“If it isn’t already, crisis will become a part of your marriage.” Now think about your life before you married your spouse. How was it? Good times and bad times, am I right? So we can all forget the whole fantasy of life being a bowl full of cherries all the time. Good, now we can also give our spouse a break on being imperfect, and when things get ugly we can all agree no matter who we are with, how long we are with them, how deep we love them, crisis is bound to surface the relationship. How we respond during crisis is what keeps a marriage held together or completely depletes it. No one says over one thing, “I want a divorce.” It is a sequence of many crisis situations that have been dealt with the wrong way or even worse they have never been dealt with at all. How would you like to get up to bat and the pitcher says you are out before he even throws you a ball? This is the toxic and destructive silent response. You go days with out talking, nights with out holding one another close, and you wait until time passes to cool off or just finally forget about it. The problem with this is that it will never be resolved and your spouse will most likely continue to hold it against you for when the next feud happens. Some of us when crisis arises our initial response is with anger. We raise our voice, maybe we curse, and usually those of us who respond with anger do not think before they speak. Before you know it words you wished you wouldn’t have said have been. For our wedding anniversary I wrote Andy a series of letters titled, “Open When.” One of these letters is open when, “You need a reminder why you love me.” Another one is open when, “You need a reminder why you are a great husband.” Couple days before our anniversary I was talking to Andy on his way home from work and we got into a very heated argument. We argued until we hung up on each other and when he got home he went one direction and I went the other. As I was cooking dinner I thought back to the letters I had written the previous days before. I grabbed both letters and slipped them under the door of the room Andy was in. After he read the letter Andy found me in the kitchen and confronted me with a hug I will never forget. We both were sorry before we could even begin talking about our issue again. He handed me the letters and told me he only read, “When you need a reminder why you are a great husband.” A part of me wanted him to read the letter why he loved me, but Andy knew he loved me, and a part of me hoped he would never have to open that letter. When crisis appears one of the most difficult things we have to deal with is forgiveness. Whether we need to forgive someone or we need to be forgiven, somewhere in the midst of crisis we should find neutral ground. Sometimes people do things that seem unforgivable. Sometimes we ourselves have said things, done things, that we wished we could take back. Everyone has done something shameful. We all have had nights that when we lay in bed at night all we can think about is this shameful thing and pray to God that he forgives and shows mercy on us. “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Mathew 6:15” This scripture is black and white. There is no grey, so just because you may think well I have every reason to not forgive, to hold onto past feuds, or never look at someone the same again. Remember you are cutting yourself short from being forgiven in return. Crisis will happen in your marriage. How you choose to communicate with your spouse on what your wants and needs is what keeps a strong foundation. Wouldn’t it be so much easier knowing that when you or your spouse thinks differently on an issue, there is no worry of how he or she will react. You both have an agreement to talk to each other in a loving way trying to understand what the other needs rather than getting angry or making them feel guilty. Agree to let go of past issues and when another comes up deal with it then and let it be done. Whole-heartedly forgive and you will see then how much easier it is to live without obsessing over others faults.
