10 Things No One Told Me Before Having a Baby

This post won’t be for the faint at heart. Or for people who don’t like hearing (or talking) about bodily fluids, pregnancy and childbirth. If that’s you, I warned you.

If that’s not you, and you have a curious and open mind to the best mama advice I’ve got, I hope you enjoy the next 4 minutes of your life as you read over this list. And maybe share it with a friend who needs it. Lord knows I wish somebody had told me all this stuff.

Secret # 1:

Your blood pressure will drop significantly after the baby is born and YOU WILL BE FREEZING COLD. I recall being in a hoodie and sweatpants underneath 2 blankets in July, sitting in our leather recliner with my 4 day old baby. It was super strange.

Secret # 2:

If you have a C-section, it’s totally normal to pass a blood clot the size of a cantaloupe. I literally pulled the emergency cord in the hospital bathroom because I thought my liver fell into the toilet. When the nurse came running in to see if I was dying, she explained all this with that “Bless your heart” look about her. I didn’t find it very funny at the time, but will admit I felt much better after freeing this mass of dried blood from my body. Not to mention, several of my husbands MALE coworkers were in the hospital room and heard the whole thing happen. Kind of them to show up with Chick-Fil-A? Yes. Would I have preferred to experience that alone? Most definitely.

Secret # 3:

Breastfeeding is REALLY hard in the early days. But it gets easier after 2 weeks. The desire to throw in the towel will come early on, but if you set small goals to just make it through one feeding at a time, before you know it you’ll be on your way to painless, beautifully enjoyable and bonding nursing sessions with your tiny human. Lean on your support (by support I mean, all those friends you have that have done it before, ask them. Women who breastfed their babies usually LOVE to talk about their experience and will help you in a skinny minute). Have tons of grace with yourself. If the lactation consultant tells you to try a different position, trust them. If they suggest you try the nipple shield, try it. If your nipple looks like a tube of lipstick when the baby stops drinking, you’re doing it wrong and they can help with that. Trust me, it hurts like hell to keep letting them make lipstick nipples out of you.

Secret # 4:

Postpartum depression is NO JOKE. Be vigilant about noticing changes in your emotions and make sure your partner is aware enough to recognize changes in your mood and behavior, too. Locking yourself in the bathroom to cry with a newborn in your arms is OK, even if you have a house full of people waiting to hold the baby. But staying in there all day and doing it again the next day could mean it’s time to call your doc. Placenta encapsulation was a game-changer for me the second time around. If you have considered this, my advice is: It’s the best $200 you will ever spend on yourself. Just don’t forget to tell the nurses you want to keep your placenta. They may throw it out pretty quickly otherwise.

Secret # 5:

With regard to #4, saying NO to visitors is OK and encouraged. It’s a big life adjustment and you need all the alone time with the new human you just pushed out that you can possibly get. I am pretty sure my precious Grandparents are still upset with me because they were at our house in the driveway when we pulled up with our first baby six years ago. Grateful that they were there with lunch and cared enough to come visit? Of course I was. But having time to get in and get settled would have been nice, too. I’d have been much more engaged and present during their visit had it been just a few hours later. I had no idea what I was doing as a parent and had literally just been cut open from hip bone to hip bone 3 days before. (Love you Granny and Papa – please forgive me for seeming ungrateful. I promise I was just trying to figure out my new life and needed some space.)

Secret # 6:

Sleep when the baby sleeps. Everyone says that, I know. And it kind of sounds like annoying advice before you actually have the baby, but it really is true. While I was on maternity leave, I was slightly delusional to think I’d craft like Martha Stewart, start a business, and have a hot dinner on the table for my husband every day when he came home from work. I was lucky if I showered every other day and yoga pants and maternity tanks were the only laundry I had to worry about for myself. For 3 months.

