Dear Jackson // Ten Months

Dear Jackson,

Seriously? Ten months! You are growing so fast. I can't believe it. I feel I've mentioned this before but the days are super long and the weeks go by in the blink of an eye.

I just re read your nine month letter and there isn't many new things to add. You have just progressed in all the habits you've started at nine months. You still use your walker to walk around everywhere. Last night you took one step towards me which was super exciting but still no where near holding your balance to walk.

You now eat 1/2 puree food and 1/2 cut up food. You still only have two teeth which is proving to be difficult when trying to feed you because you can't really chomp at it yet. But you LOVE feeding yourself. It is one of the only times you are quiet. Since you love feeding yourself you don't like when I do. The only way I can get you not to cry when we do puree food is by watching music videos or daniel tiger neighbourhood. Even when you are full out crying if I play "deep cries out" by Bethel Kids you instantly get mesmerized and stop crying, allowing me to continue the feed. Many parents are anti tv/screens before age 2 and I've read up on some of those reasons but I believe in choosing my battles and eliminating tv is not one I want to tackle. I want to be sensitive to it so we try to only watch music videos when you refuse to eat. And I keep telling myself it's a phase so hopefully you will like to eat food again, or we will just stop doing puree.

You've definitely been growing a bit more. We bought you clothes way back in September and now its March and we haven't had to buy anything...yet... but now it seems that some of your pants and clothes are tight which makes me excited that we get to go shopping again! I weighed you (on our home scale) and you hit 17 pounds! It was exactly 17.0 but hey we got there and that is exciting! Most people comment on your size and how you are still so tiny but I love it. Also for practical reasons you have been able to fit into your carseat all winter long which makes my life super transporting you everywhere.

You still know the same words, still aren't clapping (even though I've continued trying) and I guess the new word would be "come." Yes, it sounds like a dog but when I say it and wave my hand to come to me you normally do. It's super cute.

You now sit in big part of the grocery carts. When we head to costco you love looking around and scratching all the grocery items. One of my favourite things is when you go grocery shipping with Daddy. Mark likes to shop (cuz he is so picky and I don't mind one bit!) and he takes you on a Daddy/son date. It is the cutest and you are always on your best behaviour. It is really easy taking you out as long as you have slept and ate.

Breastfeeding has changed a bit. I don't feed every 3-4 hours anymore just morning and night. This has worked well this past month and you have transitioned so well. You get distracted even if you hear the slightest noise and I think you are slowly outgrowing it. I feed at 5am when you wake up and then you fall back to sleep for another couple hours and then I feed right before you head to bed. I hope to continue this as long as possible. I was worried about stopping breastfeeding right before I go back to work but this transition has been pretty smooth so I can continue with those two times.  Other than the two feeds, you just drink water during the day and still get all your nutrients from your food. We've tried countless sippy cups and the one that you love the best is a gatorade water bottle that Dad and I drink from. You only want to drink the same ones we do. We tried for a couple weeks and then just gave up and bought you on like us. You love it, except it isn't child proof so if I'm not watching you water goes everywhere!

There is always something to disrupt your sleep but we are getting there. Just recently I figured out if I put a soother clip on your pjs' that when you wake up in the middle of the night you will find it and go back to sleep. This could be a game changer because when you wake up in the middle of the night you are still crying for a good long time. You weren't soother dependent before but I think with your teeth coming in (hopefully) you have liked it more and now you know how to put it back in this has been super helpful.

You are the best baby and I love hanging out with you every day. Just thinking about heading back to work makes me super grumpy and emotional but know that God is in control and has your sweet life in His hands, and God has the very very best for you.

I love you more and more each day, not what you can do for me but because of who you are my baby. I think about that parallel with Christ. He loves you and me just the way we are and nothing we do for him or can do for him changes his love towards us. I always think I need to do great things for Jesus and being your momma has given me fresh perspective on how Jesus must feel towards me. It is beyond comprehensible the love God has for us. Thank you for letting me learn such sweet lessons from you Mr. Jackson. I pray every day you will grow up knowing Jesus and his great love towards you.

Happy Ten Months My Baby Boy,


Postpartum Weight Struggle

I was listening to this coffee + crumbs podcast the other day and they asked the question "what do you love about your postpartum body?" I couldn't believe they were asking this question... does anyone love their postpartum body? I sure don't and have struggled with my body since becoming pregnant. The mommas talked about their strong bodies and curves and I just had to pause and listen because I was so shocked that women could love their bodies after giving birth.