For the first three months Lilah was still waking up in the night every 2-3 hours and by month four I was so exhausted and tired I was willing to try just about anything to get her to sleep longer. I started my journey with sleep training right when she turned four months and I will advise that it is not really recommended to start sleep training until they are at least 4-6 months and they are ready to drop their night time feedings. The first step was to establish a routine. Now before I had somewhat of a routine that consisted of her going to bed around the same time and waking up around the same time but as for naps I pretty much just let her nap when she wanted and wake up when she wanted. Around three months I did start to notice she no longer would fall asleep by just sitting in her bouncer or swing and I had to start rocking or singing her to sleep. I found the website babysleepschedule.net that has samples of schedules for babys by age and it was extremely helpful to have a guide of how much sleep your baby should be having. So for Lilah’s age she should be eating every 3-4 hours, staying up between naps a maximum of 2 hours, and having a bedtime no later than 7:30. I was shocked after reading how long her wake time should be because it just didn’t make since to try to get her to sleep more in the day and I thought the more you kept them awake the better they would sleep. I also found it absurd to put her down so early because wouldn’t that put her waking up for the day extremely early? But even as crazy as all of this information sounded I was willing to test it and I was ready to catch up on some much needed rest. Now the second key is teaching your baby how to self-soothe. This was definitely the hardest part because it required all naps to be in her crib and you had to put her down while she was still awake. So no more singing/rocking her to sleep and no more gently placing her down in the crib after nursing her. Now go ahead and prepare yourself for a lot of crying and don’t be surprised if you get to a breaking point and start crying yourself because it seriously is torture to sit and here your sweet beautiful baby cry for you but keep reminding yourself that this will in return equal sleep and a happier baby. Don’t be alarmed if the first nap you put them down for turns into a screaming battle of 45 minutes. As long as your baby has been fed, they have a clean diaper, and they are not in pain they are fine! But your baby should after a couple of naps get the message that they have to take naps now and the crying will usually only last 10-15 minutes. A few things I found helpful was to give her a pacifier, a cozy stuffed animal to snuggle up to, and I kept her door shut. I also purchased a planner to keep up with what time I fed her, what time she went down for a nap, and what time she woke up. Now it is okay to go in after 5 minutes to check on them and reassure them they are okay by patting them on the back or making the shhh.. noise but keep it to a minimum and do not pick your baby up. One big thing is to try not to put your baby down when they are overly tired. This will only result in more crying and not as good sleep. Look for cue’s that tell you that they are getting sleepy. Eye Rubbing and yawning are pretty good indicators. Be flexible and don’t go directly by the clock but use it as a guide. Sometimes Lilah will go 2 hours of wake time and then sometimes it’s only an hour and a half when I notice the eye rubbing. Do not get discouraged if after a couple of days all this has resulted in was more stress and no results. Trust me I felt the same way but after a week she finally slept through the night! I put her down at 7:00 p.m. and at 10:30 I give her a dreamfeed which is where you pick up your sleeping baby, feed them, and then tuck them back in bed. After that feeding she doesn’t wake up until 7:00 a.m. the next morning. It’s been about 2 weeks and I’ve started to try dropping the dreamfeed and last night for the first time she went completely without waking up around 10:00-10:30 for her dreamfeed. She went down at 6:30 p.m. and did not wake up until 6:00 a.m. If you are convinced that letting your baby cry it out is cruel then sleep training is not for you. To each their own but here are some benefits to sleep training.
- better sleep for you and your baby
- they learn to put themselves back to sleep when they are accidentally woken up
- they learn to regulate their mood and when they learn this skill colic and fussing can lessen
- babies who are sleep trained are believed to become toddlers that manage their tantrums better and as older children are less impulsive and concentrate better in school
For me this has been such an amazing change. It is so nice that I know when Lilah is going to take a nap and it helps me plan my day so much better. Now that she has scheduled naps I’ve noticed she will take even longer naps. She went from 30 minute naps to now she can take 2 hour naps. Usually her first morning nap is this long which gives me some mommy time! Also by putting her down for the night around 6:30-7:00 it gives me time to hang out with just Andy and get to really relax before going to bed. Lilah hardly ever fusses now and I’m very happy and well rested myself!
