On Due Dates and Miscarriages

I knew the day was approaching. Circled in red on my calendar, it was a constant reminder of what wouldn’t be. My momma heart was bracing itself for the day’s impact. The funny thing about calendar days: you can’t skip over them no matter how much you want to. The youngest reader in the house read the words and asked, “Mom, what’s due date?” He cried when I told him. We sank to the kitchen floor and snuggled.

But then I started to feel strange, and I secretly wondered. The cheap Dollar Tree test confirmed it…I was pregnant on the due date of our miscarriage baby. Suddenly, the day didn’t seem so dark and gloomy. We danced through the day.

positive pregnancy test

We kept our secret tucked inside as best we could between the sickness and the excitement. We waited–for weeks to slowly pass and heartbeats to be seen. We waited for weekends with family to see the look on their faces as we told the story of God’s goodness and timing. We waited for just the right moment to slip a black and white photo across the table and have everyone erupt with joy. We waited, breath held with each passing day toward new trimesters and the next red circle on the calendar.

We danced through the days and high-fived at the end of each one we made it through. Then we said a prayer to make it through the next one. One day at a time.

We danced at my sister’s wedding in our vintage-inspired clothes. We toasted with our water glasses while others around us had a little something more. We celebrated.

vintage 1920's wedding

vintage wedding selfies

But then I started to feel strange, and I secretly wondered. The blood in the toilet confirmed it…I was miscarrying at my sister’s wedding reception. Suddenly, the day didn’t seem so happy and fun. We sat, shocked, while others danced through the night.

Everyone tried to get me to leave and go rest, but I didn’t want to. In a way, I wasn’t ready to face what was happening. I watched my boys move on the dance floor, oblivious to what was taking place. I yearned for their innocence. I made a choice to dance with them. To enjoy the night and make a memory with them. To be joyful even when my world was crumbling around me, because of the Hope of Christ in me.

The next day, we went to walk on the beach. To make a memory with the boys, spend a few more precious moments with those who love us, and to watch the sunset. As the boys dug in the powder white sand, we contemplated how a God that can make something so beautiful could still care so deeply and personally for us. His love is beyond all measure. He has shown us time and time again.

beach sunset

We said our goodbyes and settled in for a seven hour drive home. It was a quiet trip full of prayers that I’d make it home before the hardest part physically of a miscarriage. As we approached the exit for our home, the more intense my pain. I knew what was coming.

We carried sleepy boys to their beds, and I settled in for a night of pain and laboring over a baby we wouldn’t hold this side of heaven. It was intense, but I felt God’s presence strengthening me and comforting me as new life quietly slipped away.

And here I sit, numb and shocked about the whirlwind weekend full of so many ups and downs, wondering and crying out for answers. Trying to understand why and what purpose this holds in our life, knowing that only time will tell. Reminding myself that He carried us through this last time and knowing He will again. Reminding myself that I will still choose to say “Blessed be Your Name.

I’ve clung to the words in Nehemiah 8:10 “…do not be grieved for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” God laid the words on my heart to comfort me, and I’ve clung to them. He is my joy. He is my strength. Without Him I am nothing. And just as He used Nehemiah to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and purify the Jewish community, He will use this to rebuild my life and purify me for His glory.

Here I am, Lord. Use me.

Focus on Fine Motor Skills~Pinching

Developing Fine Motor Skills Series from @happybrownhouse www.happybrownhouse.com

Pinching items and picking them up requires children to use their pincer grasp. It’s one of the first fine motor skills your child really develops as a baby, mainly to pick up Cheerios, and then they continue to use it through the “vacuum cleaner” stage when they pick up every tiny thing on the floor and try to eat it. Asher is most definitely in the “vacuum cleaner” stage. It’s amazing how much he can already manipulate with his fingers.

With his ability to tear paper and his interest in big brother’s school activities, I’ve already started to put him in the high chair and allow him to play with some of the materials we’re working with. For instance, I attached clear contact paper to his tray and gave him some tissue paper squares. After showing him how to stick them to the contact paper, he caught on quickly and made his first piece of art. It wasn’t until later that I realized this activity was helping him fine tune his fine motor skills.

