and sometimes in the quietest little whisper to himself. He also knows how to say ‘yeah’ and responds to questions with an emphatic ‘yeah’ like he almost realizes what he’s saying. He loves to read his books and can’t ever get enough music in his life. He has little brown curls all around his ears and back of his head and still just two of the cutest little teeth you’ve ever seen, although I can see that his top two teeth are so close to making an appearance. If he isn’t sick or over tired, he falls asleep quietly on his own after Justin reads him both a bible story and another rotating storybook and I’ve held him again one more time before I lay him in his crib. He’ll eat almost anything you give him, although he’s wary of the texture of broccoli and oranges, and is pretty neat with his food until he’s full and then decides all the rest belongs on the floor. He’s not at all a performer and while he picks up on skills and habits of those around him almost daily, he will not be prodded to reproduce them for others to see. He gets bashful if you are a stranger and notice him and loves to snuggle if he feels comfortable with you. Sometimes when he nurses he’ll grab my face with both his hands and pull it towards him to give me an open mouth kiss, it’s one of my favorite things of all time. He wears 24 month/2T size clothes now and stands as tall, if not taller, than most children 3-6 months older than him. He loves to walk around at the park, kicking his little toy ball in front of him and collecting particular leaves and rocks. He loves the wind and would be outside all day if he could just simply wandering. He looks more like Justin every day, but if you compare a photo of me as a baby to him you’ll see me in him too. He loves to be cozy and will snuggle his stuffed animals all day and come over to me and Justin for hugs regularly. He has so many different facial expressions and likes to go in and out of them all as he watches and understands things. When he drinks out of his cup he’ll often stare wide eyed at me, his big brown eyes almost communicating the focus he’s applying to drinking his water. He squeals with delight when Justin gets home, by far his favorite part of the day. He loves to play with keys and phones and gets the most upset when either are taken away from him. He likes to interact with things slowly, taking his time to understand them before moving forward. He still loves his pacifier, walks everywhere now, while still maintaining the super wide cowboy stance gait. He has the sweetest heart and a fiery stubborn streak that’s showing itself more each day and I love every bit of him!
There are so many other things I could say and mention, but I could be writing forever.

It’s been one of my greatest joys to discover who Theo is and who he’s becoming with each new day. He is a lesson in patience and a reminder to be present. He brings overwhelming happiness to my heart and I regard him as one of my greatest treasures. I am beyond blessed to be his mother and so in closing I give this blessing, this prayer, this dedication to Theo and with my whole heart beseech Jesus to comfort and care for his soul on this earth and for all of eternity.

‘Heavenly Father, you sent; your own Son into this world. We
thank you for the life of this child, Theodore, entrusted to our care.
Help us to remember that we are all your children, and so to
love and nurture him, that he may attain to that full stature
intended for him in your eternal kingdom; for the sake of
your dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Just a bit of decorating!
Just a bit of decorating!
A special birthday chalk board!
A special birthday chalk board!
A 1st birthday crown for a birthday boy!
A 1st birthday crown for a birthday boy!

Processed with VSCO with c5 presetProcessed with VSCO with c5 preset

Theo does not get being high up on the bed, so he always tries to crawl off, holding him like this maintains being the best way to keep him from falling, haha
Theo does not get being high up on the bed, so he always tries to crawl off, holding him like this maintains being the best way to keep him from falling, haha
A bit of an outtake
A bit of an outtake

Processed with VSCO with c5 presetimg_7052And to finish out this birthday post I give you the video of us, attempting, to sing Theo happy birthday and bringing about much different results than we expected. 🙂

I Voted for Hillary Clinton

collageApart from watching a few presidential debates between Romney and Obama, I have not been involved in any election before, so let’s just say this one has been quite the interesting first.