One question we should all ask ourselves is was I happy before I met my spouse or had children? Now a healthy answer would be, “Yes I was truly happy with just being me, but when my spouse came along life was even better, and when I had kids I was even happier.” Some of us feel like well life pretty much sucked before I met my husband or I never felt like I was worth anything until my kids came along and constantly needed me. If you answered yes to the second part then you probably also have the tendency to rely on those people to bring you joy and fulfullment. Without them you have a hole and no purpose. You probably also still haven’t found who “You” are and what makes “You” unique. Before I married Andy he made one thing clear, “I love to hunt, that’s who I am, that’s who I always have been and you will never change that part of me.” Now obviously there was a reason for this conversation to come up and it was simply because every time he went hunting I just wasn’t happy being by myself. I didn’t know how to just be me. I still hadn’t found who I was as a person. I’ve learned that alone time is actually one of the most rewarding times you can have in a busy day. It’s the perfect time to focus on you. So maybe go buy a new outfit, read something that inspires you, or go for a run. Whatever it is do something to better yourself. No that does not mean sit around doing laundry all day and feeling like you are the only one not having fun around your house. Have you ever been to a funeral and thought when you left, “I can only hope one day when I pass mine would be something like that.” They lived a good life, they made a difference, and they made a name for themselves. What comes up when people say your name? Maybe you feel like your identity is haunted by a past, or is associated with being a needy person, a bad friend, a nagging wife, a lousy worker, or maybe you are unnoticed in other people’s lives. God changed Jacob’s name meaning,”supplanter” to “Israel” meaning, “having power with God.” Genesis 32:28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” What will your name be? Find who you are and you will find happiness outside of other people. Don’t be suprised if this isn’t easy. If you wan’t to lose weight you have to work out and eat right. No one gets fit by doing nothing.
Now in the beginning of my relationship with Andy I could have easily answered this question with, “Any man would be lucky to be married to me. I am fun, easy going, always dressed to impress, never too tired for sex, and I can easily make my husband my number one priority. As we all know life can get busy and messy really fast and it is easy to forget why we married each other in the first place. Life is always changing and being married means forever growing with someone. I remember before Lilah was born Andy had made the comment, “We are never having toys strolled all over the house.” About three months after we had Lilah sure enough her toys had taken over half the living room, and I was sitting folding my stack of laundry that seemed to never leave the couch, I was wearing yoga pants because my jeans still didn’t fit me without giving me a muffin top, my hair had literally been in an unwashed pony tail for three days, dishes were piled in the sink, and my husband had suddenly taken a moment to see the beauty in all the chaos. He let out a sigh of relief and said, “I love our messy house.. it finally feels like home.” To me that meant the world. It was reassurance that it didn’t matter anymore to him if he came home to a perfectly polished house and wife. Life wasn’t anything like the beginning of our relationship and maybe even after just one year we had both changed in different ways. What was it like to be married to me after having a baby? What would Andy say years from now about the kind of wife I was to him? Did I still feel like any guy would be lucky to have me? How did we treat each other the first few years as parents? Did I let stress and life with a baby over take my priority relationship with my husband? Did we laugh over spilled milk or did we cry? “When we are at the beginning of a relationship it is difficult to think of the end.” If you have kids you know life goes by fast and they grow in just a blink. I feel like I still just brought Lilah home from the hospital and now she is already rolling over and sleeping in her own room. When it comes to our kids we want to cherish every second of them. Our spouse shouldn’t be any different. It should be that same unconditional love that we feel for our kids. They should bring us the same joy and excitement because in a blink of an eye you will be sitting across the table from each other at your ten year anniversary, and then twenty year, and so on. What will you have to say about each other when that day comes?
After entering motherhood I did not realize I was entering a competition. From the moment we are pregnant we are flooded with decisions to make and with that comes many different opinions. The truth is we all know what is best for our children and everyone else’s. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Well when we put it in those terms it doesn’t sound right, but isn’t that what we are all really saying when we use the phrase, “I can’t believe she is doing that.”
