Monday, October 11, 2010

"We can't see what's ahead/ And we can not get free from what we've left behind"

Well, I had planned on writing this blog yesterday, but fatigue, laundry, and the demands of a baby kept me at bay. I had planned on writing this blog earlier today, but thank you notes, gathering addresses, and once again, the demands of a baby kept me from the plan. Ah, the best laid plans, right?? Charlotte is currently napping on my chest as I try to barely reach the keyboard and type. This is not the optimal situation, but every time I have moved her from napping on my body to some other area she has lasted about five minutes before wailing. Some might say let her cry. Well, I am weak and guilt motivated, and she is entirely too cute. So, I just pick her right back up and give her what she wants. Lord help me when I have to start disciplining this child, because right now I’m a total push over!

We’ve been doing well this last week. Charlotte made her first trip to Covington to see her Little grandparents. She seemed to greatly enjoy her time. She hardly slept a wink during the day for all the exciting activity. I was also able to attend a shower for my sister-in-law Dana while I was there. My first social outing was great. Many of the same women who hosted the shower for me where hosting this one, and they once again out did themselves. The food was divine and the fall d├ęcor was stunning. I left Charlotte in the care of Ben, my father, my grandfather, and my brother Henry. Four men and a baby is pretty scary, right??? But, she seemed fine when I got home, so I’ll deem them responsible babysitters J

After our wonderful weekend in Covington, Mary, Charlotte and I headed to the pediatrician for Charlotte’s one month check up. She was doing great and weighing in at a whopping 7lb 9oz. I swear she has had a growth spurt this week because for six days straight she was demanding to be fed every 2 hours!!! Now I love my little girl, but this is a lot of feeding. It flat wore me out. The little chub-O finally seemed to slow down while visiting with her Bratton grandparents and great grands in Hollywood.

Maybe I am speaking to soon. She has just started making sucking noises and is now awake and crying, and it has been exactly two hours since her last feeding!!!! Oh goodness, will my life always be limited to 30min intervals in between feedings!!!!!!!!!!!!


An hour and a half later: Well, after feeding and bathing Charlotte, feeding Ben and myself, and losing a bit of hair in the process (she has quite a death grip) I’m back to finish what I stared.

This is going to make some of you laugh. I had read Baby Wise before Charlotte was born and thought it made great sense and was determined it would be our feeding method. Hahahahaha. Surgery, days in the NICU and low birth weight seemed to ruin those plans. I flipped through it the other night to see if I was doing anything right, nope. Actually that is how I feel a lot these days, like I just can’t do it right. I don’t know; maybe all new moms feel this angst. Baby Wise confirms that my feeding methods leave much to be desired.

I have also been reading Creative Counterpart by Linda Dillow. I started reading it to try to get on the right path to becoming the wife and mother that God has called me to. The book is great and very convicting, but often times after reading it I feel like a failure. I wonder why I can’t do all those things that make it into the author’s week (she has three children btw). She exhorts women to spend time with God (memorize scripture, bible reading, prayer), revere their spouse (write them letters, date nights), spend quality time with children (do crafts, play), keep an orderly house (clean and plan time wisely), maintain self (exercise ones body and mind), and devote time to others (volunteer, church programs). Now, I agree with all this but am utterly overwhelmed by trying to accomplish it. I have trouble getting out of PJs and into real clothes some days. I always feel insufficient and guilty. If I’m playing with Charlotte, I wonder if I should really be cleaning the bathroom. If I’m writing thank you notes, I wonder if I should go play with Charlotte. If I’m chilling with Ben at night, I think about how I should be ironing laundry. Also, I know full well that God does not get the time He deserves, though I am working on that. As I’m blogging, I’m wondering if I should be using my time in other ways.

I know that we can not do anything God call us to on our own. I’m praying and trying to lean on Christ but still end up feeling that hardly any of the things I wanted to get accomplished happen in a day. When you are feeding a baby every two hours you have maybe 45minutes in between, and even if it is every three hours you only have about 1hr and 15min to accomplish all the tasks at hand. The time between feedings seems to slip through my fingers and I have no clue what happens to it. Not to mention that I’m typically exhausted most of the day. I really want to start working out and getting back into shape, but how on earth do I find the energy to do that??? Am I just lazy???

