Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"You were my life"

I love how God is using this tiny baby to purge me of so much selfishness in my life of which I was previously unaware. Day by day, Cason and I are being changed and understanding so much more about parenting and sacrificial love. People say you don't appreciate your parents fully until you become a parent. I always heard that, but thought "Oh I love em so much now, I know what they did for my sisters and I, etc etc." Surprise, surprise, I was wrong. :)

When our pediatrician said I could start pumping for bottles for Madeleine, my mom was telling me about how she waited too long and I wouldn't take a bottle, so she nursed me for my entire first year. Jokingly, I said "Mom you must've had no life." She looked at me, and very thoughtfully but matter-of-factly said "You were my life." Those words really resonated with me. They have been echoing through my heart since that conversation. I think when I thought about becoming a mom, I thought about making major changes to my life or making her a big part of my life, but not the sacrifice it would take to really have her be my life. There have been lots of things that have come up with Madeleine - I have mentioned them to mom and she would empatheically but practically say "Oh you and your sisters used to do that all the time." Sorry, mom. :)

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should forfeit everything for our babies - our relationships with the Lord, our marriages, our identities, our interests, our friends...but it takes more sacrifice than I bargained for. Especially in these first few weeks - she cries and I am up, trying to solve whatever quandary in which she's found herself, even if that's spitting out her pacifier 5 times during one nap. I thought I would be so much more productive as a stay-at-home-mom, but there's no more "I'm just going to run to the store real quick," or "I think I'll put up Christmas decorations/clean the bathrooms/make dinner." Things get done in pieces and they take a lot longer than they used to. As her schedule is refined and she grows, I might be able to get more done someday...maybe not. I know all you veteran moms out there are chuckling to yourselves, maybe remembering the moments when you learned this lesson. Oh how valuable it is, but how difficult. Brokenness from the Lord is such a blessing, but the process is not always so much fun.

The good news is, Madeleine did keep me company as I decorated the house for Christmas. It wasn't the day after Thanksgiving, and it took a lot longer, but this is my life now, and I'm thrilled to be her mom.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy 1-Month Birthday, Madeleine!

Dear Madeleine -

I can't believe you are one month old today! You have grown up so much since we brought you home from the hospital.

God is using you, baby girl. He is already using you to teach your parents about selflessness, humility and letting go of control. Your mom prays so much more now. :) How can someone so tiny bring us to a place of such inadequacy, apart from the Lord? Oh it's hard but it is refreshing. Our lives are completely revolving around you right now. He is using you to bless your parents and other family and friends. You are such a source of joy, sweet girl! I am thrilled when you go down for your nap or go to bed for the night, but I get excited to see you again when you wake up because I miss you!

Your favorite accessories are your hats, your pacifiers and Mom's Moby wrap. You feel so warm and secure in your hats - falling asleep quickly and generally being comfortable in them. In the past few days it's been quite warm so you haven't been wearing them as much, but generally you love them! Your pacifiers are a hot commodity. Some days you don't want them, but most days you do. Some days you are very practical with your pacifiers - many times you suck on them simply until you feel appropriately soothed, then you spit them out right before you fall asleep. The Moby wrap might actually be your mom's favorite accessory. You get in that thing and get all snuggled up - you go right to sleep, making trips to Target or Kroger a piece of cake!

You've gotten so much more interactive. You gave me your first big smile this morning when I got you out of your crib and put you on your changing table. You are making so many fun noises - little grunts and squeals, and they are so cute! You make so many facial expressions, and you show me with your face exactly how you are feeling - especially when you take your vitamin D each morning. Yuck, mom! You enjoy looking at mobiles or even brightly colored fabric. Erin made you a bird mobile, but you also love staring at the beautiful quilt she made. I've been leaving it draped over your crib when we aren't playing on it - that way you get to just stare at it. You love your crib. Sometimes I can put you in there and you will stay in there, quite content, for a good while. As long as there is music on and you can stare at something lovely, you are a happy camper.