- I can’t believe she isn’t going to try breastfeeding
- I can’t believe she is STILL breastfeeding
- She is crazy for not getting an epidural
- Her baby uses her as a pacifier
- You really shouldn’t Co-Sleep
- Her baby wants to eat every hour something must be wrong
- Wow that baby looks overweight
- Yikes her baby is small
- She is seriously a germaphobe
- She is way too carefree
- Poor baby never has a bow in her hair
- Poor baby’s bows are too big
- What is that kid wearing
Okay I could go on and on. Point I’m trying to make is when we stop and think of how many times we say these things or hear other mothers say these things we are not doing anyone any favors by gossiping. If anything we are creating more stress in our own lives by worrying about others. If we could just all agree on one thing it should be this, that each mother is doing what they think is best for their child and no one is wrong for wanting to do things differently than the next person. No mother should have to live with the anxiety of what are the other mothers saying about me. If you find yourself judging another mother, which we are ALL probably guilty of from time to time, try and remember you wouldn’t want someone saying things about the way you do things or the way your child looks and stop the conversation. “To each their own.”
After giving birth to Lilah I realized my life was definately never going to be the same. I had a new role as Mom, my husband as Dad, and our parents as grandparents. I think the question all new Moms ask themselves is, “How am I going to find balance for my new life.” Between feeding my new infant every 2 hours, keeping up with house duties, the overwhelming loads of laundry from the many baby blow-outs and spit-up, cooking dinner, visitors, trying to shed baby weight, and lets face it those hormones are a little off as well. Where do I find balance? As far as the first 2 weeks after birth I was in a lot of pain from recovery and luckily my husband was off work to help with Lilah and keeping things around the house in order. We also had a lot of friends and family that brought us meals so dinner was covered. But after the first 2 week rush I had to find my own routine for our new little family. I would like to give the advice sleep when the baby sleeps, but as most new moms know THAT NEVER HAPPENS! So if you can awesome! But if you are anything like me I found it hard to take a nap once I was awake. One thing I changed to help balance my new life was how many cleaning duties I did per day. I made a weekly list and set only 1 to 2 duties per day. As far as cooking I either cook very quick easy meals or ones that will give us plenty of leftovers for a couple of days. Now probably the toughest one was balancing visitors. Sometimes it really is hard to learn to say, “No I’m sorry we need a day alone.” But you have to find a happy medium between getting alone time with your spouse and baby while also letting those who love and care about your baby see her or him as well. In the beginning after the first 2 weeks we still had guests wanting to come by during the week so I made a rule that anyone who wanted to come by and see Lilah had to come the same day around the same time. Now this worked for us because we would have rather had a house full of guest at the same time as opposed to have one guest every day. Now that Lilah is 3 months it has slowed down and it’s no big deal if someone wants to pop in and see her because it just doesn’t happen as often anymore. One thing I found helpful was asking grandparents what their expectations were as their new roles. Sometimes our expectations for them as grandparents don’t match up with theirs and you need to communicate to find a balance between the both. Even though yes you are the parents and you have the ultimate shots on calling what goes on with your baby and how often people get to see them, but you also have to remember the people who want to be a part are doing it out of love and not out of trying to over step boundaries. Being able to communicate with each other will give everyone a better sense of understanding for one anothers wants and needs. Now this goes for friends coming by as well. Setting boundaries letting friends know they can’t come by every weekend is TOUGH, but limiting friends time to maybe every other weekend or once a month get together is sometimes a good way to set a balance. One thing Andy and I did was set a bed time. I put Lilah down every night at 8:30-9:00, so for us we have the understanding of leaving always by 8:30. Now as far as trying to shed baby weight, breastfeeding helped shed most of mine. I was finally cleared to work out after 10 weeks but I knew going to the gym was out of the question and jogging with the baby was not ideal. I found that yoga for me was the answer. I could do a yoga sequence for as less as 15 minutes or as long as an hour without ever having to leave the house. I found that Pinterest had tons of tutorials and also started following yoga masters on Instagram to help teach myself. Yoga has definately been my way to wind down and relax at the end of the day or prepare my mind for the start of my new day. One thing I have learned about being a Mom is that every Mom is different and everyones advice doesn’t always work for everyone. So take what can from my experience!