Weight gain has never been my struggle. It just hasn't been my thing. Growing up I was always athletic and then in middle school/high school I was a competitive track athlete and worked out pretty much every day. I had intense workouts and competed at junior nationals. Sure, there were times I struggled with perfectionism and had struggled for a couple months with an eating disorder but I knew I was never fat, I had a six pack to prove it. The eating disorder was me wanting to be perfect, to do better at track and didn't have anything to do with weight.

I knew that carrying a baby inside of me for nine months would change me...maybe forever. Let me say outright that having Jackson as my son is the best thing ever but can I be honest and say that I struggle, I'm struggling.

I was leading a fitness class at my church when I was pregnant. My goal and thought was to lead that class all the way up to giving birth. I was so excited to stay fit and in control of my weight. I knew you could workout the same amount as you did before becoming pregnant so I was confident I could try and control the weight gain.

December 27 (the day before my anniversary) I got a call from my midwife telling me that Jackson was healthy but that I was getting close to placenta previa and that I would have to stop exercising among many other things. I was crushed. Stop exercising? Really? Obviously for the health of my baby there was no question in my mind that I would give up exercise but I no longer had control. Despite trying to eat healthy when you aren't working out the weight seemed to pile on and I gained more than the average pregnant lady.

Then insert pelvic girdle pain. I had intense, low numbing pain and immediately called my midwife. It hurt to walk, it hurt to stand and it was painful. After talking to her at length and with my ultrasound she said it was pelvic pain. The way Jackson was growing was putting large amounts of pressure on my pelvis causing low numbing pain. I stopped waitressing in February because it hurt. I wasn't on disability but the days were long and the weight continued. I actually stopped counting the weight gain because I was becoming obsessed with it and knew it wasn't healthy. It wasn't my fault I couldn't be on my feet for very long but still.. as the scale kept climbing I felt less and less in control.

After giving birth I was exhausted and walking hurt, everything hurt and Jackson didn't sleep all that well. I didn't bounce back like so many articles I read. I didn't even get out of the diaper the midwives give you because the bleeding continued for a month. Then my stitches started to hurt. It continued to hurt to walk (let alone exercise and loose the baby weight). I went to the doctors at two months and he told me my stitches had re torn a bit and were loosing up but he didn't want to re sew me, he assured me they would continue to heal and the skin would start to close naturally as long as... wait for it.... I laid low and didn't exercise.

I laughed. This was my story. I stared at my body in disgust. The massive stretch marks, the saggy skin, my fat face... seriously? How did this become me and my story? I had no control but to listen to my doctor and let my body heal. I wasn't stupid so I rested. I didn't walk and the weight stayed.

I fought the lies in my head that I'm not beautiful. I've questioned Mark countless times as he tells me how pretty I am that he is lying and just saying that to make me feel better. I've looked at pre pregnancy pictures and longed for my body and my skin back. I've had bitter thoughts of other mommas who just bounced back and lost the weight in the first couple months. I've compared myself to celebrities and other social media figures who post working out pictures days after their baby. I never realized how hard I would struggle with weight gain but I do, I am.

Jackson is now ten months. It's been nineteen months of working through these thoughts and body issues. Today, I feel like in our "love your body whatever size it is" age that I can't even share this stuff due to people saying "I'm body shaming" but I want to write about it because I want to be real. Every story is different. Every pregnancy is different. Every body is different. And from a girl whose never struggled with weight gain, this has been the hardest postpartum struggle. Not being allowed to exercise and then finally after three months feeling "healed" enough to start working out and then not seeing results is tough.

But loving my body? These mommas actually love their bodies. They weren't lying. They had positive qualities about their bodies from giving birth. Could I love my body again? I felt hopeful.

I'm feeling hopeful. 

Comparison is the thief of joy. I know that. I preach that. But I wasn't prepared for the comparison. By God's grace and loving kindness towards me I've been praying to love my body and after ten months I am finally starting to be OK with getting a new wardrobe and buying some new clothes.

Is it really the end of the world if I will never fit into my skinny jeans again? Can I accept that my body has made and carried a human and rejoice with these other mommas that I now have hips that my skinny jeans just won't sit over? Can I swallow my pride and buy a new pair a few sizes bigger?

I'm feeling hopeful that I can.

& I'm feeling hopeful that if you are a momma with this struggle that you can too. OR if you are a woman who has ever struggled with weight gain or ever struggled with loving your body, I'm feeling hopeful for you.

Why? Only because of Jesus. Because as we fix our eyes on Him, His kingdom, on eternity "the things of the world grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." Heaven feels close and real and my stretch marks suddenly don't seem to matter so much. As these nineteen months have passed I have struggled and will continue to struggle but am hopeful that as I work out, eat better and see my body the way God sees it I will learn to love it again.