Toddler Tissue Paper Mosaic from @happybrownhouse www.happybrownhouse.com

Here are some ways we work on strengthening and fine tuning the pincer grasp around our house…

Clothespins

Clothespins are such a versatile tool for little hands. By pairing them up with learning concepts, clothespins packs a big punch! The pinching movement required to open them strengthens the pincer grasp, which helps you hold your pencil correctly and pick up small items. The other great thing about clothespins? Most of us already have them around our house or can get them cheaply at the closest dollar store.

  • Some of my favorite ways to use clothespins are by playing clothespin games. (Here’s a post I wrote on Totally Tots last year with a big list of printable clothespin games to help you get started.)
  • Hang some string and let your child clip ABC or number cards in order.
  • If space is a concern, write the ABC’s on the clothespins and have them clip them in order on the bottom part of a hanger.
  • When folding laundry, put the clean socks in a pile and let your child match up the socks and clip them together for you.
  • If you are using colored plastic clothespins, have your child sort the colors and clip them to the side of a plastic basket.
  • Use clothespins to pinch a small sponge or cotton ball and let them paint. (Sneaky fine motor fun!)

 Piggy Banks & Slots

One of the activities that Jonah has always loved is playing with a plastic piggy bank and small disks used to mark your space in Bingo. (Funny Story Side Note: I found these in a box of things I inherited from my great grandmother after she passed away. Of all the things I inherited, we use these the most. Ha!) Even though he is much older now than when I introduced this game, he still likes to play store and other silly games. It’s gotten a lot of mileage. In addition to pinching coins and picking them up, your child will also be working on hand-eye coordination by placing the item in a specific, small slot. Children have to manipulate the coin/bingo marker and make adjustments to make the item fit correctly and fall through the slot.

Piggy Bank Fine Motor Skills practice from @happybrownhouse www.happybrownhouse.com

Medicine Dropper

One day after I had given Asher some medicine, I placed the medicine dropper in the sink of soapy water. A few minutes later, I found Jonah exploring. He was methodically squeezing the dropper to suck up soapy water and squirt it back out. I asked him if he wanted to explore some more and quickly moved him to the table. I set up two cups; one full and the other empty. We squirted a drop of food coloring in to make it easier to see the water and off he went! He transferred the colored water back and forth between the cups for the better part of an hour while I tackled chores. It is something he enjoys and still requests. I bet your child will love it, too.

Develop Fine Motor Skills by using a medicine dropper to transfer water from @happybrownhouse www.happybrownhouse.com

This post is a part of the 10 day series, Developing Fine Motor Skills. This series is part of the iHomeschool Network Hopscotch. To see the list of the topics from the other bloggers, visit iHomeschool Network. There are some fantastic topics and giveaways!

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Failure to Thrive?

As I write this, I’m sitting at Panera immediately after Asher’s 9 Month well check. I’m trying to catch a few moments to myself and process after a few hard days emotionally. The latest wave to crash against me? Hearing the pediatrician mention the words “failure to thrive” in reference to Asher. I mean…have you seen this kid?

Is this the face of a child that is failing to thrive?

Asherbabyfood-HappyBrownHouse

Sure, he may be on the small end, but what those growth charts don’t tell you is that he’s been crawling and climbing for 3 months. He’s chasing an active big brother and would much rather play than snuggle up for an extended nursing session…unless it is nighttime and there’s nothing better to do. Those growth charts don’t tell you that he’s clapping, waving, and giving kisses. They don’t tell you that he’s been saying “Mama” and “Bubba” for 3 months. They don’t tell you that he’s recently picked up the words “Bye-Bye” and “Go-Go”. They aren’t able to tell you about the depths of his belly laughs and the shrieks of joy when he’s in the bathtub splashing.

Failure to thrive? Not the face I’m looking into.

Now, don’t misunderstand me…

I am concerned that he doesn’t have the rolls where he should. I am concerned that he’d rather play with his food than stick it in his mouth. I am concerned that he doesn’t have cheeks to pinch. I do recognize that his low weight could be an indicator to something medically wrong, but failure to thrive? Really?

I’m just not sure.

You see, I’ve seen the children that truly aren’t thriving. I’ve seen the empty eyes, the frailness, and the missed milestones. I’ve seen the orphan child that bangs her head against the crib rails or rocks back and forth to self-soothe when there isn’t someone to snuggle when she wakes up in the middle of the night.

Matter of fact,  I have a child that might be rocking in a crib halfway around the world this very second.