You are sleeping and eating so well! Your schedule is still pretty malleable - you'll fool me and have the exact same schedule for 5 days in a row, then you'll change it. It's not a big deal though - you eat about every 3-4 hours in the day, and you give me at least one long stretch at night of 6-7 hours. That makes me a happy mama! You love your bottle time with your dad when he feeds you at night. We are also wondering if you are outgrowing your swaddle - sometimes you love it, but many times you love to wriggle your way out.

You are so strong! At your 2-week appointment, Dr. Koush recommended starting tummy time, and we do that every day. You enjoy your playmat and you just stare at everything dangling from the top of it. Your attention span has grown in such a short time. I was quite amused when you discovered your reflection. You also love bathtime, and I love your sweet baby smell.

You've had lots of doting visitors - our loving friends and family. Our Veritas friends have been an incredible blessing, bringing us so many meals. I have not cooked since you were born (that will change as I make some Thanksgiving contributions!) Just this past weekend your Great Grandma Carole and your Great Aunt Jessie and Great Aunt Sylvia came to visit all the way from Plano and Austin. We had so much fun together! Your AJ came home from Baylor and hung out with you today - she sang you to a sweet, peaceful sleep.

Your Great Grandma Carole got you this hat and a shirt that say "Born to Read." She's a retired librarian and has already gotten you so many good books!

I love getting to know you, Madeleine Annmarie. Thanks for letting me hang out with you all the time.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Watching him fall in love

I never thought I would say this, but I love watching my husband fall in love with someone else...our sweet daughter. This man is just smitten with our little girl, and I know he will continue to be such an amazing influence in her life. He sings to her, talks to her and just does such a good job loving on her. He even comes home from work to have lunch with us. I am forever grateful.

This is when they first met:

This is when they cheered on the Rangers to the World Series:

They love morning cuddles:

I pump a bottle/day so that Cason and Madeleine can have a meal together - this was the first one:

Reading a book:

Morning playtime:

Time for a walk:

Madeleine, you are one lucky little lady to have Cason for your dad. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Crawling out of the Newborn Trenches and meeting the Commander-in-Chief

"Hey cut me some slack - I'm new here!"

Madeleine is almost one month old. I already feel like she's growing up so fast...but it didn't feel that way last week.

What a difference a week makes, too. Last Wednesday, I couldn't answer the question "How are you?" without choking up and starting to cry. I was exhausted. I called my dear, dear friend Ally. She said "Oh it sounds like you're in the newborn trenches." It was a term she'd heard from a friend. That's exactly what it was like, especially for about a week. It's the time where you have to take it not just a day at a time, but a feeding at a time, a nap at a time, just muscling through and sticking it out. I asked myself so many questions - why won't she wake up? Why won't she go to sleep? Should I give her a paci? Should I not give her a paci? Didn't she just eat? Is she hungry or just wanting to be soothed? It feels like you are going to be stuck there, in this uncertainty and insecurity forever. I also felt so guilty - all in all she is a really good baby with no major issues - why couldn't I just suck it up? So many sweet friends have checked in on me - veteran moms who know exactly what this is like. My friend Laura is the Babywise guru - I mean, she is tough and her sweet baby Emma has benefited from it. She was so helpful to email me encouraging tips and concepts. While I tried to implement as much as I could, I did have to learn to let go of some things, especially last week. Sometimes, no matter how I tried, Madeleine did not want to have awake time after certain feedings. That was A-OK - I enjoyed the naps she took on my chest - I am just fine with that - how I treasure that time! I think those are my favorite - she's all nestled in there, the cuddliest little chicken of them all.

The first week was hard because we were both trying to figure out breastfeeding. My mom was invaluable for this stage. So encouraging. It was especially frustrating right before my milk came in. That baby was ready for milk, not colostrum anymore, and I was ready for her to get it too! Of course once my milk came in there were a couple nights where it looked and felt like a water balloon popped in my bed - that was awesome, let me tell you. But, my body adjusted and so did she. The second week - she slept a lot (but during the day!) and she was at least getting a little bit closer to a schedule. The third week was a growth spurt (read lots of erratic feeding and not much sleep...and frazzled new mom!) I have been totally out of my element and learning to rely on the Lord to be strong in my many weaknesses!

