Dec 11, 2013

5 Ways to Encourage New Moms

I have loved many, many aspects of motherhood. I love watching this baby - the one I worked so hard at growing and developing inside me - grow and develop outside of me. I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when he meets or exceeds the expectations of him listed in the books. I wake up to see his smile grow as I inch near his crib in the morning. I can't wait to go pick him up from daycare in the afternoons. I love that his head turns and looks around when he hears my voice in the room.

I love all those things and more, and I love him more than anything living or breathing on this planet. 

But the one thing I didn't expect to feel is lonely. And mentally exhausted. And the need to see just a snippet of my old self through spit-up covered clothes, feeding schedules, and baby toys scattered through the living room.

And as a new mom, it's hard to know what to expect. Yes, even with all of the What to Expect books out there.

So if you know a new mom, here are five ways you can encourage her through this new journey.

1. Don't stop the phone calls, emails, or text messages. Once the first month or so comes to an end, the visitors thin, the dinners stop coming, and the buzz and excitement about the new baby dies down a bit. You might think she's too busy or maybe you don't want to bother her. But the truth is, she probably needs your phone call or text more than anything right now. Ask about her baby and ask about her. On those lonely days when the baby won't stop crying and she feels like everyone has forgotten about her, that message can be a lifeboat.

2. Don't stop the invitations. Like phone calls and texts, keep including her in plans just like you did before she had a baby. Invite her to grab coffee. Invite her to happy hour. Invite yourself over for lunch. Again, you might think she's too busy or that it's too complicated to leave the house with the baby, but don't make those assumptions for yourself. If she's anything like me, she is dying for someone to call her to just get together - even with the baby in tow. She might say no five times in a row, but it's most likely not because she doesn't want to. Babies are schedule-suckers and she might have had to legitimately say no because the baby wasn't having it. Ask a sixth time. And a seventh. Again, your invitation can be a lifeboat.

3. When you come over, ask what you can pick up for her from the store. In the early days with a new baby, going to the grocery store seemed daunting. Trying to figure out how I was supposed to get myself dressed, get my baby dressed, get out in the car, then load him up in the stroller just to run in for a quick trip - I couldn't even go there in my exhausted mind. Fortunately, I had a friend text me and ask what she could bring from the store. I asked for a big jug of drinking water. That was it. But I had spent three days wondering how I was going to get it and didn't know how to ask for help - not even my husband. It's the little things that make a big difference and take a huge load of our new mom shoulders.

4. Show up on time. Whether you are dropping off a meal or meeting her out for coffee, show up on time. Babies' schedules are down to the minute in those early days and there isn't much flexibility on their part. When they're hungry, they're hungry now. If she knows you're coming over or meeting her at 5, she most likely did her best to make sure the baby was happy, fed, changed and on their way to sleep by 5. When you show up at 5:30, it's all out the window. And that's stressful for a new mom.

5. Drop off a fancy coffee or treat on your lunch break. New moms are most likely exhausted at any given moment - morning, afternoon, and evening. Likewise, they rarely have a chance to treat themselves. I make coffee in the morning only to get a sip in before it goes cold and stale. Drop off a latte and snack to a new mom in the early afternoon as a pick-me-up. Just give her a bit of notice to make sure she's home, and tell her you just want to stop by, say hi for two minutes, and leave her a treat. 

What are other ways you can encourage new moms?

Jordan is a born-and-raised Texan transplanted to the Arizona desert where she spends her days as a wife, mother, blogger, freelance editor and worker bee. She blogs about marriage, faith and life as a new mother at Jordy Liz Blogs.
|Connect with Jordan: Blog // Twitter // Instagram|

Dec 9, 2013

Zianne Eileen

So we gave our daughter a weird name. You can be polite and call it "unique" or "unusual," but let's be honest... it's kind of weird. I mean it starts with a Z for one. And secondly, we made it up. Now technically the name Zianne exists in one of the many baby name apps {I forget which one I found it in...} but if you click it, the meaning and origin are blank and a little window pops up that says something along the lines of "If you know anything about the meaning of this name, please let us know."

Today, I'm here to share that meaning with you.

