Dear Aubrey,

Thursday, October 9, 2014

This post is for you. Although promised months ago, this has been in the making for much longer than that. 14 1/2 years actually. That is when I had my first baby. I have come to understand a thing or two about raising children, but I now realize how much I have yet to learn.

Pregnancy is like the preliminary events leading up to the marathon of motherhood - the opening ceremonies. We spend nine months preparing for our lives to be changed in a way that no human could ever prepare for. The moment your new baby enters this world and is placed in your arms is the moment you will lose control. You will lose your heart first. Although you already love this tiny human, that love will explode more with each passing hour as you study and memorize every piece from tiny toes to cute button nose. Next, your time. Your world will be planned around eating and sleeping schedules. Your body - also not in your control even though the baby is now out, will at moments leak from several different orifices at once. You will continue to sustain this new life for the next while, sharing still your body with them. Your emotions - no control. You will feel things you never knew you could and do not understand why you are even feeling. Sound scary? That is not my objective. I simply mean to share some things with you that I wish my girlfriends had shared with me. The talk was all about pregnacy and labor. What about the after stuff? This is important stuff; THIS is how mothers are forged.

So here are a few of the things I have learned or better yet, that I am still coming to understand:

1. 6 weeks. At least. 6 weeks guilt free from the things you don't have time to do right now and free from pressure and comparison. Give yourself time to heal and recover. Our bodies go through more than we give them credit for. You are not in a race of "who bounced back fastest". Your tummy will contract on its own schedule. You clothes will not fit right away. You body has just performed the miracle of making and giving life. Let it recover. You and your baby will be happier. Rest. Sleep when you can. Eat. Cry when you need to. Drink water. And ask for help from those you trust.

2. Never before has a shower been so wonderful as after those first few weeks of having a baby. Ironically, it is one of the things that we seem to never be able to find the time for. Remember that although a shower cannot solve everything it can help with most things. You will almost always feel better after a shower!

3. One day at a time is now, more than ever, life's philosophy. That is all you need to live. And remind yourself that you will never get that day back. A day spent is a day gone. How will you most like to remember those days? Knee deep in things that don't matter or drowning in the delicious smell and velvety softness of a new baby?

4. Take advice, but consider the source. Something that worked for one person may not work for you. Absorb what you can from those you love, filter through it all and learn to trust yourself. You will find your path. People will say things and have opinions on just about everything. Just because they say it doesn't mean you have to take it, but do remember that most of the time they are simply trying to help.

5. Take lots of pictures and write things down. Moments you never think you will forget lose their crispness and become a whisp of a memory through this marathon you are now beginning.

6. As you fall deeper in love with your baby, it will be unthinkable for you to invision an instance where you could possibly be upset or even angry at this tiny piece of perfection lying in your lap. Trust me when I tell you that it happens to even the BEST mothers sometimes. You will not realize it right away. It is not the flick of a switch. But it will happen and you will catch yourself wondering when it did. It is not a threshold crossed but a transition through time - as baby grows into toddler and toddler into child and child tests the limits of our patience we will experience moments when we feel less than loving. The beauty of it is that Heavenly Father has designed us in such a way that, when needed, those first feelings of adoration can be recalled, and these memories soften our hearts once again to the state we would prefer to always remain. Remember, you are not perfect, but you are oh so good.

7. Remember there is no one right way to parent. This applies to and ranges from how you feed your new baby to what kind of diapers you use.

8. Remember to cherish your relationship with your spouse. Take care of him as he takes care of you.

9. Pray. Pray for help just to get through a day when you are exhausted upon waking. Pray for guidance along the way. Pray for your body to work and for your baby to grow and for your heart to stay soft. This is His child; as are you. You are His hands here on earth. He is your partner there up in Heaven. You are loved. He will help you learn compassion and forgiveness, charity, kindness, long-suffering, sacrifice and humility all through the eyes of this child.

10. Remember, this too shall pass. The good, the bad, and the beautiful. All of it is fleeting. Let this teach you to cherish the good, to get you through the bad, and to cling to the beautiful.