Anyway, here we are in week four and what a glorious week it has been. I may have to bite my tongue, and she may wake up to eat five times tonight, but there is hope! I feel like she's finally "getting it," and I am so encouraged! She's now sleeping in her crib, putting herself to sleep, drinking one pumped bottle per day, breastfeeding like a champ and getting up just once in the night. She's more alert in the day, and much sleepier at night. Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Monday Sasha babysit her so that I could join Cason at a Baylor Business Network luncheon with President Ken Starr, and Tuesday my parents watched her so that we could go to the HBU gala with President George W. Bush. Y'all, I just love that man. I've really enjoyed all his interviews lately about his new book, and his presidency was special to my family with Linnet having the opportunity to serve as Ambassador to the World Trade Organization during his first term. I also attended his second term inauguration, and loved how during the time I was at Baylor, he held some different international meetings on our campus. I also loved seeing all the military helicopters fly over whenever he was landing at the Waco airport for a visit to Crawford. For those piddly reasons, I feel close to his presidency. I had the opportunity to shake his hand last night and chat with him for a minute. I told him about how I was related to Linnet. He said "I didn't know she had a granddaughter, and a real pretty one at that. You give Linnet my best - she's a good woman, and damn smart. Damn smart." :) What an amazing president he was. I truly hope that history shows his character, integrity and intelligence. He gave a wonderful speech and the Q and A time was fascinating as well. I know he has a lot of critics, and I understand that, but I am just smitten.

So nice of Madeleine to let her parents go out for the evening :) P.S. - shopping for a formal dress three weeks after giving birth is not an experience I'd recommend to any woman. :)

Here's to crawling out of the trenches and getting on with our new lives, roles and our sweet little baby girl.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

2 weeks old!

It's hard to believe that Madeleine is already 2 weeks old - officially on Sunday of course, and she had her 2-week check-up today. Our goal was to have her to return to her birth weight (apparently babies lose weight in the hospital, after their swelling goes down, etc.) and thankfully, she regained it and then some! We have the green light from Dr. Koush to let her sleep at night as long as she'll go - not that it'll be long, but it's a step in the right direction! Here are her 2-week stats:

Weight: 9 lbs. 9 oz. (85 percentile)
Height: 21 1/2 in. (87 percentile)
Head circumference: 14 1/4 in. (54 percentile)

These two weeks have been quite a blur, but full of precious memories. We have been so blessed by friends and family visiting and helping us out. We've certainly been sleep deprived, I've had my highs and lows with breastfeeding, and thankfully I've had just one or two little breakdowns. Madeleine's seen the Rangers play in the World Series, and she's watched the Baylor Bears as a ranked team! She's had some of her first baths and she's had her first photo shoot (both with mom and with Sarah - preview pics coming soon!)

Cason and I are learning so much about putting this tiny person ahead of our own needs. Yep, parenting. He was really cute when he said "sometimes you just get interrupted with what you are doing in order to care for her." Yep. Especially sleeping. :) I'm not going crazy being at home - of course I'd love to get on a schedule soon, but as far as hanging out with Mads and the kitties, I'm loving it. Work was really hard and kept me so busy right until that last day I was there before she was born, so I think that helped.

Here are some more pics!

The view from our hospital room - Houston, are you ready for Madeleine? :)
Aw that face - still working on the focusing.
Yep, I think she's perfect.

Early morning cuddles with dad.
4 generations!
Madeleine's Great-Gran and Great-Granpa
This last picture is very important - despite the fact that I couldn't get it to rotate the right way. Our church is expanding and renovating the children's wing. We had the opportunity to go write on the foundation the names of children that we will be praying for to come to know the Lord. We wrote Madeleine's name, then "and future children and grandchildren of Cason and Allison White." We know Madeleine (and hopefully other children of ours) will spend lots of time in this area of the church, and it is so important to us that from an early age she will become aware of the Lord's calling on her life.

Praise God for these first two weeks - we can't wait to watch her grow!