My children were destined to have unique names. As a Jennifer born at the tail end of my name's 15 year reign as the most popular girl name in the US, I wouldn't have it any other way. The Sherrys and the Debbies of the 50s get it. The Ashleys and Megans of my generation get it. And the Isabellas and Sophias of today just aren't old enough to be annoyed yet. I'm sure Zianne will rebel against her own name someday and give her own kids more classic, sensible names, but she is stuck with her "weird" name that we happen to love. This is how it came to be...

My grandmother's name is Zita Ann. She was named after her own mother who was also a Zita, so she has always gone by her middle name, Ann, to avoid confusion. However, all her legal documents say Z. Ann to represent her full name, and just for fun her license plate has always read "Z Ann" as well. One day, long ago, I was looking at her license plate and thought that Z Ann would make a super cute name for a baby girl. At some point, before we were even married, I ran this idea past Micah, he loved it instantly, and it's been our 100%-for-sure girl's name ever since. {Although we never agreed on how to spell it, which is something we had to finish debating and experimenting with in the delivery room after Z was actually born...}

But there's even more history to Zianne's name that makes it extra special, mainly that she is a fourth generation Ann on my dad's side of the family. My grandma passed her name down to her daughter in the form of Raeann. I was always close to my Auntie Raeann, as her family lived a few miles away from us growing up. Raeann and her family eventually relocated to Arizona, so we've had them nearby once again since we moved here three years ago, and we spend almost every holiday with them. However, Auntie Raeann died about a year and a half ago from swift and vicious cancer, and I'm honored to carry on her name and memory through Zianne's name. And, of course, my middle name is Ann after my grandma, so Z is the 4th little lady to bear this name in the family line. But it gets better... Micah's mom's middle name is also Ann, so Zianne is named after her as well. And since we changed the spelling and added an 'e' to her name, she is also named after my Auntie Anne on my mom's side, who is a darling aunt and was my pen pal throughout my childhood. I will always cherish her cursive letters mailed all the way from Hawaii. Clearly, our daughter was destined to carry on the title of Ann(e) in a family full of wonderful women who bear the name. We just put our own little twist on it.

And then there is her middle name, Eileen, which we picked simply because we liked it. However, we do have a funny and fond memory relating to the name Eileen when Micah and I first started dating many, many years ago. Picture this: It is our junior year of high school. Micah and I have just started to develop an unspoken crush on each other. We are in the car one night leaving a Young Life meeting with a couple friends, and the song "Come On Eileen" comes on the radio. Micah, whom I would have described as reserved and stoic up until this time, suddenly cranks the radio volume and begins singing the song as loudly as he can from the front seat. I am taken aback, as this was my first hint that my someday-husband was not quite as introverted and quiet as I had assumed him to be. Now we sing "Come on Eileen" to Z as we change her diaper, but we change the words to "Zianne Eileen." Over the years, we've forgotten the lyrics to the song, so we usually just sing a few lines from the chorus and fill in the missing parts with "doo doo doo doo." I finally looked them up the real lyrics a couple of weeks ago and discovered they are mildly obscene! Oops! We need to make up new lyrics for the song and sing a special version to her, which is a mental activity I might tackle when I don't have a two month old keeping me busy...

But most importantly is the meaning behind Zianne's name... It might be a made up name, but the meaning behind it is very real. Zita means "seeker" and Ann means "grace" so we've decided her name means "seeker of grace." Now, of course, you can't seek grace in the sense that you earn it. Grace is a gift than can never be earned. However, we pray that Zianne will seek grace all her days... That she will give grace unreservedly to others. That she will delight in glimpses of grace around her and constantly thank God for His many gifts. That she will be a recipient of the grace of Christ and live a joyful life obeying and serving Him. And that she will share the Gospel of grace with others throughout her lifetime.

And Eileen means "bright one." Although the nerdy teacher in me hopes this applies to her school performance, more importantly, I hope Zianne's spirit and countenance are bright. I hope she exudes the love of Christ everywhere she goes and that she overflows with joy found in Jesus, so she is a bright light to everyone she meets, like a city on a hill or a star shining in the night sky.

My hope is that she'll shine bright enough to bear a big name like Zianne Eileen with grace, joy, wisdom and laughter.

