Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Family of Four

There have been so many moments I've wanted to capture in these early days at home with Brennan. Moments that I know I'll miss and will want to remember in years to come. My only complaint about this time with a new baby is that I have no way to bottle up this time.... These days are fleeting and oh, so precious.

But, I have made notes...words spoken, emotions felt, observations & reflections of this time. Here's hoping that they'll capture a bit of the beauty that we've experienced in welcoming a new life to our family.

Emerson's maturity....

We prepared Emerson as well as we knew how before Brennan was born. About how the hospital experience and time with grandparents could go (so many unknowns about the timeline of childbirth and all of the potential scenarios made that a challenge)...about what it means to have a new baby at home...about becoming a big sister. She was as ready as she could've been.

But, still, there were surprises. We asked a lot of her during a highly emotional time, and the girl responded with confidence & grace, patience & flexibility.

I could not be more proud of her....
As she stayed at home the night her sister was born, away from Mommy and Daddy for the first time.
As she came to the hospital to meet the new baby, unsure of what exactly was happening. (Oh, the thoughts that could've been going through her head. I can only imagine.)
As she went home with Daddy for night #2 away from Mom.
As she tenderly holds Brennan, genuinely concerned for her needs and lovingly offering her help as often as possible.

She is one special little girl, and is a natural in her new role. Being a big sister suits her, and I'm overwhelmed with excitement for the tender relationship those two girls will have.

Things Emerson said on the day we brought Brennan home from the hospital....

  • Shaking her hand as she held her in the hospital bed..."Nice to meet you, baby sister."
  • Proudly bringing a blanket with her to the hospital..."She will need it so she won't be cold."
  • Seeing Brennan's bandage on her ankle from lab work..."I hope she be okay...."
  • Hearing Brennan squeak..."She talking to me! You hear that, Mommy?"
  • Driving home from the hospital..."It's your house, too, Brennan! You'll have so much fun with us!"
  • Holding Brennan in Mommy and Daddy's bed while Mommy folded laundry....
    • "You're amazing."
    • "Is that com-bubble (comfortable) for her?" 
    • "I love you, Brennan. I love you, Brennan.... We took you home, to your new home."
    • " puts me in the mood...por food. You like that song? ABCD...."

Our first night at home together....

  • Emerson had a couple of unpredictable and stressful days. Time away from Mom, a new baby.... But, she was resilient. And, after a successful "sleepover" at home, just the two of them together, Daddy was quite proud! As he should've been. I will never forget the joy I felt looking out the hospital window just in time to see the two of them walking in the parking lot, hand in hand. When Emerson came to my room, she was refreshed and content and secure; all was well in her world again. What a happy morning! 
  • There were two car seats in the van on our way home from the hospital. Two. One for each of our children. Of which we now have two. TWO. 
  • As I unpacked the suitcase, Emerson wanted to hold Brennan on the Boppy in the bed. That was such an incredibly precious scene. Some of their first moments together, just the two of them as I watched from a distance. I couldn't type fast enough on my phone as I tried to record the tender, heartfelt conversation. The first of many such visits, I predict. Emerson is in love...a full of compassion and patience and tenderness. I had no doubt as I watched them that Brennan would be safe in her big sister's arms. They take my breath away.
  • The house was a mess when we came home, and there was lots of laundry to be done and suitcases to unpack and dinner to cook and two children to tend to. And I used the still-flowing adrenaline to my advantage and was bustling around the house trying to get it all done. (Plus, it felt great to be back home, as opposed to stuck in a hospital room.) I decided then and there that I was really going to like the scurry, the busyness and the projects that two children would bring. It feels right to be a mama of two.
  • I saw Emerson in Brennan. Particularly, her expression as she lifted her head off of my chest, pursing her lips with a furrowed brow. What fun it is already to enjoy memories of Emerson's infancy as I watch Brennan.
  • Emerson has been nothing short of a rockstar with the change and the unpredictability of the past 48 hours. And Brennan seems to be quite easygoing! Going with the family flow, fitting right in as we go about our normal activity. I'm so proud of both of these girls. And I don't think that'll be the last time I say that.
  • While Bobby went to get our food, I cooked macaroni for Emerson. And as I juggled Brennan in one arm and mixed the butter and milk into the noodles with the other, I thought for the first time, "oh, yeah, mother of two...I've got this." It felt, for lack of a better term, "legit". And, I loved it.
  • We had a steak dinner delivered to us on our first night home with Emerson. It was a feast and a real treat. But, this time, we had Sonic and macaroni on the couch, as we watched "monkey George" with our precious toddler, with our newborn sleeping peacefully beside us. Happy to all be together once again, home where we belong. That meal was just what we needed. I was teary and joyful. Steak dinners are great...but it just doesn't get better than this.
  • It was a perfect first night at home together. It felt right and it felt comfortable. Every night won't be like this, but I couldn't have asked for more for our first night together, and I'm grateful.

Reflections from the first few days....