Secret # 7:

If you have a C-section, you may experience the most gruesome pain AFTER you get home. I remember for at least a week after coming home from the hospital, every time I would sit down on the toilet to pee, a terrifying pain would shoot from my tailbone up to the middle of my back. The first time it happened I literally wailed as if I was being stabbed. It happened 2 dozen more times but seemed to lessen in severity over a week or so. I was told this was an after effect of the spinal block given to numb me before the incision, but I didn’t expect it. (I could see how an epidural would cause this also, but it didn’t happen to me with my second delivery.)

Secret # 8:

If you are fortunate enough to exclusively breastfeed your baby, know that it’s normal for them to go several days without pooping. And when they do poop, be ready. Hot, yellow, vinegary mess of a load it will be. But no need to be alarmed if a week passes between BMs. The way it was explained to me: breastmilk is so nutritious, there is very little waste for them to get rid of. Their bodies use almost all of your milk.

Secret # 9:

When you change their diaper, if you use a changing table, alternate the direction you lay them each time. They will naturally want to look at you while you change them, and if you lay them the same way ever time, you run the risk of causing their head to flatten on one side. Using the couch or bed and laying them directly in front of you works well, too.

Secret # 10:

When you go into labor, it may feel like you have to poop. With my second, I woke up at 3AM, rolled my giant body out of bed and waddled to the bathroom “to poop”. And then 20 minutes later…again. And then 10 minutes later… again. After an hour, I texted my husband who was sleeping upstairs because I was beyond the point of being an enjoyable bed partner, to tell him I thought I was in labor. After pacing laps around our living room and kitchen for another hour, my water broke and we had s baby soon after.

Don’t let any of this stuff freak you out. Having a baby is the greatest miracle I’ve ever known. It’s all worth it in the end, I promise.

Happy Secret Anniversary, Babe

Eight years ago today, Reid and I got married at the Guilford County Courthouse. We invited my great-grandparents, our grandparents and parents as witnesses.

A wedding date was set for 3/11/11 in Riviera Maya, Mexico. (Anyone who knows my husband can deduce that choosing to be married on 3/11/11 was quite intentional. 311 is his favorite band and I figured he’d never forget our anniversary with a date like that. True story.)

We told very few people about our November 4th nuptials. I don’t even think my brother and sister knew this. We chose this date because it also happened to be Reid’s grandmothers birthday. Cecilia passed when he was a teenager and with his own birthday being the day before, we knew it would be a day we’d never forget.

We have pictures somewhere, but I couldn’t find them today when I briefly looked for them. Mind you, this was before the iPhone and someone actually took film to the store to be developed, which seems unfathomable nowadays. I’m sure my heart will swell when I find them one day.

I’m grateful for everyone who was there to witness our marriage that afternoon, but my heart is extra-grateful for the presence of my great-grandparents. Mama Dot and Papa Fred were precious to me. Mama Dot was “my person”. They showed up in their Sunday’s best and I could see the joy on their faces as they watched us marry one another. They really did love my husband.

Papa Fred gave us this as a wedding gift. I’m pretty sure he cut it out of the Readers Digest. And I’m also pretty sure it was the only gift he ever gave me all on his own. He loved Reid, and he was happy that I was happy. He was happy that I was starting a life with someone he knew would love and cherish me as he had for my whole life. He was proud to stand with us on that day eight years ago.

We knew they’d never be able to travel to Mexico. But what we didn’t know was that they’d both pass before our Mexico wedding ever took place. Papa died on December 15th and just 18 days later on January 2nd, Mama Dot followed behind.

I put their photos in a locket given to me by Mama Dot a year or so before she passed. My Dad had it in his pocket as he walked me down the aisle and handed it to Reid, who clasped it around my neck. They were there with me that day, and it couldn’t have been anymore special.

So, Happy Anniversary to you, babe. I’m sure Mama Dot is eating watermelon and watching “wrasslin'” today as she smiles down on us. And Papa is telling stories to someone and cracking jokes I’m sure.

What I wouldn’t give for one more meal around their supper table.