Dec 8, 2013

Life Lately

If I could title the past month of life, it would be "Getting Out and Staying In." In the first few weeks with a newborn I started to wonder if I would ever leave the house again... at least to go anywhere other than the pediatrician's office. And when I finally did leave the house without the baby, I had an odd mix of feelings, ranging between "I'm free!" to "I have one hour to get all the things in the world done" to "My baby needs me; I must rush back home."

But as the weeks, and now months, have passed by, I am realizing we get out quite a bit. I go to school once a week, we've done our first official baby-free date night, I am back to running most of my normal household errands, and we've even completed our first road trip with Zianne. When it comes down to it though, after a few days of being on the go, Z and I like to cozy up at home and recover. She needs it. The routine of home. Napping in her crib. Limited lights and noise. And I need it too, even if it means just five minutes to prop my feet up on the ottoman and read my Bible or a chance to throw in a load of laundry. So we keep it balanced around here... a few adventures around town and many, many days of hanging out together at home... and I am loving every minute of it.

At home, we like... time in the Word, lots of visitors, game nights, cuddling in the big bed, photo shoots on the Boppy, 
and cheering for our favorite football teams.

Around town, we like... lunch dates with dad, trips to the zoo, the sports bar with friends and babies, donuts after church, visiting great-grandma, Thanksgiving with cousins, Christmas shopping, visiting mom's work, and long-awaited date nights.

Dec 3, 2013

Mama Style: 4th Grade

So here's the deal. I finally bought a "chambray." Yes, one of those denim shirts we used to wear in elementary school that some designer out there decided should be popular again. Go consult your 4th grade yearbook and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Although these shirts have been on trend for a few years now, I didn't buckle until this summer. I was at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, 28 weeks pregnant, and suddenly found myself needing a chambray shirt. I think it was more of a "desperate to wear any clothes not made for a pregnant woman" decision, but nonetheless, this shirt has been sitting in my closet waiting to meet my postpartum self for many, many months.

I finally busted this shirt out when the temps dropped below 90 {which is our official start of fall here} and, truth be told, I'm still not sure what I think of it. I love the shirt itself. It's soft and well-made and I highly recommend it if you are searching for a chambray shirt of your own {and it's on sale right now, by the way}. But I still feel too much like my awkward 4th grade self when I wear it. I've done the whole wear-it-untucked-with-black-skinny-jeans look, and I just don't think it's for me! Not my style, no matter how trendy it is. Now I'm looking for new ways to wear this super soft denim shirt of mine, such as on this particular day, when I knotted my shirt around my waist to take this whole reliving the 90s theme to a whole new level...

Shirt: Nordstrom {on sale right now!}
Dress: Old Navy {also on sale!}
Boots: Old Navy
Scarf: Old Navy {sold out online, but you might find it in stores}. Here is a similar one from Nordstrom.
Zianne's onesie: Carter's

|Linking up with The Pleated Poppy and Because Shanna Said So|

Dec 2, 2013

Before I Forget

I wrote this post just a month after I had my now eight-month-old son, my firstborn. Chris and I were among the first of our friends to enter into the world of parenting. Luckily, several of my girlfriends also had babies this year and I am blessed that other women my age have jumped into this adventure with me. 

I read this article the other day about how new moms often forget how foggy those first few weeks with a baby are. Moms who have been-there-done-that forget what it's like to be a brand new mom. I have already found myself forgetting, though I know it was a trying time. And I am not saying we are completely out of that funk. We are still sleep-deprived (and I'm sure we will be until he graduates college) and we are still learning something new every day. But we've hit a point where we are actually starting to enjoy it.

The thing is, I don't want to forget. I don't want to forget the hard nights, the long days or the snide conversations between two exhausted parents. Just like I don't want to forget the moments when we finally figured it out - whatever it was at the moment - and the sweet moments captured between mother and son, or father and son, or those two exhausted parents. I don't want to forget because it is all a part of the journey.

So, to my pregnant girlfriends out there and to the future me who will most likely do this all over again, I want to remember some things before I forget.

Before I forget, the first two weeks are the hardest. I heard this over and over when I was pregnant, but I had no idea what it would actually entail. You are healing physically. You are all over the place emotionally. Your spouse isn't your first priority anymore and you're not sure what to do with him. You are now responsible for a human life and no one gave you an instruction manual. And you're getting used to little to no sleep.

