My top 5 thoughts for new moms, after my first year

If you know me at all, I take any chance I can to be reflective – think about growth, change, and life. Now that Elizabeth is 1, I’ve done a lot of reflecting! From the months that Troy worked out of town (until Elizabeth was six-months-old), to him finding new work, to building deeper relationships as a new mom and figuring out what I need in this new season of life to thrive – it’s been a huge year. I actually had friends tell me, “You need to decide what helps you thrive as a Mom.” It was liberating, the though that I was given the freedom to choose to thrive as a new mom. And a little scary. What? You mean, someone can’t just TELL me what to do? There isn’t a manual for every stage that I can follow?

For me, it goes without saying that as a new mom, I needed a lot of Jesus and a lot of coffee 😉  If you’ve followed along this passed year here, you may have seen the refining and drawing close that God has done in my heart.  The ways, or moments, I have found to still lean in to the Lord and learn more about Him. In my heart, I feel a deeper love for God than I did a year ago, and that makes me happy. Because that is His work in me, not of my own strength (because there has been reduced amounts of that this year!)   I think God holds new moms especially close, and I hope that you, as a future parent, give yourself a lot of grace as you grow in to a very important, amazing, challenging, and beautiful new role in life.

I read this the other day and thought it was so beautiful… Isaiah 40:11 (NLT), “He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”

This is for those of you moving into parenthood who maybe don’t have a lot of friends or siblings to glean from… Take what works for you, and hopefully it will help you along your journey xo

My Top 5 Thoughts For Future Moms…

  • Hormones are natural, okay, sometimes hard, and are just a part of the process

Sometimes I like a good cry, but if I don’t know WHY I’m crying, then I’d really rather not. Like, can we just get this over with and move on? The first month especially I would have random bouts of tears about who knows what, and I tried my best to embrace them as part of the healing process, but it isn’t easy! I had friends encourage me in those days that it’s okay to have a good cry – life has just drastically changed. But if you can look at hormones as a sign of life – our body regulating itself, changing as it needs – it’s actually a beautiful thing. Some things that are uncomfortable are meant for our healing and we just have to be okay with that. (key the soft music that signals that I am still majorly allowing the Holy Spirit to work on this in me!)

That said, it’s okay to cry. Lean in to your husband, let him hold you. Your body just gave LIFE so it’s going to take time, and changing of hormones, to re-regulate.

I also felt lots of anxiousness at times. I was so nervous about putting her in her car seat (hello new parent!), or driving with her on my own, at first. It seemed like such a daunting task to now have this little human to take everywhere with me! Worry about a new little human that is now in your care is natural, just make sure it doesn’t consume you, or that you have someone to talk to if it does. That said…

  • You NEED other moms

This isn’t even a suggestion, it’s an absolute necessity! They say it takes a village to raise a child, well, I think it takes a village to raise a mom!! Before and since Elizabeth, I have felt so surrounded by friends from advice to texts of “It’s okay, that’s normal” kind of thing. I also have a mom’s group at church, and have been blessed to have friends to do coffee and playdates with throughout this journey. Without a doubt that has eased my worries, questions, doubts and fears as a new mom. You need people who have been there before, even if every child is different.

  • Get used to change. It’s now constant.

Just when I felt like I was starting to get the hang of a schedule, or what Elizabeth was doing, she’d go and do something new! Or have a night, or day, where sleep was out of the question, and I had no idea why. I’d cram my brain, trying to think of what I’d done different or what may have thrown her off. But at the end of the day, I had to realize she’s a baby growing at rapid speeds, and it just is what it is.

I’d like to think that motherhood is teaching me to go with the flow more. A bit 😉 That’s not a natural state for me, so I am sure that part of my personality will continue to be challenged and grow as she continues to change!

  • You really will love every stage

I LOVED four-months-old. She was sleeping steadily, happy happy baby. Gave us her first giggles around that time. And then teething. And then eating. And then dropping a nap. And moving. But you know what? There was still something in each change that knocked our socks off with cuteness that we loved and adored. Even though I loved the first 12 months so so much, I know that as she grows into herself, we will keep loving every stage – challenges and all.

Aside from marrying Troy, becoming a Mom has been the best gift – and also demanded the most from me. Your time is no longer your own, and you learn to become super organized and multitask (not successfully every time! I have burned A LOT of things this year!) But it takes ALL of you. But it’s also thoroughly worth it. I know some day, when our babies are moved out, Troy and I will look back and think “those were the best years”, raising our family. So I intend to soak up every minute the best I can.

  •  Love your home, and get good at being at home.

Before Elizabeth was born, I was doing contract work from home – due to timing of getting married, my work, moving, etc. I wasn’t able to find full-time work, so I actually never had a maternity leave. God has been faithful to provide!

That being said, being home a lot before she was born was an absolute gift. I had a huge transition after we got married and moved and I went from working in an office full of colleagues, to working at home in a 500sq ft suite.  I’m sure glad we had our dog! It was a MAJOR adjustment, filled with a lot of emotion and learning to give myself some grace. If you want to read more about that season of life, you can buy my book here, called After I Do.

Had I not had that time to adjust, I can see how going from working full-time, maybe 2-3 weeks off, and then a baby arriving, can cause some people to spiral. What? I now have to be home alone all day with this baby? I think that if you can get used to being home a lot, and loving your four walls, then that will go a long way to helping your adjustment once baby arrives. Have some flowers, pretty pictures, nice pillows, or whatever… have some sanctuary. Because being a new mom, especially the first year, requires A LOT of home time, and you want to enjoy it as much as you can. Naps and sleep are a priority, so for me, there were a lot of days where either we didn’t go out, or we had quick one-hour errands and then back home again. I learned to shop for groceries online and schedule around her schedule as much as I could.

