The Thick of It :: Newborn Reflections


Not so long ago, we were driving with a nine-month-old Eowyn in the back seat. Somewhere between the mile markers, we meandered to the topic of blessed newbornhood.

Ben was the first to say it, but we both agreed: "I don't know if I like the newborn stage."

Back then, when we  had a considerable distance between us and those sleepless nights, it seemed quite alright to speak that truth.

The newborn cuddles are sweet and it's nice when the only requirement is to feed them, change them, and keep them clean. Remember how they just snuggle all day?! And the itty bitty clothes! Heart eyes.

But the lack of sleep. The newborn cries. The healing. The straight up delirium. The leaky, sore tender bits. The perpetual dirtying of all furniture and clothing. The constant mental battle of his needs, her needs, their needs. The straight up fog of it all.

Oh yeah...that. Newborn babies are hard. Well, at least our newborn babies are. God wasn't kidding when he said the curse would bring increase to our pains in childbearing.  It's all a bit more painful than I wish it would be.

This time around, I had high hopes that it'd be different; that I'd be different. I had friends who had 'harder' first born children and a super chill second. While the verdicts still out, it doesn't look like we'll be arriving in super-chill land. I thought perspective would hold its weight in gold and that we would handle the sleep deprivation and the juggling act like saintly pros. After all, we know it will end this time around.  We know that the newborn stage leads to the 4 month old stage, which leads to the stage where they start actually smiling. and laughing and being awesome. We much prefer that stage to this one; the staring blankly at your soul and breaking your heart with their crying.

But perspective doesn't hold its weight quite like I hoped it would and the sleep deprivation still sucks. (Side note: It makes total sense to me why governments use it for torture.) I, also, turns out still run quite poorly when functioning on two-hour increments of sleep. Womp. Womp.

And so the newborn equation produces the seas of emotions all new parents get to swim through. And they sure are some waves. Our toddler acts out loud what we all are feeling under layers of skin and slate faces. She's always had a flair for theatrics and seeing her act out what we're all feeling is simultaneously the most desperate sight and most honest-breath-of-fresh-air sight all rolled in to one.

"I know baby girl, this is all just...hard."

And then. God Bless. They ask the question. The question that levels a mom and makes her feel all sorts of inadequate if she doesn't have the right answer. "How's he sleeping?"

Yeah...we're praying about that.

It's easy to compare, yet it's hard to compare. The beauty of the haze is that one can't remember much after it. Was Eowyn harder than this? Easier? What week did she go 6 hours through the night? What did we do to soothe her in this season? Who knows. I'm still sorting through how a month has suddenly passed us by.

This child is both easier and harder, I think. He figured out his nights and days super fast and is in fact a better sleeper than our first, (again, I think...) but is more fickle in a myriad of other ways than I remember. It could be that he has to work through a shrieking, singing toddler during all his day hours...but, I digress. It's all a bit of unwrapping a personality and unraveling a momma's sanity.

But, as we all know, the pieces get put back together ever so slowly. We'll figure it out in time.

And so we dance through it. Literally and figuratively. Taylor Swift can get even the grumpiest of cats in this household to shake some hip. After a few songs, my little thunder puts her head to mine-nose to nose-and I know that we're having a moment of solidarity. "We got this." She gets quiet and I get brave.

And so we talk through it. I've learned to be more honest this time around without feeling the need to avoid the desperate glances. Letting the honesty land where it may.  I've learned vulnerability makes us all a little more able. I've learned more emotion words. I've learned it's okay if we feel really good and really hard things in the same body. I've learned feelings don't always require a follow up action to make them go away.

And so we laugh through it. The funny newborn faces, the leg and bum hair on our little man-baby. Eowyn's ridiculousness. Calling me "sugar" and annotating every show and book. Laughing when the diaper needs changing again and the sheets are getting washed more than they ever have, (and the mom of this house isn't getting washed as often as she should.)

And so we escape a bit from it. Ben is an even better dad this time around, and lets me leave often. I walk slowly to the store to get some milk, letting my head lighten with the cold air. I find pinterest recipes to make-just to do something that isn't baby related. We stay up late eating the product of those recipes, and watch silly shows and talk about politics and the world and sports (what the?!) and all sorts of stuff just to remind us that we are 'us' and they are them.

And so we pray through it. Every night with hands on his little head, praying for more than three hours. Pushing down the pride of wanting to have all our stuff together and laying it on the table through blurry eyes that we don't have our stuff together and this kid is something else entirely. But we know who created him. So we go back to his Creator. Oh, and Jesus please bless that first born who's been amazing through all this. We pray over our marriage and we confidently remind ourselves that just like every season of 'hard,' God has a way of making incredibly beautiful things grow out of it.