I have friends with children and I read blogs of mothers who seem to be doing all this. Am I just missing the boat??? I’d love some tips from you moms out there. How do you all delight in God, submit to your husband in love, wisely raise your children, look nice, keep an orderly home, and give to others? ANY advice would be much appreciated. I think some times I just worry too much. I have an emotional battle every time I buy chicken wondering if I should spend the extra on organic or be frugal and buy the stuff pumped with hormones; either choice I make I’ll leave wondering if I acted wisely.

Don’t misunderstand. I love this new role of motherhood and wouldn’t trade it for all the designer shoes in Saks J. Charlotte is such a joy. I can’t believe she is 6 weeks old today. The time goes by way too fast. I just desperately want to raise Charlotte in a home that glorifies God and am wondering the how to apply the traits of the Godly woman in proverbs to my life.

The following song has really spoken to me lately:

HARD to GET by Rich Mullins

You who live in heaven
Hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth
Who are afraid of being left by those we love
And who get hardened by the hurt

Do you remember when You lived down here where we all scrape
To find the faith to ask for daily bread
Did You forget about us after You had flown away
Well I memorized every word You said

Still I'm so scared, I'm holding my breath
While You're up there just playing hard to get

You who live in radiance
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin
We have a love that's not as patient as Yours was
Still we do love now and then

Did You ever know loneliness
Did You ever know need
Do You remember just how long a night can get?
When You were barely holding on
And Your friends fall asleep And don't see the blood that's running in Your sweat

Will those who mourn be left uncomforted
While You're up there just playing hard to get?

And I know you bore our sorrows
And I know you feel our pain
And I know it would not hurt any less
Even if it could be explained

And I know that I am only lashing out
At the One who loves me most
And after I figured this, somehow
All I really need to know

Is if You who live in eternity
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time
We can't see what's ahead
And we can not get free of what we've left behind
I'm reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears
All the words of shame and doubt, blame and regret

I can't see how You're leading me unless You've led me here
Where I'm lost enough to let myself be led


LB said...

My thoughts? At six weeks post-partum your only job is to feed that baby and get what sleep you can:) I can relate to all of that guilt, which is when I call my mom in tears:) You are doing such a great job, Esther!! As for babywise, I say read it and use what works for you, but if it is less stressful for Charlotte to eat every two hours and sleep on your chest, do that. Do what keeps stress to a minimum!!! I was a stickler for Babywise with Ada, and I relaxed A LOT with John, but don't listen to me b/c at 8 months I am finally letting him cry it out b/c he was eating every two hours at night. Anyway, this is the longest comment ever to say that every single mom out there feels the way you do!!!

Brooke Thompson said...

I did babywise with Briley. Brody is on a "eat whenever you want schedule" Let me tell you that I regret babywise with Briley. She is so big now and will barely sit with me. I am soaking every single (exhausting as it may be) minute of his baby stage. Also, he just now started to get to where he doesnt eat all the time and its much easier. Give it time. In the mean time just relax, play with Charlotte and sleep!! You will have the rest of your life to clean and work out!! Your doing great!

ann said...

You are so not alone!!! I am always in a battle over my time. Am I using it wisely? Money? I've been in a fit all day over my Costco purchases and whether they really did save me money and I stand in the aisle at the grocery store way too long trying to make the best decision--"cheap or healthy?" But I sooo agree with LB. Please don't be too hard on yourself-I promise your entire life won't revolve around 2 hour feedings. I too get overwhelmed by those books and blogs and such. Some moms seem to have it all together, but I tell myself over and over that you can't have it all. And you really can't. If you devote hours and hours to making your house spotless, then something else will give. I would love to encourage you with Charlotte's schedule if I can at all. I will give you a call soon or call me anytime!

You're doing a GREAT job!

Anonymous said...

In the professional world, baby-wise is taboo because of all the failure to thrive issues associated with it. in fact, american academy of pediatrics has even issued warnings against its feeding "methods" as contraindicated for breastfeeding and baby needs. like most things, i'm sure they can still have some helpful truths - but anyway.

nursing as needed (correctly reading your babies cues for hunger: smacking lips, sucking on fists, rooting around) is much more in keeping with the created design of breasts and babies. being attuned to your baby is a lifelong gift and investment in your relationship!

alternative approaches that might be helpful are Dr. Sear's website - a christian pediatrician and father of 8 and also at the other end of the spectrum are la leche's info. but all "parenting books" can be guilt-inducing in their idealism. at the end of the day, it is hard to read your conscious and know if you are making the right choice for your child. it is a huge responsibility!