But something miraculous happens on day fourteen. It gets kind of better. Your body has figured out that it has to function on two-hour increments of sleep at a time. You and your spouse have figured out a rhythm with one another. And you are actually starting to figure out the baby.

On our first night home from the hospital, we couldn't get Liam to sleep. We fed him, changed him, rocked him, swaddled him, and tried getting him to sleep in the bassinet. He was inconsolable. And we had no idea what to do next.

In our birth classes and at the hospital, everyone talked about swaddling. And then we get a baby who hates swaddling. The bassinet had been sitting in our room for over a month waiting for the baby, and now the baby couldn't stand the bassinet. We were up until four in the morning that first night trying to make our baby go to sleep. The only reason it was only until four was because my mom walked in, took Liam, and told us to go to sleep. I want to remember that look we gave each other as we climbed into bed.

Eventually, we learned he slept best in the swing. For the first three weeks of his life, he slept in the swing next to my bed. Because it worked. That's the thing: you do what works. Sometimes that means the bassinet gets pushed to the side for a few weeks and sometimes that means you drag a swing into the room at three in the morning. "Just get the swing!" was yelled across the house when the bassinet, bouncer and my arms weren't cutting it. I want to remember how funny it was when my husband was trying to get a swing through our bedroom door that was twice as wide as the door frame.

And I always want to remember that time I found myself in the formula aisle of Walgreens at three in the morning after having a meltdown in my bedroom because I just realized I couldn't keep up with my son's appetite through the physical pain and lack of supply. "How's your night going?" the cashier asked us as we stood there in our pajamas with a newborn in a carseat watching twenty-somethings pass by after a night out on the town. "New baby," we said, and we left it at that. Formula wasn't the plan; nursing was the plan. I had nursing covers, a breast pump, and all of the bells and whistles for nursing. But I couldn't do it. Physically and mentally, I couldn't do it.

I want to remember that moment because it was a moment I had to free myself from a lot of guilt. I felt guilty for costing us money we weren't planning on spending and not giving my son what was only natural. I felt like I had failed both as a mother and a wife. The one thing I had promised to do, I couldn't do.

I soon realized that what was best for me was best for my son. The morning I sat in the glider for three hours trying to appease Liam's never-ending appetite before I even had a chance to use the restroom or get a bite to eat on the very day Chris went back to work was telling of the fact I wasn't taking care of myself. So I just sat there and cried. And if Mama ain't okay, nobody's going to be okay.

I want to remember the first time my husband told me to get out of the house by myself on day ten to go sit in Starbucks for an hour. Nobody knew I had a baby at home. Nobody needed me to feed them or hold them. And I felt like myself for the first time in too many days. 

On the flip side, there was the night I grabbed my keys without saying a word and got into the car to drive aimlessly around the neighborhood because I just needed to be by myself, without a baby or husband, if only for ten minutes. I want to remember just how badly I needed time to myself to recharge.

So, before I forget, the first two weeks are the hardest.

Give yourself some slack. Let the dishes pile up. Stay in your pajamas. Tell people, "Now isn't a good time." Let go of the guilt. Cry if you feel like crying. And don't try to justify the crying. Get in the car and drive around the neighborhood - by yourself.

And know that one day, believe it or not, the two weeks are up.

It's going to be okay, new mama. I remember.

Jordan is a born-and-raised Texan transplanted to the Arizona desert where she spends her days as a wife, mother, blogger, freelance editor and worker bee. She blogs about marriage, faith and life as a new mother at Jordy Liz Blogs.
|Connect with Jordan: Blog // Twitter // Instagram|

December Goals

It's that time for my December goals, but first I thought it would be appropriate {and honest} to tell you how I fared with my November goals...

I knocked out a couple of last month's goals right away {Teeth cleaned... check! Started Z's baby book... check!}, but I pretty much failed at getting my new retainer {because I have an aversion to talking to strangers on business/medical/financial phone calls} and finishing the decal wall in our family room {WAY too ambitious for the end of the semester crazy period}. And I did not finish the nursery, but made good progress. It's ALMOST done {and Zianne is officially sleeping in her crib as of two nights ago}!