I'm well aware that just like all the other old ladies in the shopping malls, a newborn will once again, in a few years, conjure up glittery smiles and twitterpated glances from yours truly. I know that I'll reminisce when my toddler is defiant and I'll comment to Ben how it was so easy when he was just a newborn.

So in the meantime, I'll fight to inhale his little newborn self. I'll listen to his newborn cries and let them shake my heart and praise God for making me a mom again. I'll continue to give Ben my nightly update and my percentage of capacity every morning (running at 7%). I'll look my girl square in the face when she's doing so well and we'll cover ourselves in grace (especially when we're feeling edgy) because it's either that or we'll all get too ragged. I'll allow myself the big heavy sighs when baby spit up runs down my entire body, and the baby starts acting hungry again. We'll savor the sweetness of good food, and sunny skies and keep buying tulips to make it all feel a little lighter.

And I'll just keep taking pictures because I know I won't remember any of it and I'll keep repeating to myself "The only way through is through."

The only way through is through.

Mom & Bre Visit Helsinki!


My mom and sister came to Helsinki for a bit of a stay to help out with welcoming our little Elias. It was such a gift to get to have company, show off our boy, and give Eowyn some serious entertainment. :) There were lots of snuggles, laughs, and special presents had. My sister and mom know how to make us feel loved.

As part of their trip, I really wanted to be able to show Bre around a bit. While they both kept reminding me they were content with just staying put if needed, it was a real treat getting to show my big sis my favorite places, and show my mom some new sites as well. All of these pictures I took from them. Bre or my mom took a good 90 percent of these pictures-I'm still navigating the whole having two kids. So who knows how people take pictures with their hands full. That being said, all photo props to them.

Every year we do a 'girls weekend.' This would be the 4th one we've had running. While it wasn't the girls weekend persay, it was fun to go adventuring in Europe together-even if we live here now. Our first was in Chicago, then Wisconsin, then MN, and now Finland. :)

They went home this past weekend, with a house super cleaned (even the fuzzies from under my bed were destroyed) meals in my freezer, and a serious amount of clothing for both ms. E and the Elias  plus food goodies left behind. I'm grateful. The place feels empty having them gone, and Eowyn surely misses the snuggles and the wild ride it was having her Aunt Bre around. I'm missing them too. I'm nursing my sadness with the copious amount of chai they left me and Eowyn is digging into her giant jar of peanut butter and insisting on wearing her tutu around everywhere.  :)

We're counting down the weeks till we see them again this summer.

Becca & Tyler :: Funding Their Missing Piece


Several years ago, Ben and I, fresh into our marriage, met another couple who had gotten married right about the same time we did. Slowly, after months of being in the same small group, we grew to love them deeper than words express. They became some of our favorite people we have yet to meet.

We had Eowyn and they showered us with newborn clothes (none of which we had because we expected to have a bigger baby-I cried when I opened the present) and brought us noodles & Co. at the hospital. They talked and laughed with us through the hard fuzzy-eyed stages of newbornhood and held our baby when we needed a break. Becca encouraged me when Eowyn was fiest and fury and would melt down at small group. Basically, they loved us deep.  They acted as a fresh breath of air so many times, I can't even count.

They grieved with us when we had miscarriages, brought food and prayed with us through it. They're quite simply people that show up. I've heard it said before, "People don't remember what you say, they remember if you were there." With the Bairs, they've always been there.

They've been a bit of a cornerstone for our life these past several years. The classic parties (Halloween, Christmas, birthdays, board game nights) back stateside were always at the Bairs. They were honest about struggles and are quite simply our kind of people. Plus Becca has a wicked sense of humor, which gives me warm fuzzy feelings. And we've gone to rock concerts that Tyler plays bass in, so they're kind of our cool friends. If any of you readers go to Hope CC, you'll probably see Tyler playing every few months.

More than a year ago they started on the journey to adopt locally. This is exciting for a number of reasons. First, their heart for adoption has always been a big part of their story, so to see the process through these past several months has been exciting. Second, we've seen and learned so much of God's heart from hearing them talk about what it means to embrace someone through adoption and make them part of your family forever. We've seen new sides of Jesus and his character towards others because of their experience through this. We've benefited from the work God's done in their hearts through this process.

I asked Becca if it was okay to share a bit about their story, especially since they're raising money for all their adoption costs. I never knew how expensive it was until asking her to break it down for me. (Nor did I understand how emotional the whole process of adoption is!) She said she was willing to let me share, so I wanted to let all the readers of this blog know about them and encourage you all to pray about being a part of their story.