Counting blessings never seemed to come easy when you were only a phone call away. I sure do miss y’all. But I know that you know, Reid’s doing a fine job taking care of me. And you sure would love our girls.

How Sadler Got Her Groove Back (And, Her Name)

Sometimes, parenting is really hard. Sometimes, it’s like looking in the mirror at our selves. Tonight offered one of those nights and I’d be remiss if I didn’t document the memory.

Sadler (my 6 1/2 year old daughter) is very sensitive. It doesn’t take much for her to cry, and it can come on quickly. Ask her to please move over and share the sink space with her sister while brushing her teeth, she may cry. Ask her not to fuss at her sister for taking a snack she had her eyes set on, she may cry. Tell her she has to go to the dentist for a teeth cleaning, she WILL cry. Ask her to give back a toy that she took from her sister, she may cry.

All of the above happened today alone.

After the dentist and before the chiropractor, we had an hour or so to spare, so I took the girls to my office so that I could get some work done. It’s times like that when having 2 cell phones with You Tube Kids is something I actually appreciate, and a giant white board with lots of fun colored dry erase markers for drawing and practicing Eureka math comes in handy. They were content for a little over an hour and it was quite nice if I am being honest; I was able to get a good bit done. But toward the end of the hour, I turned and looked behind me and noticed something Sadler had written on the white board.

“I am sad and want sum won to macke me happy so I won’t be sad.” She had even taken it an extra step and drawn a perfectly shaped broken heart under these words. Alas, in black marker.

In that moment, I tickled her, asked her why she was sad and she was cheered up in no time it seemed. But flash forward to bath time a few hours later when she cried for being asked to give her sister back the toy, and I may have overreacted.

“Sadler, you seem to be sad an awful lot lately and cry for no good reason.
You’re using a whole lot of good energy and wasting tears. Why are you so sad?”

I brought up the note she wrote on the white board earlier in the day and told her that people don’t “make us sad”. That we have a choice to be sad or to be happy and that sometimes (or a lot of the time), our feelings can trick us into going to a place in our minds that we shouldn’t go. I told her that while it’s okay to feel sad or to feel mad or to feel embarrassed, we shouldn’t build a house there — we can’t stay sad or mad or embarrassed forever.

Fast forward to bedtime. Tonight’s books chosen to read: On the Night You Were Born and Where Ever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman. (Side note: I am beyond grateful that when our family hosted a beautiful baby shower for us before Sadler was born, they requested guests to bring a signed book rather than a card. Oh, the book collection we started before this child was even born! And a shout-out to my dear friends Melissa and Nicole for gifting us those 2 precious books – xoxo)

As we were reading On The Night You Were Born, after I read the words “You are a miracle…” she said, “Hey Mommy, what’s a miracle?”
“A miracle is something that happens that you thought never would. Something that only God knows how and why it happened. And you’re MY miracle.”
She furrowed her brow.
“Mommy’s doctor told her once that my body wasn’t working like it should and I would never be able to have my own kids.”
Her eyes lit up.
“Well, that sounds like a pretty silly doctor. And that’s pretty cool. My friend Miracle has the same name as a miracle,just like my name means that I’m sad.”

I may have stopped breathing for a second. Or maybe my heart stopped beating for just a tiny bit. I don’t know. But I knew I had to stop reading to straighten up a few things for her. My spirit was crushed that my little girl had taken her name and labeled herself as sad, and I was crushed to think that she actually believed it.

“Sadler, has Mommy ever told you where your name came from?”
Grins. “No. But tell me.”
“When Mommy got pregnant with you and found out you would be a girl, I asked GaGa what her Mommy’s name was. And her name was Cecilia Sadler. The moment I heard it, I knew that would be your first name. And my Mama Dot’s name was Dorothy Mae, so that’s how you became Sadler Mae Terrell.”

She smiled, a big smile. And then she wanted to know how her sister got her name. I told her that I had a friend in college who named her daughter Everly and I just loved the name, but that Everly’s middle name (Jean) came from Great Granny Betty (Betty Jean), GaGa (Debra Jean), my aunt Linda Jean who lives in heaven and Ga Ga’s daddy (Gene) who also lives in heaven.