This month I am going to try to make smaller goals and be more realistic about the busyness of the month ahead before I go off making pipe dream, summer vacation-like goals.

December Goals

Call about my retainer. Seriously, just buck up and do it. Even if I don't have the retainer by the end of the month, I am hoping to have made an appointment or gotten my molds finished or anything pertaining to overcoming my dislike of making business phone calls and/or having straight teeth.

Finish the nursery. For real. This project is small enough to finish long before Christmas. And it's stressing me out, so I need it to be DONE.

Finish the decal wall in family room. This is a bigger project than the nursery and one that got delayed because I didn't order enough decals the first time around. I happened to order them from an Italian vendor on Etsy and the extras took FOREVER to get here. Seriously, I think Christopher Columbus traveled to the Americas faster than this shipment, but nevertheless, all the decals are finally here and as soon as school is officially out I must tackle this project!

Gather readings for portfolio paper. Not to bore you with the details of my PhD life, but I have a big paper that needs to be revised in order to get one step closer to graduating. I planned to revise it over the summer, but pregnancy and buying a house distracted me, and it's now become a Christmas break project. I wanted to make my goal finishing the whole paper, but I know that's not going to happen by the end of December. I do plan to have it done in January, so gathering all the extra reading materials I am going to need seems like a good small-step goal that I can accomplish in the midst of the holidays.

Daily advent reflection. For each day of December, up until Christmas, I plan to spend a few minutes a day reflecting on one word... "Jesus." I want to think about who He is, what His traits are, what He has accomplished, what He has promised, and what He commands. Each day I plan to spend a few minutes in meditation and prayer as a little advent addition to my regular quiet times. I started today and loved it! Feel free to join me.

|Linking up with The Tiny Twig|

Dec 1, 2013

Two months

For the sake of Zianne's baby book, here is way too much baby info about our sweet TWO MONTH old girl...

Growing // In the weeks leading up to her two month appointment, I started to wonder if Z would hit 15 pounds before then. By the time her appointment rolled around I was almost sure she had. I was right. 15 lbs. 3 oz. {!!!}, 25 inches tall, and a head circumference of 16 1/2 inches. The nurse measured her head three times to make sure she was doing it correctly. Let's just say Zianne is about as far above the 95th percentile as you can get without the dot falling off the chart.

Eating // Nursing is still going really well. I feed this little chub every 2 to 3 hours eight times a day and she has the rolls to prove it.

Wearing // Z is fully in six month clothes and starting to outgrow them! I've spent the past few days frantically trying to use up all her size 1 diapers so she can transition into size 2, which she probably should have done already... oops!

Doing // Zianne still naps throughout the day, usually for 30 to 45 minutes at a time, but will often take a nice long two-hour nap during the afternoon. She is sometimes sleeping through the night {11-5ish}, but still likes to wake up at 3am occasionally to make sure I never feel too rested. She is showing less interest in her bouncy chair and swing, but is starting to like her play mat more and more, since she can now focus on the animals dangling above her. She also likes looking at alphabet flashcards on mommy's phone. Is she too young for screen time?

Loving // Milk, being held, the Ergo, her stroller, riding in the car, ceiling fans, and staring at the nail head trim on mommy and daddy's headboard. Clearly she has good taste in design.

Loathing // Being set down when she's tired but not yet sleeping, pacifiers, zippers in her face when she's being held.

Nicknames // Baby Z, Z Baby, Zita, Zeeter, Chubalub, Turkish Delight, ZZ Top, Zenith, Zebra, Milk Jug

Daddy's girl // Micah has thankfully learned not to pick up Z when she is sleeping at night, and instead he's now the one in charge of getting her up in the morning. If she fusses anytime past 6 AM he gets her up and cuddles her until it's time for her morning feeding. It's really precious and I get a little extra sleep! :) Also, every night when he comes home from work Micah and Z have learning time, where he teaches her new things like how to count to five or make the touchdown hand signal.

Mishaps and milestones: We took Zianne on her first road trip to Las Vegas to meet her great-grandmother for whom she was named. My heart has never been so joyful as when I watched the two meet for the first time. The only mishap on the trip was not bringing any bottles and having to stop to feed her twice {both ways} on the 5-turned-7 hour drive. Live and learn!
Newer Posts Older Posts Home