Thursday, December 27, 2012

Four months later, I have both a free moment and some motivation to do a quick post, in here.  This is our last night in Millstadt.  I always hate leaving because I don't like making people sad.  This time, it'll be both harder and easier for me than times in the past.  It will be hard because Max is so much more interactive, this time.  It's been really fun watching him interact with his uncles, aunt, and grandparents.  While he's still a momma's boy and very clear about what he wants when he wants it, he has also been much better about going to and spending time with other people than he was during our visit in October.  I have seen changes in him just since we arrived, last weekend, and I know he'll change a lot between now and our next visit.  

It's a bit easier leaving, this time, for a couple reasons, though.  The first and foremost being that Max's grandparents will both be working, so we won't have to leave as many people at once.  They said their goodbyes this evening when we put Max down for bed.  Secondly, we aren't going back to California from here, so there's still much too look forward to.  I'm excited to get to watch Max with his Childers family uncles and grandma and enjoying the same kind of interaction he's had with the Kuester side.  My brothers have both had minimal time with Max (Jon has only met him once on our whirlwind trip to Target on the way down here last weekend), so it'll be nice for them to both get some quality time with him.  My family postponed most of their Christmas festivities, too, so that we could celebrate together, so I'm looking forward to that, too.  

But, even with all that there is to look forward to, goodbyes are never easy, for me.  I'm grateful to have another week in Illinois to ease the pain of this farewell.  I always love the time we have with family...both sides of it.  We have cherished each moment we've spent in this past week and look forward to our next visit.  Thanks for everything, Kuesters and Yates.  We love you.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Many of you are aware, at this point, of the accident that some friends of mine from home had a son involved in.  Jeremiah King was hit by a car while outside with his family and ended up at Carle Hospital in Champaign in a coma.  Unfortunately, this isn't the first time I can say that I've known someone in this exact situation.  Even more unfortunate is that Jeremiah is one of three separate people I've known going through this.  This time around, though, was even more tough for me now that I have a child of my own.  Watching a news clip that showed a shot of Mike holding his daughter who was in tears, and hearing the quiver in his voice as he spoke of his gratitude for the friends, family, and strangers supporting them...not to mention all the posts in the "Team Jeremiah" group on Facebook...well, let's just say that I've been hard-pressed to get through with dry eyes.

Before becoming a mother, watching other parents would result in me either putting them on a pedestal or filing away situations and tactics that I would never want to be in or use when it was my turn.  I compared myself, my thoughts, and my methods to everyone else and was determined that I was going to be the ideal parent.

As it turns out, becoming a parent has been incredibly humbling.  There are days when I have felt like I'm an amazing mom and couldn't have done a better job.  There are other days that I have felt like I have no right holding the responsibility for another life in my hands.  However, it wasn't until recently (like a couple days ago) that I came to the realization that, regardless of the day or situation, Adam and I are the best and perfect parents for Maxwell.  Probably not coincidentally (though it seemed that way, at the time), this was also echoed to me by a good friend that's since moved away while we chatted on Facebook.  Thanks Bethany :). In hindsight, I believe that this was something God has been trying to tell me and convince me of, but stubborn as I am, it took a while (but thankfully only four months) to get to this point.

Without belaboring the point, I think God puts babies into certain families because the person he wants them to become depends on it.  He knows our hearts and knows that we are the perfect parents for that child.  As long as we pray about them and are certain that the choices we make are right for our family, nobody else's thoughts or opinions should matter or sway us, otherwise.  God gave us Maxwell, and any siblings he will have, because He has a plan for them (and us) and we are an integral part of that.

It's in the moments that creep in that whisper to me how much better I could be doing that I try to remember that nobody's perfect.  I remember that God doesn't believe that.  He knows we all stumble and that as alone as I sometimes feel, I'm not the first person to feel any of those feelings.  He's shown me that, even when I am physically alone, a deep breath and a prayer can help me get through.  And with each smile and laugh Maxwell makes, I remember how blessed I am and how loved I am.  With the cries, I remember that I'm needed.  And when I need a break and hand him off to Adam, I remember that God gave me Adam, and Max his daddy, for that that I don't HAVE to do it alone.

 Watching the Kings parent not only Jeremiah, but loving on the others and setting aside themselves for their family in this trying time has been an inspiration for me.  I've also realized how much impact one child can have on everyone around him without ever realizing it.  I've come to see that Max isn't just a gift for us, but for all those that surround us, too.  I've done my best to share him with others around us so that he can bless them as Jeremiah has all of us.  I want to know that, if anything did happen to him, that he'd share the love and support that Jeremiah has, and that even if nothing bad ever comes his way, that we've done everything we can to help him be the blessing that God intended him to be.

So, now my plan isn't to be the best mom in the world...but rather the best one in Max's.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I am rather excited, this morning, as I have found a solution for a long standing problem that has caused us all much grief.  