No. I just can’t accept the term “Failure to Thrive” in reference to Asher.

Low on growth charts? Yes.

Failure to thrive? No.

Not when there are 163 million orphans needing a forever family.

The Wall of “Fine”

I got to hold a newborn baby this week. I know, I know, I have a baby of my own, but still…newborns make me weak in the knees.

My sweet friend, whom I actually wrote about before, had a baby. A much anticipated and prayed for baby. Oh, the joy of answered prayers!

As I took food on their first day home from the hospital, I asked her, “How are you doing?”

She replied with the obligatory, “Fine.”

Only, I didn’t believe her.

I asked again, “No, how are you REALLY doing?”

By adding emphasis with the word “really,” she knew she could break down the walls of “Fine” and tell the truth about how hard first days are with babies. Because they are…when we’re being honest with ourselves and others.

And because I had been honest with her at various times in the past, she felt comfortable telling me that the first day home hadn’t been bliss. She was sore, overwhelmed, and exhausted. And because I’m still 2/3 of of the same list 7 months in with Asher, I could say, “I understand.”

My memory hasn’t gotten fuzzy yet.

Honestly, I don’t think I could ever forget what life with a newborn is like…talk to me when I’m 80.

friendship bracelets.

photo credit: amandavenner

But here is the beauty of memories and tough times…

God allows us to walk through tough times to help others down the road. Whether it is by telling them where to step to avoid a pothole, or to lend a helping hand to pull them out of a hole when they’ve already stumbled…we must help!

I’ve walked down this newborn road twice now. I know the sleepless nights where exhaustion and hormones play tricks with your thoughts and emotions. I know the frustration of a baby struggling to latch on correctly and the searing pain associated with a bad breastfeeding latch. And while not everyone wants or needs advice, true friends can share how they made it through the struggles without offending.

I broke down the wall of “Fine” a long time ago. I don’t hide behind it anymore. I think it is only when we can live out in the open with people, instead of behind walls, that we can have true community.

Now, I didn’t have to ask my friend for the honest answer. I could’ve took her “Fine” and went home. The problem with that is that she would’ve felt alone and added another brick to the wall of “Fine” for next time.

We have to break down the wall.

If we don’t, we’ll all just be shouting “Fine” over a pile of bricks and crying by ourselves in a pothole.

It is only when we shout “Help!” that we really get help.

It is pretty simple, but yet, we all seem content to sit behind our walls.

It was when my friend finally said that she was feeling overwhelmed, sore, and exhausted that I could say, “Want some help or just a hug?”

I’m so glad she chose help.

It was only then, that I could respond to the Holy Spirit’s urging to run to Walmart for her and get something that I knew would help with the soreness while her husband stayed home with her and the baby.

It was then that I could tell her what little I knew about getting the perfect breastfeeding latch and how her husband could check after I left.

It was only then that I could run home and get the preemie clothes Jonah wore for the first month after he was born because even our smallest newborn outfit was too big.

And when I returned, I got to show her how to tie the Moby Wrap, my saving grace the first few months with Asher.

All very simple things, but all things that encouraged her and equipped her to have a better night and second day home.

I don’t tell you these things to pat myself on the back. Quite the opposite.

I tell you these things because we give a gift to people when we are honest with them and don’t hide behind the wall of “Fine.”

From the phone call the next day, I know that she was grateful for my help. But honestly, I was the one who was blessed! I had a part to play in encouraging her and loving on her. God allowed me to play a role in caring for another sister in Christ that night.

THAT is community.

I’m so glad I got a glimpse of it.

Question: Do you hide behind the wall of “Fine” or do you live out in the open? How have you experience true community?

Mommy & Me: Special Time

Since Asher came six months ago, Jonah has needed some extra doses of special time with Mommy and Daddy. While he truly loves Asher, the process of becoming brothers has been hard. Finding our groove as a family of four hasn’t been easy. It isn’t something I have written much about, mainly because it has been really HARD on everyone involved…especially Mommy. And, we’re not even done looking for our new normal yet!

That first day home with Asher was an absolute nightmare. Jonah hadn’t ever been away from us for that long and was needing us. The problem was that there was this new little person that needed attention, too. Mommy was recovering from surgery and needed Daddy to help with getting in and out of the recliner, changing diapers, etc. and Jonah didn’t like it one bit. Going from being the center of attention to not being the center of attention is rough on a guy, ya know.