I watched and read and listened for months but it was really only after casting my vote, which I even debated doing at all, that I suddenly felt like what I was thinking might be worth saying out loud. Though I, in no way, believe what I’m about to say will convince anyone of anything other than that which they already have concluded on their own, and it’s somewhat exhausting to see so many desperate efforts to do so when I can’t imagine it has ever worked, I have mulled over whether or not I still wanted to publicly record my thoughts and decided it could be worth it, even if it’s merely for my own expression. As a quick disclaimer, I claim no deep alliance to either candidate’s position on all points of their campaign and this is actually mostly a commentary on how I’ve seen Christians interact with the options available to us.

So, here follows my first, and possibly only ever, rundown of thoughts on a US election.

Let’s begin with Donald Trump, shall we?

Overall, I am intrigued by how many Christians champion Trump to bring Christian values to America. I see no authentic evidence of his desire to uphold Christian morals and feel it must be at least mentioned that republican by no means translates to Christian. I would also never trust him to appoint anyone to any position in any capacity that would uphold the extent of the convictions that I hold to as a Christian, nor would his possible presidency make abortion, gay rights, and everything else that Christians seem to struggle with having be a fact in our country, suddenly go away. Those things were happening and fought for before they were legal and they’ll continue to happen and be fought for whoever the president is.

Trump aside however, I am also intrigued by how many Hillary supporters look past the honestly complicated, and at times questionable, past of Hillary Clinton and basically refuse to admit her at any fault. There really seems to be a lack of space to support her but still genuinely say that she did indeed mess up and disregard protocol and the depth of the results of certain decisions of hers. Which just seems to take down the authenticity of many supporting her because it seems like they refuse to recognize certain aspects of her history.

In regards to the similarities between the candidates?

Most of all they are both obvious liars.

Trump is a business man and a liar and Clinton is a politician and a liar. If Trump wins I fully believe him to, continue to, lie to our faces and if Clinton wins I fully believe her to, continue to, lie behind our backs. Either doing the opposite would be more shocking than what each is doing now. And it seems pointless to weigh that criticism against either of them to make a point because they both so clearly agree that it is many times a genuine way to conduct themselves.

Honestly, I believe that this is not an election for Christians, this is an election for Americans.

Because no matter who you are voting for, you are not voting for complete Christian beliefs because neither candidate upholds them. Choose the bits and pieces of Christian truth that each might incorporate into their platform, whether intentionally or not, and between you and God make your voting choice. But I refuse to uphold or condemn either candidate as a ‘Christian’ or ‘non-Christian’ choice.

I also condemn the thought that if I vote for Clinton I am suddenly pro-choice and if I had voted for Trump I am suddenly condoning sexual harassment.

Throughout the election I’ve mostly swung between being very interested and being more apathetic, but I can’t help but feel more than anything that the outcome doesn’t change very much no matter who wins, because America is never returning to the conservative, closer to Christian, beliefs that many seem to be hoping it will. America is not a Christian nation and if you are a Christian in this nation then continue to follow Christ and uphold your convictions and faith, but stop being disappointed as America continues to move further and further from what you believe to be true. When did Jesus ever need a Christian nation to fulfill His plan and maintain His sovereignty anyway? My faith and my understanding of who God is does not hinge whatsoever on the status of America and while I am grateful, and deeply indebted, to generations past for the freedom of religion, speech, right to vote, and much more that I can embrace today, I can’t say it is because of those things that I have a rich relationship with Jesus, they are simply a way in which I am able to interact with fellow human beings.

And there you have it. My thoughts. While not complete and all-inclusive on every area of every topic, they are enough for me and enough said by me.

Let the voters now decide.

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Breastfeeding, our story

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has been something that Theo and I have worked together to do for nearing 10 months now and I found out last night that August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, so I thought I would share our story. 🙂

It’s not a ‘how to’ video or an affirmation that there is no better way to feed your baby, just simply our story and the experiences we’ve had and choices we’ve made along the journey!

The way you feed your child does not equal the amount of love you have for your child, and every story of a fed child is a success story!! ❤