Maxwell seems to get hot "easily."  Easily is a relative term, since we live in the desert, however, when he gets hot...he is NOT happy.  We realized that this was, indeed, the problem when holding him in front of the swamp cooler or fan quickly remedied the situation and stopped his crying.

However, this situation is not so easily remedied in the car.  His back would get so warm against his car seat, even with the air conditioner full blast, that he'd scream and wail until he either fell asleep or we took him out.  For a while, I was using ice packs under the extra padding you put in to support their head.  That seemed to work well, but it didn't seem very comfortable.  Especially once he got bigger, he'd sometimes arch his back to get away from the ice pack.  I can't imagine that it's because he wasn't hot, but I also can't imagine that it felt that great to sit up against.  He's also growing so tall/big/fast that I had to take the padding out.  I definitely didn't want the ice pack right up against him, and it seemed like it would be even MORE uncomfortable without the extra layer buffering the "bump" caused by the ice pack.

I've been brainstorming and scouring the web for solutions.  The best that I could find (other than the icepack behind the support padding) was getting these blanket type pads that you freeze to put over the seat while they're NOT in it to keep the car seat cool while you're NOT in the car.  That's all well and good...and very well may come in handy in the future...but since we bring him wherever we are IN his car seat, it's not in the car long enough to need that.

While searching for something else, this morning, I opened the cupboard to discover one of these: 

These are wine gift bags that you put in the freezer to keep the wine cold while you travel.  I got one in a giveaway at an Officers' Spouses' event that I went to last year, but had yet to use it.  

A lightbulb went on, and I quickly realized that THIS was my solution!  A few snips later, the bag above looked a little something like this:

The next step was to figure out if and how this would fit into his car seat.  Once I cut some slits in the middle "empty" section, I was able to position the mat behind the car seat padding against the styrofoam.  Here's how: 

I also reinforced the slits with some package wrapping tape so that they didn't end up tearing through the middle.  

So, voila!  A cooling mat for Max's car seat that he won't even notice is there (other than being pleasantly cool while the rest of us are still sweating our butts off :)).

(Yes, I am pretty proud of myself :)).

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I think it's fair, at this point, to say that I've totally slacked off on keeping this blog updated.  There are several reasons for that, but the most obvious of them would be that I've devoted any time that I would have spent writing in here to one of two things: 1. Maxwell.  2. Anything else that I didn't get done because I was spending time with him.  Hopefully also obvious is the fact that I'm not at all bothered by the journal being pushed to the wayside.  Frankly, I've had little to no motivation to write much in here, anyway, so it hasn't been at the forefront of my mind.

In any case, I figured I'd take a few moments just to put some thoughts down and to answer the most frequently asked question since Max joined our family: "So, how are you liking being a mom?"  I find it difficult to sum up an answer to such a broad question in a short enough answer that still accurately depicts my feelings...however, more often than not, the people asking that aren't prepared for a long, drawn out answer.  Therefore, my answer is usually something to the effect of, "It's been good." I then proceed to overanalyze how the response came off, fearing that I sounded too lackluster or that they expected a better answer.  I fear coming off sounding like I don't enjoy motherhood or that I should've been more enthusiastic about it than I was.  I'm sure all of these are fairly irrational thoughts and probably far from the minds of those I assume are thinking them.  Regardless, they have crossed my mind more than once.

The truth is, motherhood is pretty much what I expected it to be.  I've spent most of my life around, if not caring for, children to one extent or another.  Granted, I've never had constant 24 hour exposure to childcare, nor had sole responsibility for the well being of a baby for the majority of his waking (and sleeping) hours.  However, through those experiences, I pretty much had a good idea of what I was getting myself into.  It has been a very natural transition for me, but a thoroughly enjoyable one.

One thing I did not expect, though, was how devoted I would feel towards my son.  It has been almost four months, and other than a quick run and a walk or two, I have yet to leave my son anywhere (and even those times, he was with his dad).  I could give (and have) any number of excuses for why this is true, but the real reason is that I just haven't been ready to leave him.  I want to be there for him and I don't want to miss anything.  (Coincidentally, this is one trait of mine that has apparently been passed on to him, as he rarely sleeps long during the day :)).  I hear that this eventually wears off, and that you learn to cherish the moments that you do get to yourself away from your children.  I'm not there, yet.  I love watching him learn things and develop.  I look forward to all the upcoming milestones, as big or small as they seem to anyone else.  Even in the times when he's fussy or discontent, figuring out what he needs and making it better for him is, in itself, satisfying and rewarding.   I love that he needs me, and I love that I'm able to make such a positive impact on his life.  It's so hard for me to grasp how in awe of me he seems to be, sometimes.  I feel so undeserving of that kind of enamor, but there is nothing better than seeing his face light up.  