The jealousy was so thick you could slice it.

The tantrums were epic.

The tears…oh, how they fell!

I’m not proud of it, but I really struggled as I saw Jonah in a different light. Suddenly, he was bigger and louder. I found him annoying and whiny. Quite frankly, I cried myself to sleep that night wondering where my sweet boy had gone and asking God what He had done to my family. (Post-partum hormones were running rampant, people!)

It is right here that I will sing the praises of Mr. Happy Brown House. He’s a wise one. He knew that the thing that would help Jonah and Mommy the most was to have some special time together.

And he made it happen.

He took Asher while Mommy read books with Jonah. He sent Mommy and Jonah outside on the porch together. He took pictures while Mommy and Jonah made silly faces. And it helped…both of us.

When we headed to Florida to introduce Asher to family and were blessed with a free day at Disney, he made sure that I was the one making memories instead of watching with Asher on the sidelines. And somewhere between the Teacups and the Carousel, I healed a little. The laugh that had been squelched when colic and all of the shhhh-ing began started to rise and bubble over. I found me again, even if only for the day.

It was then that I realized the real goal of my “Mommy & Me” posts. Sure I like to post fun, educational things to do with your little ones, but ultimately, the real goal is about strengthening the bond between mother and child. You see, sometimes I get in my own way and lose sight of the real reason I do things here on this blog. Sometimes I get caught up in the business side of blogging, the prideful part of blogging, the part of me that wants you to like me because I have so much to offer. And when I can’t offer those things because my life “gets in the way” of my goals, I feel like I’ve let you down. When really, the whole point of my blogging is to document these precious years I have to live. And live them I must. Because what’s the point of blogging about a life that isn’t being truly lived?

So, today, there is no special activity.

No Pinterest-worthy picture.

No affiliate links to products for you to buy.

Just you.

You and that little one…together.

 

Your time and attention is better than anything I can write about today. Make it special. Turn on some music and dance in your kitchen. Have a pillow fight. Let them splash you during bath time. Cut out construction paper clown noses and wear them while you eat dinner. Laugh. Whatever it is, live first and write about it later.

Go. Live. Love. Then come back and tell me about it.

InstaFriday: Six Months

Asher is 6 months old today. SIX whole months. Um, THAT is half a year. How is that even possible? I mean, on the one hand, it feels like he’s been around much longer than six months when I think about colic and sleepless nights that no amount of coffee can help. But then, on the other hand, I feel like I just blinked and here he is sitting up on his own.

He keeps me on my toes in ways that Jonah never did at this age. Which is probably why I’m having such a hard time squeaking out a blog post. Or cleaning. Or showering.

He’s wiggly–changing his diaper is like wrestling a greased pig at the fair.

And strong-willed–I think it’s safe to say I will be reading Dr. Dobson’s book sooner than later.

He’s “King of the Catnap” and my cuddle-bug.

I wouldn’t trade him for all the world.

He leaves me absolutely speechless some days. Like when I turned around and found him CLIMBING onto the bouncy seat just two days shy of 6 months.

Or when he CRAWLED to get the remote the second he saw Daddy put it on the floor….at one day shy of 6 months.

My life flashed before my eyes and I caught a glimpse of him standing on the roof with a cape one day….and I got a new gray hair just thinking about it.

And should you not believe me, here’s proof I’m going to lose my mind before Asher turns one.

 

Linking up with…life rearranged

InstaFriday: By the numbers…

2 sick boys

104.3 temperature for big brother

101.8 temperature for little brother

3 Trips to the doctor

Double Ear Infections times 2…plus RSV

Breathing Treatments every 4 hours

1 night spent in the recliner for Mommy and 1 night spent in the swing for Asher…0 hours sleep

225 mL of Amoxicillin for 10 days…times 2

1 yeast diaper rash, 2 bowls of baby food thrown up, countless blowout diapers

All of that adds up to…

One Super Exhausted Mommy

How was your week? life rearranged

I’m linking up with InstaFriday at Life Rearranged. My old dinosaur of a phone died and I got an upgrade, even though I swore I wouldn’t. Turns out, Mr. Happy Brown House gets a discount through his work and it hasn’t impacted our bill much. So, now I’m sending postcards of my day though Instagram. You can follow me on Instagram (@happybrownhouse)