And like I said, as I see my story laid out differently than other mommas I am hopeful to love my body again. I looked into the mirror this morning and smiled at my hips and stretch marks and thought "OK this is me and that is OK." I am hopeful for you too if this is your story.

Let's learn to love our bodies even if it takes some time. I'm on this journey with you friend and I'm cheering you on.

From a momma learning to love her postpartum body.


Nothing to Prove

Jennie Allen is one of my favourite authors and people in general. The way she writes and communicates speaks directly to me. There aren't many non fiction books where I just can't put it down but Jennie's writing does that to me. The Spirit speaks so clearly through her so when her book Nothing to Prove  came out in February, this momma read every nap time and evening. I honestly feel like I could have highlighted this whole book.

The theme of the book is realizing that freedom comes when we realize and accept we are not enough, but recognize that God is. And with that realization God becomes all we need and this world offers us nothing. Our freedom comes when we accept who we are in Christ and that we have nothing to prove to this world or God.

Here are some of my favourite quotes, and please go get this book (or email me and you can borrow my copy)

"God already knows we are not enough, but He's not asking us to be. We are the ones who have chosen to walk through the desert with enormous packs strapped to our back full of everything but water. As if the Kingdom of God were held up or together by us. So I purpose a great experiment. What if together we name the junk we are carrying around and figure out what to with it? What if we name our limitations, our fears, our imperfections, our striving, our sins, rather than try to escape them? What is heavy for you right now? (p 33)

"But she had to name what she was carrying before she could ever get free of it. And you and I have to do the same if we want to ditch our backpacks. I want to be clear: This will take courage. Because to get to the place where God can be enough, we have to first admit that we aren't." (p 40)

"When we see ourselves the way God sees us, we don't have to strive. Being near to God doesn't produce pressure of legalism; it produces worship." (p 44)

"You are I actually know what our mundane, eternal stories are leading toward: Jesus coming back and seizing His people and building a kingdom that won't end...The small things aren't only building eternity; we also find Jesus as we live in them. Jesus is in the midst of each ordinary, messy, mundane moment.... Vision and rest and work and joy and Jesus and difficulty are meant to coexist." (p 55-56)

"I realized that night that I have been living a lot of my life for God instead of with God. And this is a lot of pressure on a girl." (p 61)

"We want to do things for God without spending time with God. It is an epidemic in the church, and we wonder why we are so empty and unhappy. God built us for Himself, and all our attempts to manage life apart from intimacy with Him only further expose our ache for Him." (p 94)

"Here's what I believe is happening: We are so lonely and we do not feel known; we do not feel understood. We do not feel connected to people in a really deep way because we are expecting them to fill something that only God can fill. So, in our pursuit of deep connection, we have to recognize that we can often look to good things like community, authenticity, confession to take the place of connecting with Jesus. Loneliness is meant to be an invitation to draw closer to God. But our tendency is to try frantically first to meet that need with people, to prove to ourselves that we are lovable and funny and worthy of attention. We are made for dependency on God. We were built for that. Because God is invisible we put our neediness on people, and that becomes unhealthy one hundred percent of the time. It's called codependency. If we connect with people and we don't connect with God, we end up asking people to be our enough. People will always eventually disappoint you. Don't be surprised. They aren't enough either. Only God has the resources and ability to exhaustively meet your needs...When we begin to find our deepest, most fundamental needs met in God, then we will go from using people to meet our needs to enjoying people despite the ways they disappoint us. Community is meant to point us to Jesus, not replace Him." (p 109)

"It is terrifying to be caught in our brokenness. But more terrifying than being caught is being alone and in the dark with all of our pride intact." (p 119)

"If you and I could hold on to a clear vision and hope of a secure home and a God coming for us, I believe it would rest and still our fearful self-protective hearts." (p 131)

"Like Moses, we begin to believe that since we are not adequate, then we shouldn't do what God has called us to. And we lit the work of God through us because we think it is all about us, our abilities, our resources. But it is never about us. It is always about hungry people in bondage whom God wants to set free." (p 134-135)

OK, I'm only halfway through the book but this post is super long. Gah, re reading these quotes makes my heart stir and get excited that I have nothing to prove to no one. I love being able to rest in who God says I am, to be defined by Him. So I end this post as a part one and will write some more of my favourite quotes in the coming weeks!

Hope you had a restful weekend and are ready to do the work Jesus has for you this week, not in your  strength, but only in His.



Dear Jackson // Nine Months

To my not so little baby anymore,

Yay for nine months. You have been out in this world longer than you were in me. That is so crazy. Pregnancy was the longest for me and I didn't like it but some days it feels like you were just born, how are you nine months already?