The updates on their site are fun to follow along, and give a really great glimpse into what it's like to go through the adoption process. . It's fun to read her thoughts and to see how God is working in their hearts through waiting and hoping for their little baby. It's pretty fun getting to call her "Mama Bair."

If you have a heart for adoption, feel prompted, or want to help an amazing couple, would consider blessing the Bairs and donating?  If you're willing, pop on over to their site. Here's the link to read more about their adoption story, a break down of the costs and to donate.

It's always said that no amount is too small. The reason why it's always said is because it's true. Even giving your coffee up today to help get them closer to that baby would be a big deal.

Cheers to getting to be a part of a beautiful story. I'm grateful we've gotten to be a part of theirs. I'm excited to meet their son or daughter.

On Being Loved & Being Exhausted :: Three week update!


We're three weeks deep into the land of four heartbeats in this house. We've had friends bring us food, family come to visit and love on us and we're slowly becoming comfortable with the awkward dance of toddlerhood meets newbornhood.

Back when Eowyn was around 10 months, a friend of ours commented to us, in the thick of newbornhood with his second, how easy we had it. He commented that having two was waaayyy harder than having one. He pulled the card that every person reminiscent of earlier days pulls. "Enjoy it now while it's easy."

Except it wasn't easy then. I was overwhelmed and in the thick of it then, We had just found out we were pregnant with our second, and I was a wee bit scared terrified, especially if this was 'easy.'

While we all know the story played out quite differently than my fears predicted, and we didn't have to face the two under three challenge until now with an Eowyn who is a nice sprightly "two half" year old, things weren't easy then, and they aren't easy now.

BUT, the God that carried us through the struggles then is doing the same now. He's overwhelmed my heart and opened my eyes to just how blessed we've been. Our labor with Elias, the friends that have blessed us with food and company, my sister and mom coming to visit, even our marriage has a grace to it that when we first entered the newborn days with our little miss E, we didn't experience.

Ben in a stroke of genius decided to split his week of vacation time into two halftime weeks, giving me a near month of help with my sister+mom, his one week of paternity, and these two weeks of halftime. The freezer meals we planned have gotten us through, and now that they're dwindling, we have friends that are bringing us meals near every other day this week. We've just been really blessed with this transition.

Ben and I are both pretty exhausted. But, that's kind of the rite of passage with newborns. Ben is much more gracious about his lack of sleep than I am. I turn into a she-beast after one two many days without a nap. I'm learning. The fire-breathing has, thankfully, been to a minimum.

Elias is pretty cool as far as newborns with blob-like tendencies go. There's been moments when the only calming force has been his sister, which is flustering, but sweet all the same.  He has a banshee shriek like none I've ever heard, but we're rolling with it. He definitely wont be shadowed by his sister. The two of them have an innate ability to make themselves known.

Eowyn has been amazing. She loves to hold him and gives him kisses and hugs. He also 'tickles' her often (whenever he touches her.) The only downside is whenever he starts crying she screams and informs us he's hungry. She's doing a great job of watching out for her little bro. He most certainly will not miss his next meal.

I'm doing decent. Recovery isn't as easy this time around, but that might be due to pushing out a 9 pounder vs a nice polite 6 pound 13 ouncer. Also, toddlerhood is a wild crazy ride. I'm refusing to think to myself how 'easy it was with a toddler', or how easy all those new mom's get it when they just have to deal with one. Because I remember just dealing with one newborn, and man-o-man it was just as hard, actually...I think it was harder. I remember crying to Ben that the sleep deprivation would. never. end.  I also refuse to compare tiredness to Ben because we all know nothing starts a war in a home like comparing fatigue and who's doing more. Thankfully, this time around we're wise enough to ask for help and laugh it off when our ears seem to literally not be working anymore.

Praising God for grocery delivery, sweet Finnish women who comment how beautiful our baby is, the grace to say 'no' to things these past few weeks (with Eowyn I assumed we needed to resume life STAT) and the wisdom of Ben when he decides that rather than (for the millionth time) talking through the latest newborn/toddler problem, we watch funny shows instead. Duck dynasty has been a recent fav. Nothing like a bit of 'Merica to lift the spirits.

Oh, and the store down our street sells pop-tarts. We hadn't had pop-tarts for three years, and on a whim we bought then when we went to get Elias' passport photo (which, by the way, is AMAZING!) Now we keep raving about those sweet pastries like we're 10 again. So much deliciousness in a shiny, silvery bag.

So, I'd say three weeks in, things are going quite well.