“Mommy, Everly and me are SO LUCKY.”

“You sure are, my sweet girl.”

That moment will be one I never forget for as long as I live.
The joy I saw in her eyes as she listened attentively to her namesake was precious in every way. And the realization that she’d never have to identify herself as “sad Sadler” ever again, for now she knew the truth about how she came to be Sadler Mae.

We talked about how she could respond if someone made fun of her name and called her “Sad” — and boy is she ready! She repeated back to me (almost verbatim) what I told her, and even remembered that a “silly doctor told Mommy that her body was broken and she couldn’t have a baby, but she did.”

What a miracle you are, Sadler Mae.
What a blessing you are to your Daddy and I.
What an incredible big sister you are to Everly Jean.
What a gigantic heart you have.

You think you’re lucky. You have no idea how lucky I feel that God chose me to be your mama.

And as I tucked the girls in and we said our prayers, I asked her what she wanted to pray for:
“For Daddy to get home safely tonight and not to have mud on his shoes.
For me to never have to eat mushrooms again because I don’t like them.
And for God to give me a brother or a sister.”

Oh, dear.

Peace, be still.

Ever wondered what it’d be like to sit on a beach alone at 5:30 in the morning? It’s so dark that the white crests of the waves are the only way to tell where the sand stops and just becomes water. Every few seconds, the Bald Head Island lighthouse flickers white. The Big Dipper and Small Dipper, both above me in the big, dark sky – they are getting fainter now as the lavender light of the morning sun creeps in over the horizon. The tide is low and rough, and I can hear the swell and crash of every wave. The breeze is perfect and the air smells warm and salty. I wonder if there is anyone else out here.

Yesterday on my sunrise walk, I saw a woman sleeping. Pillow, beach towel, and peace are the three things I noticed. A few yards further, I saw a man meditating, his fingers connected to make a circle at the fronts of his shins, his eyes closed and his legs crossed. Again, peace.

It’s 6:09 now and much easier to see. I can read the words in my Bible without a flashlight. The sky looks like cotton candy and every time I pause from writing to look up, I see a new cloud.

I smile. Peace, once more.

I spot an animal down the beach and notice tracks beside me. Did this little guy walk past me and I missed him?

I see more people. Mostly alone. Some couples. Two parents with their young children. And then, they all stop to stare.

“Sonder” – the realization that each random passerby is living a live as vivid and complex as your own.

The same man I saw meditating yesterday was out again today, and I saw him walk closer to the shore to take a picture.

Being fully surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation…

Connecting all of the senses simultaneously in wonder and awe…

Just being still, knowing that a new day is beginning and having gratitude for the breath just taken…

That’s p e a c e.

Realizing that we have choices each day, the ability to choose joy and peace and love rather than sadness or anger or hate. Realizing that we can choose to be kind, no matter how others treat us, because negative people are suffering. Realizing that maybe a smile or kind word is what they need to turn their gaze the other way.

The choices we make craft our life, and if we aren’t careful we will spend our lives focusing on all that’s wrong and miss all that’s available, all that’s peaceful and all that’s beautiful.

May peace be with you today, and always.

#BeTheChange

My 30 Day Social Media Experiment

For a good while, I’ve tried to embrace the love/hate relationship that I have developed with social media.

I love the way it connects us to people we aren’t physically close to, and I love how we can encourage and inspire others by sharing our stories and experiences. I love how it helps us find an apartment or a yoga studio or a good networking opportunity. I love the way we have a handheld way to chronicle our lives through photographs and paragraphs and share these memories with those who want to be a part of our journey through the screen and scroll.

Yet I hate the scroll. I hate the comparison trap. I hate the divisiveness. I hate the hatred.