There are a thousand more things I would like to tell you. None of them are probably very important. It seems almost an impossible thing; giving advice to a new mom. And I am certainly unfit to give it. Your baby is your treasure not your trophy. Love that baby like there is no tomorrow; you will never regret it. It is in the letting go that we truly come to understand and rely upon our Heavenly Father and Savior. Maybe this is why we lose it when we have our babies. To help us understand that we are much better in His hands than in our own. But in all the "losing" we gain things we could not any other way; a deeper understanding of Gods love for us; an unearthly love for others; a clearer eternal picture. Then we come to understand that we really didn't lose anything at all - we gained godly gifts - the best of which comes in the form of a tiny pink package and shows to us things as they should be if we slow down enough to receive them.

So my last piece of advice: SLOW DOWN. There is a reason for and something to learn in all of this. Slow down and you will see.  

Love, Shelli

pink perfection

Friday, April 4, 2014

I feel like I've been waiting a lifetime for this baby. 
Late, but here at last, making her entrance, when she finally decided to do so, 
as fast as she could. 
From the moment she was born and I saw her face I felt as though I'd had this child before. 
She looks so familiar to me - almost as if a memory returning.

Violet Ever McCullough
Born March 24, 2014
8 pounds
at 3:36 in the wee hours of the morning
So perfect I can barely believe the miracle of life has happened all over again.

I may or may not get to a more detailed update as to how things are going; 
for now we are enjoying every single second of this most perfect piece of heaven
(and attempting to get as much sleep as she'll allow!).

count down

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Proceed with caution. 
This post may contain information you don't want to or need to know, but that I would like to remember.

6 weeks.

That is all I have left.

IF I deliver on time that is.

This has been the looooooongest pregnancy of my life. I feel as though I have been expecting forever.
It could be due to the fact that this time around we spent more time in deliberation than ever before. As my 35th birthday approached (13 months ago) I felt the desire for a new baby. My husband was quite sure that it was simply my maternal clock ticking, and at moments so did I. I wanted a baby, but was I really ready for another child? I wasn't sure for the longest time and I did not necessarily have a willing companion. And since I was not prepared to proceed without full consent, I waited.

Then one day, six months later, he came to me and said that he too wanted another baby. And so it began.

Now having passed my 36th birthday, I feel as though it is time I was about finished with this process already. As my due date approaches, my symptoms increase. It is always hard, but this time has been the hardest. First and foremost, I am tired - beyond tired. I have never felt this way . . . ever! I am tired while sitting down. This, combined with nausea, headaches, dizziness, back pain, and aching legs from varicose and spider veins, has tested my endurance.

I have also never been so emotional in all my life. I feel like crying (and frequently do) for no reason at all. On the other hand I have never felt happier or more blessed! It is one crazy mix of emotions. Which, to his eternal credit, I must say that Darren is handling with positive perfection!

But now onto the fun stuff. I have been having the best time preparing for this baby! My children all thought I was crazy when at 3 months pregnant (as soon as I was able to be somewhat mobile) I began planning and decorating the nursery; beginning with  moving the boys out and into another room. I knew that it would take me the whole rest of my pregnancy to complete this project. I planned and began to prepare for a little boy, so sure was I. But according to my ultrasound, another little girl was on her way. I then removed the beginnings of what I had already started for our son and started from scratch in the planning department. I have been sewing and decorating and ever so slowly working away to create a nursery for this baby. As more children have come to us and as our house has filled up, our last 2 babies have slept in our closet (which happens to be almost bigger than our 1st apartment). And we made due. This time, however, I wanted to have a real nursery, not because a baby cares, but because I do.

My goal was to put together this nursery as inexpensively as possible. We already had the dresser, the stool (Which is for Nya. She needs to be able to see her baby when she comes!), the bookshelf, the side table and some of the accessories, including the pillow forms. Darren cut out her initial from some MDF we had stored away, left over from past projects and a friend lent us the crib. We purchased a clock, the material for her bedding, the floor lamp, frames for the wall (which I filled with free artwork I found online, and some that I made myself - they will be hung around the room once the painting is complete), the diaper cart, crib sheets and a changing pad. The biggest item we purchased was the chair from Ikea. This is perhaps my favorite piece. It does not rock, but it is so very comfortable. We (the little kids and I) already use it all the time to read together in. All we have left to do is to finish painting the walls, otherwise we are ready and waiting for baby V.

  I will post more pictures once we are finished the painting - 
but just in case I don't get to it (which is entirely possible), here is what is finished so far.

  (Necklace made by Aunty Shannon)