So if all of this is the case, then why, you wonder, have I not felt any urge to write about it sooner?  My answer is that I have been very conservative about what I have felt like sharing in such a public forum.  I have been equally careful about what I share and with whom I share it in person, too.  I know that Adam and I are doing our best making what we feel are the best decisions for our family, and I don't want any reason to second guess that.  I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that some of our choices would be considered unorthodox and untraditional...and they, frankly, probably are.  However, we are doing what works for us and what makes the most sense for our family, and I don't want to feel like I need to defend that.  Therefore, I'm not trying to be secretive or isolated, but I have had less of a presence on Facebook than I did in the past in an effort to avoid being met with frustration.  

In addition to that, I have done my best to keep any negativity out of anything that I do post.  While this has been good for me in that it helps me to keep a positive mindset, it has also been hard, at times.  There have been moments that I have been met with the inevitable trials of motherhood that I have struggled with where to turn to for support.  I have feared the criticism, unwanted advice, and judgement that might be brought about by sharing any of the stumbles that I've come across.  I know that there are countless people that would combat this statement by telling me that I can tell them anything and that I should never feel like I can't talk to them about something.  However, I have been very selective about the people that I actually have shared with.  Even though the people I've let my guard down to have been very supportive, and more often than not have been through the same things and have had the same feelings, I am more than likely going to stick to being selective.  It has been a huge blessing to be able to have this support system, and I am equally grateful for those of you who have offered...even if I haven't yet taken you up on it.  I have learned, however, that there is something to be said for the face to face conversations, phone calls, and the deep, candid, and unsensored conversations that can't be had via Facebook.  Even now, I'm wondering if I will publish this journal entry...and if so...if I'll advertise that I have.  

Long story short, I love being a mom in the most complex way possible.  If you're a mom, you know where I'm coming from and what I mean by that.  It has been a much more natural, easier transition than I could have imagined.  It has also, in some ways, been one of the hardest.  Regardless, I wouldn't go back, if I could.  This has been the biggest blessing I could imagine.  It is who I am, who I was always meant to be, and who I will be for the rest of my life, and I am so grateful that I can finally be called a mom.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tomorrow will mark two weeks since Adam and I headed into the hospital to begin the process of welcoming this little guy into our lives.  I can't believe how fast the time has gone, but it's also hard to think about how I filled the days without him.  It's still so surreal to me that I'm a mom.  It's come pretty easy and naturally to me (we'll see if that's still the case once he does more), but somehow, I can't believe that he's ours.  

In the past couple days, Max has been awake and alert more than in the past.  Granted, he still sleeps a TON, but it is nice to see his eyes open, every now and then.  I think he's starting to look a little more like his dad, now, too.  He doesn't really say much either way, but I'm pretty sure that Adam likes hearing that :).  

We've had a lot of visitors, and more coming today, since Max arrived.  I have to admit that I like people coming to me (well, who are we kidding...they're here to see Max :)).  It'll be nice when we're able to venture out of the house a bit more, but I think taking it easy has been for the best.  Adam and I decided that we'd stick around the house as much as possible at least until Max's 2 week checkup (Monday).  I'm also trying to take it easy so I don't have any fall backs on my recovery.  It's hard, especially now that Adam's back at work, not to want to try to get a bunch of stuff accomplished.  However, somehow nursing and changing diapers takes up a good chunk of the day and the majority of my energy.  I guess that's nature's way of making new moms relax.  I am looking forward to being a little more active, though.  I've missed walking with Kim and Becky and am anxious to get rid of the last 8 pounds or so of pregnancy weight I've acquired. 

We had a busy week, last week.  We had some newborn pictures taken by Susie Sincock at Catchlight Photography.  We also brought him in to the thrift shop on base and had him baptized all in the same day.  Since then, we've slowed down a bit.  We went on our first long road trip with Adam to bring my mom to the airport, Tuesday, and we've stayed home other than that since then.  Like I said, while it doesn't sound like much, eating, sleeping, and pooping take up most of our day :).

All in all, parenthood has been fun.  I think it's brought Adam and I closer together, made us appreciate the little things more, and helped us to cherish moments.  I am sort of nervous about how life is going to play out when "real life" kicks back in.  I like spending time at home with Max, and right now, we have no set schedule, so art lessons and things of that nature are sure to prove interesting.  I'm sure everyone involved will understand, but we'll see how life plays out when we come to that, I guess.

Thank you to everyone that's showered us with support, gifts, dinner, and company.  I am beyond appreciative for all of you (and your food was/is delicious :)).  We can't wait to bring Max into our world so more of you can meet him and be blessed by him.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Our sweet little Max is five days old today.  That being said, I decided that it was time to give you an update on our new family life.