We take our selfies when we’re at our best and post them for others to see when they are in potentially their worst. We showcase our new stuff and our big houses and our vacations and our family memories and our sporting events and our flowers and our jewelry and our cars and then press the home button to get back to real life.

We hop from one app to the other, scrolling for something new that gets our attention. What comment threads can we read? What assumptions can we make about people by reading their thoughts in a heated online argument (because even if you don’t think you will, you are.) and do we comment also?

I find myself taking photos of my kids, and thinking they must be posted right away (because I’ll forget, of course). And then I spend a few minutes thinking about the caption, and if it needs hashtags, and should I do only hashtags or a caption, too? Should I include their names in the hashtag?…

Then the little red numbers start popping up on the icon on my phone. Someone liked my picture. {smile and heart swell}. They commented. Do I comment back? Sometimes I try, but sometimes I just don’t want to. Is that rude? Oh, another comment – this is so flattering! People think my kids are just as amazing as I do.

Maybe I will just take the app off my phone and that way I can only see Facebook if I go to the website. And turn off the notifications so that there are no distracting red numbers in circles.

But what if I just don’t look at all. (Well, with the exception of monitoring business pages for my job once a day, which I will explain later…). But what if I just don’t Facebook at all, for 30 days. What would that look like?

Most of you probably don’t know this about me, but I am incredibly sensitive and feel things around me much differently than you most likely do. (If you are a “feeler” like me, lets chat because I am always looking to build my tribe with those who get it.) Through the lens of social media, I am able to discern in others: pain, joy, authenticity, rage, fear, dishonesty and thankfully, love. But it’s heavy. I’ve wondered what it would be like to just cut off social media altogether. But then, I discover a fantastic new restaurant to take my family to by a Facebook share. It’s tough, I know.

So, for me personally, I am ready to do something about it. I’m off Facebook–a test with a strategy coming alive as my fingers strike these keys. Here’s my plan:

  1. Starting right this minute and for the next thirty days, I will not use Facebook for personal reasons*. I have already deleted the app from my phone.
  2. Because my job requires me to monitor the digital presence of our apartment communities, I will view each business page once per day and will only be on Facebook for this purpose. (Don’t worry SPG, my duties will not slack by way of this experiment!)
  3. I will continue to take pictures of my kids and life as it happens, and at the end of the thirty days, I will share the good ones, sort of as the comic strip of our summer. I appreciate that many of you truly love seeing our photos – we’ve got family all over the country and watching our girls grow up online is a blessing that I am grateful for.
  4. In the time I’ve now gained in my day, I will spend it living more in the moment, and less in the story. I’m gonna time block specific times in my day to check Facebook for work, and to check email.
  5. I’m gonna spend my downtime filling out paperwork and reading books to finish my doula certification because God’s answered my prayer and that’s just what I’m supposed to do. Thinking back on those hours when I served those three different mamas, in three different stages of their journey, and the joy I truly felt deep into my core. I won’t ever forget the way that felt. And God will make a way for me to doula for mothers while working in my current role, too. I feel it in my bones.
  6. Lastly, anytime I take a picture of the girls and normally would have posted it to Facebook or IG, I’m going to email it to them instead. I set up email addresses for each of the girls when they were born and I honestly don’t send them stuff as much as I could. Instead of posting to FB or IG over the next 30, I can send them their own personal captions along with the video or pic. I imagine how cool it will be for Sadler to turn 14 and find out she has an email account full of emails from the last decade of her life. (I would have loved this!)..her own digital scrapbook from her mama’s perspective (and anyone else who emails her – that’s the beauty of it, her grandparents and daddy and cousins and family friends who have her email address can send her things, too.) This has been one of my biggest parenting wins and I’ve patted myself on the back a couple of times for setting it up, I just need a pat on the butt to keep it moving along! So hopefully this experiment will light a spark to send more emails to my little ladies.

I’m excited about this. I hope I’ve inspired someone to take a break, too.