tal has always "slept thru the night" insofar as I have never had to walk around w/ her, play, or get up with her and she always falls asleep by 8 and sleeps in till 8. (she does dream-feed or nurse in her sleep, but according to brain-wave sleep patterns, that is actually sleeping). i observed lots of parenting styles and families - and was open to trying lots of things. it ended up given her high needs and my surgery/weight loss that making our bed into a safe place so i could nurse her at night without us waking worked great for us. even during crazy growth spurts where she would nurse 10x/night (aawww!!) I would still be able to get up and go to residency the next morning. (again, co-sleeping was our salvation but totally un-american and not feasible for some families although common place throughout the world). I'm also really "small-chested" so tal did need to nurse really frequently as a newborn (every 40 minutes). plus, I didn't want to use pacifiers... again, personal choice and good luck with those!

you have my prayers and compassion as you and ben make choices about how to honor christ in establishing the "norms" of your household and making decisions in charlotte's best interest! mothering and wife-ing are difficult in their intangible nature. i hope you are able to find the support and care that you need as you are literally pouring yourself into another (extremely helpless and uber demanding) human being! much love, tiffany

Dana said...

Having finished Baby Wise recently, I also have been thinking that we would try some of the basic principles on a modified, flexible schedule. We'll see how my comment changes in the next couple of months! Ha! I have heard from several moms that they regret following Baby Wise strictly for their first child, and that they enjoy their second children's baby stage much more by NOT following the book to the letter. You are doing a great job!!!

Lindsey Scott said...

Hey Esther! I am Jeff J's sister Lindsey and a Mommy to a 6 month old. As I was reading your blog, I was taken back to those trying times with a newborn. My advice to you is to take care of yourself and just cuddle and kiss your sweet baby. All a baby needs at that age is a healthy mommy (and I don't mean physically) to show her love and answer her cry. I remember wanting to feel "normal" again and would pay any amount of money for just 6 hrs of consecutive sleep. Just know that this phase does not last forever and you will soon be rewarded for all of your hard work with a smile and eventually laughter. You can worship the Lord while you sing to your daughter "Jesus Loves Me" and "He's got the whole world in his hands". Good luck and I appreciate you opening your heart and just being honest.

Meghan said...

Now, I know I'm not a mama yet, but reading what that woman writes you should do made me laugh (in disbelief). I mean, even without kids, it's hard to get all of those things done every single day. With kids, much harder, and with a newborn-pretty much impossible. I doubt that's a "typical" day so much as an "ideal" day. Also, how old are her kids? If she has 3 kids, then one or two are probably old enough to do many tasks for themselves, help out with chores, etc. And she probably has developed a routine by the time the 3rd comes along. I bet she didn't have it all down when she had her first baby.

As for Baby Wise, Will's mom used it on him, and she loved it, BUT she didn't use it on him until he was a few months old (maybe 4 months?). Right now, Charlotte is SO little. She needs to eat! Also, I think she followed it loosely. When I started nannying him, Will was 5 months old. She told me that she does a general plan of: he wakes up, feed him breastmilk, feed him meal (once he was old enough for being fed foods), play with him/change him/run errands/whatever needs to be done, put him down for nap, repeat. When he was 5 months old, he would go through this cycle where he slept 2 hours, then did the other stuff in his plan for 2 hours, then slept 2 hours, etc. until about 5. I wouldn't put him down for a nap after that so that he would sleep well at night.

Now that he is over 1, he still is on that cycle for the most part, only he takes 2 naps a day and they aren't always 2 hours. Sometimes more or less. Sometimes he will skip a nap, which is normal at that age because they are getting old enough for one nap a day. The cycle is nice in that it makes it easy to estimate when I need to be back at their house for naps if we are out, but really, I think Charlotte will let you know when she's tired or hungry or whatever just because that's what babies do. They always have. =)

You are a great mom and wife. Honestly, she is just so little right now, that focusing on her is all anyone expects. Ask Ben- I'm sure he would be appalled that you think you're not measuring up.

If you want a blog of a mom that is realistic about her day and who doesn't get out of "holey yoga pants" most days, try reading She has 4 kids, homeschools, lives on a ranch, is an awesome cook, and reminds people that she just can't do it all most days. She has to pick one or two things to really strive to meet and let the rest go. She's hilarious, honest, and interesting. I think you'll like her.

Sorry for such a long comment!

laura.murphree said...