I guess you could say that our delivery was fairly under the radar.  Since I was induced, we decided not to tell people until he actually arrived.  This was both because we had no idea how long it would take, but also because I didn't want to add stress to the situation with any unsolicited opinions on inductions and didn't want to keep people waiting and anxious for an unnecessarily long amount of time.  I think we made the right decision.  It was nice having the time to ourselves and being able to focus on the task at hand.

Max arrived at 2:17 p.m. Sunday, April 22nd.  I had heard a million horror stories and had no idea what to expect.  To be quite honest, I was kind of afraid of what was to come.  However, the delivery itself was actually pretty easy.  Our nurse was taken aback at the progress I made and had to tell the nursing student that was observing how abnormal our delivery was and how it isn't a good example of what the average delivery would be like.  When it came to pushing, the nurse asked me to do a practice push.  She kind of laughed at me when I asked what would happen if I was an amazing pusher and he started to come out before the doctor came in.  After the practice push she said, " were right.  No more pushing."  Once the doctor came in, I pushed through 3 contractions (Adam says it was about 5 minutes) before Baby Max was all the way here.

Recovery was and has been equally easy.  I had very minimal discomfort afterwards and was up and out of bed within a couple hours of delivery.  Max has been a great sleeper, too, so we haven't even been all that tired.  He still sleeps through most of the day and night.  We usually have to wake him up for feedings.  He does usually wake up to poop, but it's a rarity, so far, to see his eyes open.  If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to "enjoy it while you can" or "sleep when he sleeps" I think I could probably start a good college fund for Max.  However, if I did follow that advice, I'd A. be dreading him being awake (which I'm actually rather looking forward to so we can interact more) and B. would only be awake for an hour a day.  He's been a great baby and a great sleeper.  We've been able to take plenty of time to relax, nap, adjust, and ease into family life.  My mom is here helping, but in all honesty, there really hasn't even been all that much to help out with.  I feel kinda bad that we haven't had more for her to do, but at least she got a vacation and rest out of the deal.

So that pretty much sums up life, at the moment.  We've had several visits from good friends and people have been more than generous with gifts, meals, and offers to help.  My mom doesn't want to leave her grandson, but is more than confident that we have things under control and that we have made and will make an adjustment into family life smoothly.  Adam's going back to work on Monday.  He's been super helpful, and you can tell by watching him how much he loves his son...but like I said, there's not much to do at the moment, so it'll be nice for him to feel like he's being productive at work and all that much more rewarding to come home and see his boy.  It'll be interesting to see how things go once I'm on my own, but I'm looking forward to starting our new life and day to day together, too.

All in all, it's been a huge blessing having Max in our family (and not just because he was 8 lbs. 10 oz. :)).  It has already made me appreciate the little things more than I did before, and put less importance on things that don't really matter.  I feel very lucky that everything has been so easy for us.  I don't at all take for granted that we have had such a smooth ride from start of pregnancy to now.  I'm trying to take the horror stories with a grain of salt, and am somewhat grateful for them, in a way, because I know how lucky we have it because of them.  Thank you to all of you who have been completely and utterly supportive of us and our decisions.  We are confident that we are doing what's right for our us, Max, and our family, and your support of that means a lot to us.  We'll do our best to keep everyone updated with pictures, milestones, and blessings.  We look forward to sharing Max with all of you.

-Erin, Adam, and Maxwell

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Time for a quick update.  I had my doctor's appointment today...and have pretty much nothing to report :-p.  The end.

Just kidding...about the "the end" part, anyway.  I went to my appointment today expecting that they'd at least check to see if I'm dilated, and possibly even schedule an induction considering they said I was due this Saturday.  Neither happened.  The doctor said that they don't usually start checking to see if you're dilated until after your due date.  Then he asked me what mine was.  I told him that I didn't really know.  I said that I thought it was the 20th, but was told last week that it was the 14th.  He was confused as to why it would've changed when it was less than 6 days difference.  Then he saw that the original date written down was the 21st (which was the date not accounting for the leap year) and since that's 7 days difference, they changed it.  But ultimately, he said because of the confusion, nobody really knows.  Gotta love when the doctor is as confused as you are. That's fine, except it somewhat complicates the schedule of things as far as when they check, schedule induction, etc.  

So basically, since it could be this weekend and could be next weekend, we're somewhat splitting the difference.  If he's not here by next Wednesday, I'm doing a non-stress test followed by a doctor's visit where they will check me and then schedule an induction (though I have no idea for when).  My mom is convinced he's coming on his own (which I hope is the case, as I'd rather not be induced).  She's kinda glad I don't have any labor signs because she wants to be here when it happens.  I'm kinda convinced he might need a little coaxing, but we'll see what happens, I guess.  

Anyway, it's still a waiting game...with no definite end point other than he'll be here before May :-p.  I guess I'll just have to keep walking a lot and hope I walk him out :-p.

More Wednesday (but hopefully before that).