We were sitting on a deck during the summer of 2014, sipping mojitos and enjoying the evening breeze… reminiscing about the three years prior. We talked about how, like most, we had gone through our share of challenges, but we’ve gotten down to the art of working things out civilly.
My husband described us that night as perfectly flawed. Perfectly flawed beings in the eyes of God, perfectly flawed in our relationship.
We’ve seen our fair share of challenges since then, as most couples do. But the same definition holds true. As time has passed, it has become clear to me how many other areas of my life can be described the same way: my spiritual walk, my marriage, growth in my career when I worked outside of our home, my stretch-marked body, motherhood, productivity and shortcomings of being a homemaker. I get stuck on the details instead of seeing the big picture. I was a perpetual procrastinator before having a baby, and now, it’s only gotten worse. I’ve washed the current load of laundry twice now because I forgot to move it over to the dryer. I’m a bear in the morning. I blow far too many dollars at Starbucks these days. I’m ashamed of my postpartum body even though I would be pregnant in a heartbeat all over again to have Gracie. I can’t wear white without somehow spilling on myself. I do not love people the way Jesus does. And yet, He loves me, so perfectly flawed! And that brings me peace that nothing and no one else can.
My mother gave me some advice when I told her I wanted to share my heart and thoughts through writing. She said, “Keep it real” – and that is what I plan to do.
When you’re on bed rest for 4 weeks leading up to your induction, you really have a way of making sure every t is crossed and every i is dotted when it comes to checking off your hospital bag list. I read blog after blog and multiple books outlining what I had to make sure I brought to the hospital with us. Hindsight is 20/20. This was my list…BOLDED what I actually USED!
- Birth Plan
- Insurance information
- Ultrasound picture to push inspiration
- My glasses
- Pillow + old pillowcase
- Witch hazel wipes
- Hair bands
- Contact lens case and solution
- Hair Brush
- MascaraI actually was glad I brought it. Putting it on for visitors made me feel at least a bit more human!
- Face wipes
- Bath Towels
- Cell phone chargerI’d recommend this one.
- Nursing bra
- Robe & nursing dressI’d recommend this. It was practical and I felt comfortable when guests came to visit.
- Change of clothes for going home
- Throwaway undiesEnded up wearing Depends.
- Cute gownCOMPLETE WASTE OF MONEY!
- non skid socks
- Nipple cream
- Nursing pads
- Going home outfit
- What I didn’t pack but wish I would have: Baby nail clippers!
For Corey: I packed protein bars. And they were EATEN!
My advice? When you’re at the hospital, family, friends, and nurses can bring you any items you absolutely need. Spend time researching the self-care and breastfeeding items you will need when you return to your home.
- Set up a nursing station at your house:Breastpump
- Milk savers – I actually slept in these at night when Grace would go long stretches in those early months!
- Self-care baskets in your bathrooms:Depends
- Witch hazel wipes – I’d recommend these. They are shaped like wipes instead of the Tucks small round pads and were more effective at alleviating pain.
What were your hospital bag must haves?
I remember you
In worn out blue jeans and your old t-shirts – the kind with the pocket on the chest – working away on your latest project.
I remember you
Telling jokes so simple and obvious that they would make me laugh, and then you’d laugh, and soon enough we’d be in our own little fit, with others around the table smiling and wondering why it was so funny just to us.
I remember you
Taking calls in the office – alternating between Pennsylvania Dutch and English, calling everyone “Boova!”
I remember you
With your country Western music in the old truck, your special chair you sat in in the living room.
I remember you
Building us a life-size teepee in the backyard, a place of our own at your house so we could play,
Using your excavator to pile up all the snow you could manage into a hill that we could sled down in the driveway.
I remember you
Driving the mower around the backyard, us kids with our bare feet hanging off the edge of the wagon attached in the back.
Cutting watermelon in the summertime out by the barn, with juice running down all of our faces.
I remember you as Santa Claus
and how I argued with the kids in school that Santa was real – because I had seen him in the flesh, sneaking into my house to drop off presents.
I remember you in ‘The Shop’
A place where cheese and pretzels and ring bologna and beers and laughs never ran out.
All of the parties, the cookouts, the yard sales, the family reunions. I was so young, but I remember. You star in the fondest memories of so many. Especially mine.
When we’re young, we never know we will live a day without our grandparents. When we’re older, we know better, but we fight the thought with all we have because we can’t imagine the emptiness without them.
I will remember you with that smile. You’d look at me and shake your head and smile like you just couldn’t believe your eyes. You always made me feel so special.
I will remember you always this way, my grandpa: with your unruly white hair and your bright eyes and your big smile and your hugs. I will remember you always by the way you’d make me belly laugh and how I always felt safe in your presence. I will remember you with your strength and your zest and your talents and your endearing Dutch accent. I will always remember you with so much love.
Wellness means different things to different people. I have struggled on both sides of the spectrum when it comes to diet and fitness. Binge eating… not eating. Working out 2x a day vs. doing nothing at all. To me, wellness means I have a healthy relationship with food and exercise. It means I’m not calorie counting, weighing my food, or sneak-eating and hiding the evidence in the bottom of the trash can. It means I can have cake and I can also have kale. It means I’m making an effort to be active, but not tearing myself down if I don’t hit the gym.
This section of the site (and of my life) is about balance and follows my journey into positive body image post partum. You’ll find adapted and completely made-up recipes that allow me to experience guilt-free eating.
While I do see a weight management doctor, I am obviously not one myself. I eat processed food. I look for cooking shortcuts to save time and make things easy. I am not on a low-carb, low-fat, sugar-free, low-sodium, no sweets diet. I’m simply finding ways to make food work for me instead of against me.
A year ago today, I never could have imagined what this birthday would look like. I could barely get through 9/21/2016 without crying. A week prior to my 27th birthday I lost my first pregnancy.
In the months following, I dreamt of how I would tell Corey I was pregnant again when it happened, getting the nursery ready, and what it would be like to feel a first kick someday. I imagined all of these moments so vividly but it was still so hard to believe any of them could ever be real. I felt overwhelmed with guilt for being so undeservingly blessed, but still feeling an emptiness. I wrestled with the constant tug of the calling God gave me to be a mother, and the pull of it so easily becoming an idol. We prayed a lot in those months following; For a baby, yes, but mostly for completeness in Christ and contentment in the season we were in. The first month I let go of expectations and surrendered, God gave us Grace: Our sweet daughter, and truly the definition of the word.
My heart will always mourn the soul of the one we lost. There are so many of us who have experienced miscarriage, and I never realized how common and devastating it was until I went through it myself. It is isolating. When emotional situations arise, I notoriously “go into my shell” – as my best friend lovingly describes it, but I found myself consumed with grief and wanting to talk about it constantly but feeling like a burden if I did. It was by far the darkest time in my life and perhaps that’s why almost a year later, I still have hesitancy in sharing such a personal piece of our story.
But… there is always a sense of thankfulness for our rainbow and cherishing each and every flutter, elbow jab, and unpleasant symptom that reminds me our little one is with me. Her heart is next to mine, both of us so fragile.