I think it was God’s gift to me to have some lengthy time at home before she arrived, as it helped me adapt when our little bundle arrived, because I was already quite used to being at home a lot!

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There you are friends…my top 5 thoughts if you are becoming a Mom (or Dad!) in the next little while. God is holding you close!

xo

In His grip

Dating was hard for me. There, I said it. Being the hopeful romantic that I was, alongside the ambitious-wanting to please the Lord and make something of my life kind of girl I was/am, I had a hard time just letting love happen.

When my husband Troy and I met (thank God for my husband!), there were phone calls and moments for me where I had this idea in my head of how things should look, and I really wrestled when they weren’t as expected. I so believe God wrote our love story and it has been perfect for us, but not without a lot of communication, forgiveness, giving and receiving. Pursuit of a heart isn’t always easy, even though the desire be there. Letting your heart be caught, on the other hand, also isn’t easy.

I wanted to make good and sure my heart was caught, held, captured, and treasured and it all needed to look like X, Y, Z. And that has definitely leaked into my relationship with the Lord.

Have you ever had a season, or years, where you felt like He was MIA, or just not GETTING you? Like, Jesus, You KNOW I want to love You and know You, so… could you just sweep up this mess and make me new? Like, today? That has pretty much been my lifelong silent prayer.

But you know what? As Priscilla Shirer once said, “God’s grip on you is stronger than your grip on Him.”

If you read the gospels, Jesus had purpose in every encounter, every quiet restful moment, every prayer, every relationship … it all had meaning. Everything He did was about us. For us. In pursuit of us. Out of love. He doesn’t need our toiling, like Matthew 6 cautions us against. He takes care of the lilies and the birds, He can surely take care of us. And in His pursuit of us, I believe it’s always to enable us to walk out His commandments more freely – to love Him, and to love our neighbour. (Mark 12:30-31).

You see – Jesus is always pursuing you. I believe it’s always to bring freedom to love and be loved. And more often than not, it looks different from what we expected. Ultimately, like my dating relationship with my husband, I had to let my heart be caught, and trust that a deep love was on the other end.

I believe that sometimes we walk through life trying to ensure that Jesus “gets” us, and hasn’t forgotten us. Trying to white-knuckle our grip on the Father’s hand so that He does what we want Him to. Can I hear an amen? I’ve done a lot of white-knuckling in my life. But I would rather be free to love and be loved. I would rather let Him pursue me and cleanse me.

And let His grip on me love me the best.

Elizabeth’s first birthday party

I know this blog is generally thoughts on faith and home, but how can I not share some pictures of our daughter’s first birthday?

We had about 40 people in our home (adults and children) including friends and family. I had started in January collecting some decor when I saw something I liked, but honestly didn’t spend a lot. I used a lot of things I had such as the pink shutters, burlap, lace swag for her high chair, clothespins, hats for the photo booth (my great-grandma’s!), vases, etc. My dress was even something I had, from living outside London, England eight years ago! Who would’ve known then I’d wear it for my daughter’s first birthday 😉 I bought her cutie dress here at Children’s Place and her headband here.

I ordered a cute happy birthday sign, some simple photo booth props, and some pink artificial flowers from Michaels. I bought some fresh baby’s breath, and did little gummy candy treat bags for the kids that came. I had decided to do a small cake for Elizabeth (chocolate with whipped cream icing and strawberries on top), and cupcakes for everyone else. I didn’t want to be cutting and distributing cake to that many people! I took my mother-in-law’s advice and kept food simple. Our party was from 3pm-5pm, so it wasn’t around a meal time. Aside from cupcakes, we had pink lemonade and coffee, a veggie tray, bowl of strawberries, and a yummy cheese and chilli dip with an assortment of crackers. It was simple and I’m thankful we did it that way, as next year we may just do hot dogs and balloons 😉

We are so very thankful for everyone who came to celebrate our girl! As the crowded room began to sing happy birthday, I choked up, holding back the tears. Everyone was standing here with us loving on our girl, and my heart was ready to explode. It’s indicative of the year we’ve had.

We weren’t just celebrating her first birthday, in my heart, this weekend’s celebrations were about becoming parents as well; to all the change it meant and how it has grown us. There’s no one else I’d rather by my side than Troy for this journey, and to have family and friends surround us this past year has been invaluable. Thank you all, you know who you are xo

Here are a few pictures of set up, her first taste of cake, and some guests…

Happy birthday sweet pea!!

 

 

 

 

Happy first birthday to our girl, Elizabeth Grace

Ok, so people were right – it flies by! So much change, so much joy, so much LEARNING and letting go! I wrote this little poem as an ode to our girl as we celebrate all that she is and all she’s becoming…

A girl who was curious from the beginning, pledged to God is what your name means.

Our hearts wept with joy when your lungs cried out, “you’re safe now,” I whispered in your ear.

We’ve had our parenting moments, of bliss and frustration.

No one can prepare you for the journey, they were right.

And we wouldn’t change any of it.

We watch you as you grow, personality coming alive.

Your Lizzie-isms make us laugh, you’re such a treasure.

This year has flown by, now here to embrace the girl you’re becoming.

But time, could you slow down, just a bit?

Know that Daddy and I are here, always, when you need a hand or hug.

I pray you love Jesus, have rich friendships, and a heart that is brave and tender.

I pray that you know great love, joy and peace… and a handsome prince… some day 😉

You are loved, wanted, and treasured, our Elizabeth Grace.

Love, Mommy xo