Yet when I look at all you do in a day and accomplish I can see how far you've come. Your daddy and I comment almost every day how it never takes you long to learn a new skill. For example: you climb up onto everything. You got this skill late December but now in February you are figuring out you can climb up on everything. Stairs, play pens, our fireplace/bookshelf, refrigerator and the most fun/annoying one our legs. It only takes you a few tries to figure it out.

This month as your personality is more defined it is clear how determined and risk taking you are. Both dad and I are super determined (....stubborn.....) so we know you get that from us but the risk you take fully trusting and confident in your ability is definitely not a trait from Momma. You climb all over the furniture and move around even if both your arms aren't holding on anymore. You have had a few nasty falls in spite of these risks but overall you've been good. You know how to get down (most times you get down by eating whatever thing you are getting down from) but it is still a bit scary.

You have a zebra walker that you use to get around. You crawl up to it, pull yourself up and off you go, walking around the house. You are a busy busy boy. In no way could you walk yet without the walker but with it, you are a star! You walk so fast sometimes it amazes us. It's crazy to me to think of the days where I didn't have to chase you around all day and where you sat in your chair looking around at everything. I am so thankful for your new skills but man it's exhausting.

Sleep - last month I was typing that you didn't sleep and this month I can't type that we have a pattern. I didn't really experience much postpartum when you were born but at eight months I was loosing it. I send some really awful thoughts and was just so tired it was hard to have a good perspective. I felt like I was failing as a momma and couldn't see it getting any better. Mark obviously picked up on my emotions and we made a plan. He said he would help in the night times and we would do cry it out with one feed. I have done all the nights since Jackson was born because 1) Mark works in the morning and I can nap when Jackson naps and 2) I would always nurse in the night time when Jackson would wake up so Mark couldn't be helpful since he didn't have any milk (and pumping didn't work for me... nothing would come out and it was painful so that was out).

Anyways, we did the cold turkey cry it out. Jackson your determination set it. You cried nine nights for over an hour bloody murder cry. Most of the articles said each night the crying time would get less and less but for you it wasn't. Some nights it was 1.45 hours and others just over an hour but it was awful and painful and you cried/fought hard. Your daddy was so helpful and we would switch every other night watching you on the monitor to make sure you were OK. It was super discouraging and really dark week+ because we thought it wasn't working because your crying time never decreased. And then just like typical Jackson form on night ten you just slept through the night and woke up at 5am for a feed. I am still doing a night feed (5am) because you are pretty tiny (not even 16 pounds) so I want to keep giving you milk. I think around 10 months we will cut the last feed. I am excited to stop breastfeeding soon but at the same time I am cherishing every time I feed you. There is something so beautiful and so natural about feeding you.

You sleep 7-5am for a feed and then back to sleep till around 7/730. It is amazing! I have my life back! We have also worked on naps and every other day it works. I don't think we've ever had two good nap days but when its a good nap day you will sleep twice for over an hour. This is huge and I am just so happy.

Words you know now: KISS - you give kisses to everyone it is the best thing ever
- you can TURN PAGE like a pro with books (you've been doing this for a couple months but I think you know the word now)
- you know SHAKE IT - whatever is in your hand you will shake
- KICK THOSE LEGGERS - when I chant that you kick your legs..mostly in the bath and splash everywhere and my heart explodes with love every time. I don't think this will ever get old
- NO - you know NO and sometimes you listen. You will now leave garbage and most cords alone but you fight me every time with your owlet sock charger. There is something about those lights on the charger that memorize you.

Still no Momma or Dada.. .even though we work on it every day! We also work on CLAP every day but you just smile at me.

Since its 9 months we are introducing vegetables. You love sweet potatoes and butternut squash, hate peas and don't care for carrots. We still mix in fruit along with protein powder and good oils/fats. I also give you vitamin D drops and cut open iron pills that I mix with your food twice a week. When we stop breastfeeding (whenever that day is) I will not be introducing cows milk or formula but we will go to water. You already drink some water in a zippy cup but you are getting more nutrients from the oils/fats I give you than you would ever get in cow's milk. You actually get 4x the amount of nutrients so I'm very confident after getting educated and meeting with my nutritionist that I won't be doing cows milk. But eating is going really well. You are a good eater and eating lots and it's working. I am so thankful for this and our nutrition plan! It's so important that every family is happy with their feeding schedule (whatever that looks like) and I am thrilled with ours:)

Alright my sweet baby! Happiest of nine months to you:) Every day we spend together is an absolutely JOY. Thank you for sleeping better and giving me back some routine...aka.. your Daddy and I workout now together 3x a week and you love running the track in your stroller with us. Routines are my groove and I love them and this month I can we are getting some routine down and I am ecstatic! Let's keep this up.



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