Hey Esther! I have been praying for all three of you for months now. I love reading your blog and the truth you share. I just had to comment today. I have been there and still try daily to not feel like a failure. I think you are doing a great job. I did read Babywise but at first I was not good at following it but I did get better and our days get better...ultimately do what is best for you and Charlotte...she will be fine and her routine can be adjusted later...what you do now is not the last chance you will have to get her on a routine. Each phase brings about a new routine. Also, Kylie did the same thing of crying when I put her down bc she was used to sleeping on my chest. Let me recommend easing her off your chest and putting her on her belly. I started out putting her down on my bed so she could still smell me and then when she began to move around I moved her to her crib....something about the pressure against her belly kept her napping and gave me rest. I know we are not supposed to put babies on their bellies but then awhile back we were not supposed to put them on their back. I say we ALL need some rest. Hope this helps! Tell Ben I said hello. -LMAC

Francie said...

My dear, dear Esther,
I have really good news:
1. You are doing a terrific job with Charlotte!!!!!! (And I have first hand knowledge!)
2. There is no singular "right way" to raise a child.
3. Some books (and people) will offer suggestions that work for you and Charlotte. Some books (and grandmothers...oops, guilty!) will offer suggestions that do not work. It will probably take a bit of experimenting to figure out which is which.
4. Nobody does it all, NOBODY!!! There will be time for lots of those things you think you are supposed to be doing, just not all of them, and certainly not now.
5. Being the mother of a newborn is the most legitimate "excuse" you will ever have for not getting things done. Don't mess up a good thing!!!!

Anonymous said...

Esther.....never nursed a child (thank goodness) and was at work most of the time ya'll were little but I know there are seasons in life and we are not able to do all things at all times. I also know there are no super parents or super husbands or super wives only sinner ones that need Christ. I would just encourage you to do "His" list each day. I think that generally it is a much shorter, simpler, and meaningful list than the one we come up with. As for all the rest of the stuff...make me a list. I will be there in 1 week and would love to take care of some if it for you. Love you DAD

Kristen said...

Hey girl,

I'll just add my voice to the chorus and say RELAX!! I'm exactly 6 months ahead of you in this whole "first time mommy" thing, and as I sit surveying things at this exact moment, let me tell you what I see:

I see clothes on the floor in our living room, stuff all over the coffee table AND the dining room table, dishes left over from dinner that aren't cleaned up yet, magazines in a pile by the easy chair, and half of the bottle of pumped breastmilk that Ella was SUPPOSED to eat before bed but didn't eat still sitting where James left it. Also, I didn't go to the grocery store last week, so we ran out of food and had to order pizza. Also, Ella spit up all over her coat today, and I didn't notice it, so she wore it the rest of the day...and since I haven't done the laundry yet, the spit-up is still on her coat. Her ONLY coat. Hmm...that could be a problem tomorrow. Also, the dishwasher needs to be unloaded, my treadmill is broken (so no exercise!), the beds in the back yard are full of monster weeds because I haven't worked out there in ages, and the trash needs to be taken out. Also, even though it's cold outside, I still haven't switched to my fall/winter wardrobe yet in the closet because I haven't shed the pregnancy pounds yet.

And you know what? I'm not worrying about it. My baby is a happy little girl who plays, eats when she's hungry, and giggles a lot. I'll take it!

Also, as far as breastfeeding goes, I had the EXACT same thought with Ella. She had jaundice, so for the first couple months, it took FOREVER to feed her, and I thought she'd never grow out of it. Then, one day, she started eating much faster, and now if I can get her to nurse for even 7 minutes at a time, I'm thrilled. She eats SO fast! Just hang in there...this stage will be over before you know it.

I know that it's easy to feel guilty. I often struggle with guilt because I wish I could be a stay-at-home mommy who didn't have to work. I wish I could give Ella my full attention during the day. But the truth is that God has me in the place where He has me for a reason, and my focus is to be on serving him, NOT on serving my own need not to feel guilty. My attitude is right, just as your attitude is right - we want to serve Him by being good moms and by loving and serving our families. As long as we keep our focus on doing what He requires of us (which includes REST and self-care, which even Jesus practices very regularly!!), then He will honor our efforts and bless our families.

This guilt that we feel does not come from the comes from the enemy. So any time the devil tries to make you feel guilty, you just show him that little miracle baby that God gave to you and remind him of who is in charge of your life!