  • Bobby and I know our individual roles as parents, and we have better expectations about what each of our children need from us.  We're functioning as a better team, with a more clear understanding of what we need from each other, too. 
  • We also understand our individual sleep needs, and the realities of nights with a newborn. The "shock" factor hasn't existed this time.
  • We are, simply, more confident and more self-assured than last time. And, we're enjoying the experience differently than before.
  • Bobby's role with Emerson has changed form, and they have been such wonderful playmates during his time at home. This is a shift that has been long-anticipated and highly-desired...and although it's so precious to see the trust & fun & companionship between them grow, it's admittedly a little hard for Mommy. I've had to miss out on their daily "adventures" to the zoo or the library or the park, which has made me sad...wishing I could be out of the house, and also knowing that I'm missing special time with Emerson, and one-on-one time with her. As her relationship with Bobby changes, my role in her life is changing form, too, and that's bittersweet. 

The verse mentioned during the church service we watched on our first morning at home with Brennan that made me teary....

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, 
who have been called according to his purpose. 
Romans 8:28

Perhaps the sweetest thing Bobby has ever said to me....

"I'm going to try to remember, and not take for granted, 
the fact that you just had a baby two days ago...
since you look like you're back to 100%."

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Today is Bobby's first day back to the office after nearly two weeks at home for paternity leave. And, I'm sad that he isn't here.

Not because I'll have less help with dishes and housework. (Though that's certainly true, and his help in those areas over the past couple of weeks has been substantial. He's amazing, and I'm grateful.)

Not because I won't be able to rest so easily mid-afternoon.

Not because I'll be on my own with two little girls during the day.

I'm bummed because this is the end of what has been two incredibly refreshing weeks at home as a family.

"Refreshing" is hardly what I envisioned when I pictured our first couple of weeks with a newborn. I imagined being in "survival mode", needing Bobby to deliver coffee to me each morning (which, admittedly, he has done quite regularly) just to keep me functional. And yet, this time was quite the opposite. Sure, we've been tired, but this time at home was more about enjoyment & togetherness & rejuvenation than mere survival.

Bobby's time off-work was shorter when Emerson was born, and between fewer days at home and the unfamiliarity of being new parents and the mental weariness that was a different experience. Beautiful and uniquely wonderful as we learned about parenthood! But, different. Those days were certainly precious, but they weren't what I would call "refreshing".

This time, besides the benefit of having sweet Emerson to entertain us, I think we both came into the experience with far more realistic expectations. Going in, we understood the reality of lack of sleep, and that spending the night in the nursery recliner is part of the game. (Which hasn't made being away from the flannel sheets in our bed easier, necessarily, but we haven't been shocked by the exhaustion that comes from many poor nights of sleep.) Our parenting roles are more clearly defined, and we are working better as a team. Bobby is more confident with a newborn this time around, and I think he better understands the reality that Brennan primarily needs me (read: my milk) in these early days. He's been able to focus his energy and attention on Emerson, and they have truly connected during this time. Daily "adventures" out and about together, and that night spent at home together while I was at the hospital, have been especially huge bonding experiences for the two of them. It's a big (beautiful) deal!

Bobby said it well when he expressed to my dad that, as much as we (really, really) enjoy our summer vacations and getaways, there's something to be said for having had this time at home, doing very little other than just enjoying the company of one another. I suppose that's where the idea of "stay-cations" came from. (Although, I don't know that that concept is necessarily appealing to us. Even if we were to stay home during vacation time, I think we'd be liable to want to DO things, out and about, and make it a "productive" time.) But, being at home with a newborn, whom we very much want to avoid exposing to germs unnecessarily, somewhat forced us to just home & still & together & rested. This was a time unlike any other that we've had as a family, and it was nothing short of refreshing.

Weekends are wonderful, but they are, as we all know, far too short. There are, more often than not, chores & errands & things to do that don't allow for much in the way of rest, much less uninterrupted family time.

So, the obvious answer to continue to enjoy these periods of rest is to have another baby right away so we can regularly have weeks of FMLA paid time together.

Kidding. (Sorry, Mom.)

In all seriousness, though, I do believe we'll be making a more conscious effort in the months ahead to be intentional about Bobby taking time-off on a regular basis, for the sole purpose of family togetherness.

We need to make it happen. It's absolutely worth it.

Bobby, I'm so grateful for the past two weeks. You are a rock, for me and for our girls. 
So much of Emerson's positive adjustment is a credit to your efforts and time with her. 
You are an incredible daddy; these girls don't yet know how blessed they are, but their mom does. 
I will treasure these precious days we've spent at home as a new family of four. 
Thank you for helping to make this time so special, and for loving us...for loving well. 
Your THREE girls love you so very much! xoxo

Friday, October 10, 2014

Introducing Brennan Elizabeth

At 8:37 p.m. on Thursday, October 2nd, 2014, Bobby and I met our daughter, Brennan Elizabeth. 
7 pounds, 8 ounces of God's handiwork...another perfect miracle! 

Brennan's birthday came a week earlier than we expected, so although her arrival came as a bit of a surprise, we were (of course) overjoyed just the same. We enjoyed the blessing of a (relatively) quick, non-medicated labor & a healthy delivery, and immediately experienced the most incredible feelings of new and abundant love for another child. God is faithful. 

Seeing these two little girls together has brought me immense and overwhelming joy, like none I've ever known before. Emerson's sweet words & gentle touches...her thoughtfulness & patience & flexibility...she is a natural and is thriving in her new role. To witness her growing love for her new baby sister is incredibly beautiful. These are truly precious days.

You are fiercely loved, Brennan Elizabeth. Welcome to our family!