Optimistic this downtime from social media will allow me to be more present. (I plan to disconnect from Instagram, too. I deleted it from my phone.) I hope this downtime will allow me to be more sensitive to God’s purpose for me. To center me and reset me and desensitize me from the junk of the world.

Expect a followup post about my journey through this experiment. Namaste, y’all.

*Sadler’s birthday is coming up very soon and we will use Facebook as our source of invitation. Friends and family that normally get those from us, look for that to come from Reid most likely 😉

10 Things Learned While Hanging Out In The Airport

I’ve been in San Diego for a work conference since Wednesday. When this trip was planned back in January, it only made sense to take advantage of being on the West coast and extend my time here with a mini-vacation with Reid. With friends in San Francisco that we rarely get to see, it was an easy decision to book a flight to get Reid out here, too.

My flight was scheduled to leave at 10AM today. It was a packed flight, and because of this, the airline was looking for a volunteer to give up their seat in exchange for a $450 voucher. I volunteered without hesitation and prepared myself to spend the next 7 hours hanging out in the San Diego airport.

Here’s what today taught me:

  1. Being flexible pays off. Recently, Reid and I made the decision to cancel a trip to NYC for a wedding so that we could attend a marriage conference instead. We were out $400 when this decision was made but felt our marriage was worth it. Today’s decision got my $400 back, plus some.
  2. Wearing a shirt that says “Jesus” on it will get you lots of looks, questions and seemingly extra kindness from complete strangers. It also allows you to somehow get through security without a boarding pass without hesitation.
  3. I love babies. I love smiling at them. And when they smile back, I melt a little.
  4. Eating both breakfast and lunch in the airport won’t provide the best-tasting food, or the best prices in town for that matter. My $13 yogurt and granola would have been better with a $17 Bloody Mary. But paying more for a drink than for breakfast just didn’t seem right to me.
  5. Having someone to talk to whilst waiting for your flight makes the time pass with more joy. I was thankful that my co-worker was willing to be my airport buddy and talk about life with me this morning.
  6. Sometimes, we think we’re over something from our past. But sometimes, we talk about those same things from our past and we cry. Unexpectedly.
  7. People-watching is best done in an airport. Or an amusement park. But an airport offers good watching for sure.
  8. Airports should have nap pods.
  9. Not all TSA workers are grumpy people. I’ve been treated with more kindness than I expected, and even met a TSA worker from Greensboro, who went to high school less than a mile from my house. (He asked me about my shirt and where I got it. Hence #2 on this list.)
  10. People really are addicted to their cell phones. It’s actually kind of crazy to look around and see everyone so captivated by a handheld device. There could be naked people walking around and no one would even notice. Even the kids around me are on some sort of tablet or phone. Very little conversation, yet so much noise.

I’m ready to explore San Francisco, kiss my husband and hug my friends. I miss my children immensely but appreciate what so much alone time can offer. It’s like pressing a reset button in the soul. Sometimes you don’t know what you need until you do something of the path of the plan.

Stay classy, San Diego airport. Until next time…

Happy Mother’s Day

Life is profound. I’ve found myself using the word profound a lot lately. It perfectly describes too many situations for us these days.

Like the other night when Reid and I were fighting and everything around the room felt tense and impossible, my Amazon radio station that randomly shuffles over 200 songs, played 7 songs in a row that happen to be my favorite worship songs. They’re my favorites because for they’ve each spoken to my heart one or more times and I’m moved even still when I hear them. There are no coincidences in this life. God had my back (and my heart) in those moments.

Like the profound difference in my day I’ve noticed if I start it early. And in a place of praise and prayer. If I spend a few minutes outside inhaling Spring and watching the sun peek over the tops of the trees. If I read my Bible. If I journal. If I meditate. If I’m still. Those days — those days are different. Those days pay off for me and have a profound effect on what happens as the day goes on. On mornings when I rush through and get too wrapped up in my self, I lose my footing. I raise my voice. I cry.

When I started to see my prayers be answered, I had a profound sense of trust in God envelop me. When I hear the Holy Spirit tell me how to specifically pray for challenges I may be facing, I obey. I’ve seen a profound difference in my ratio of answered prayers to unanswered prayers from speaking my prayers out loud. Every morning in the shower, I talk to God. I thank him for giving me another morning. For the breath I just took and for the opportunity to be alive another day. I pray fervently for my husband. For my children. For the people in my life who I know are hurting. For healing. For comfort. For discernment. For wisdom. For strength. For JOY to fill my cup.

I’ve prayed for brokenhearted friends. I’ve prayed for strangers. I’ve prayed for broken marriages. I’ve prayed against generational curses and decades of sin and shame and unforgiveness that so many of us are suffering through. I’ve prayed for God to show me my spiritual gifts and how to use them. And I’ve prayed for those who need salvation to hear the gospel before this all ends.

I’ve prayed that I can see others as God sees them, and to just love no matter what. I’ve prayed that those around me could do the same.

God’s been doing profound work in our lives.

But yesterday, I had a moment with Everly that may take the cake. Reid and Sadler were out shopping for Mother’s Day gifts, and we were in Everly’s room putting away laundry. She was playing with her doll and spinning around and singing. And all of a sudden she stopped and asked me to open her PlayDo. And as I watched her from the rocking chair, it hit me. The profound realization that my baby was no longer a baby. But bigger than that, we were done having babies.

I’d rocked my last to sleep.

No more Onesies. Or diapers.

No more breastfeeding…

After 29 months, she finally weaned. We were finished nursing. The “boombas” have been given back to mommy.

The profound realization that I had seen the last of mothering a baby. I began to weep. I immediately grabbed her, picked her up and held her tight. I sat in the rocker as she fought me to get down. I asked her to please let me hold her, for just one minute as we rocked. She reached up and grabbed my face and said, “Mommy, are you OK?”

I lost it. My baby just asked me a question in a complete sentence. I sobbed and sobbed and kissed her and it seemed that every blinking moment with my babies that I have ever had passed through my lens. I saw all the good moments, all the challenging moments, all the times when I thought parenting couldn’t be any harder. All the times when I felt less engaged that I could have been, or the times I was frustrated and wished myself anywhere but in that given moment.

I didn’t want to put her down. What was only about 5 minutes seemed as long as two nap times. I imagined every afternoon I had in that rocking chair with her, burying my face in her neck as she drifted off to sleep. I remembered the evening standing in the laundry room, when I was about 6 months pregnant with her, that I told Reid we had made a mistake bringing another child into the world. That our marriage wasn’t strong enough and that it would be unfair for her to come into the world.

Little did I know that giving birth to her would be the start of a journey I’d been viewing from the sidelines. I didn’t get in the game with my spirituality until she was born. That in her two short years here, our marriage would crumble and then strengthen. God has had his hand on our marriage. Realizing and seeing and trusting that has been profound.

Motherhood started for me with a scapula and lots of tugging and pulling. That was how Sadler came along Earth side. With Everly, it was different. She blessed me with the ultimate gift of motherhood being born vaginally. She opened something spiritual within me and awakened my soul. And what a profound blessing from God she is.

These girls are amazing wonders to me. I look at them in deep, profound wonder on most days. But it will never be enough. Parenting is hard, and it’s easy to think you aren’t doing it good enough when there is a giant comparison trap in society. I’d rather they have good hearts than snobby attitudes. I’d rather they be giving than selfish, and I’d rather they be kind than cruel. I pray they always see the good in people and that they will find their passions and what calls them. I pray they will live. I pray they will love. I pray that Reid and I can speak life into them every day that they are breathing, and I pray that they will grow up to be the best of friends.

I’ve got a profound gratitude for all of the mothers out there. Mothers make new mothers, and even if it’s the hardest job we’ll ever love, motherhood should be cherished. When the days seem harder than they should, and nothing goes the way we’d planned, may we all just surrender and thank God he gave us the chance to be a mother in the first place.