A Sweet Baby Girls Room

I’ve been wanting to share our baby girl’s bedroom since before she was born.

She’s 10 months old.

Procrastinate much?

I guess she’s still a baby…it still counts, right?

Decorating a baby girl room is so fun, but I also find it more challenging than a boy’s room. So much girl stuff seems overly gaudy – with more frills than this mama could handle.

I was shocked by how expensive baby bedding can be – so much money for such tiny things! Many sets come with accessories you don’t plan to use, and who wants to pay for that?

It took hours of searching online to find the Babyletto In Bloom bedding – sweet and girly, but not frilly. I love the combination of coral and navy. If you like it, shop around. It comes in different combinations of accessories, and is carried by quite a few stores. (I snagged mine for about half the price at Kohls using a 30% off coupon and a Kohls Birthday $10 off reward)

Crib and Artwork

Now for artwork.

ABC Photo1

First, we used the Etsy ABC digital artwork we already purchased for our other daughter’s Ballerina and Flamingo Bedroom.

 

 

 

 

 

All Gods Grace 2All God’s Grace Wooden Sign from Hobby Lobby when we found out we were pregnant (Always, always use a coupon or buy on sale at Hobby Lobby).

Every time I look at it, it makes me smile.

 

 

 

 

Ok. Enough money spent! Now for some free stuff.

You guys, there are SO many free printables online from amazing and talented bloggers, photographers and graphic designers.

Amazing stuff.

Just look at what I printed and framed at home!

You are Capable 1

This You are Capable of Amazing Things printable from BrePurposed is adorable and really compliments the In Bloom bedding. She has many more beautiful options to choose from.

 

 

 

 

 

Changing Table ArtYou can’t go wrong with the Psalm 4:7 and 1 Peter 1:6 printables from Danielle Burkleo.

So pretty!

I also love her Bless The LORD Oh My Soul printable and may still frame it to use somewhere else in the house. She has so many fun options, for boys, girls, or anywhere in your home.

 

 

Baby Bedroom2

We love how the bedding, decals and artwork look together, and Audra sure seems to like it.

baby girl

Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent – God is faithful, still.

Infant Silent Reflux Is NOT Silent: 5 Ways To Help Older Children Cope | thisgratefulmama.com

Watching our third baby suffer in pain from silent reflux is not any easier than with the first or second child.

A tiny baby writhing in pain, arching their back and screaming, red-faced until they have no more breath, is gut-wrenching for even the seasoned reflux parent.

Silent reflux is still awful.

While this time around we were more proactive in asking for and accepting help, daily, we were in the trenches, trying to soothe our hurting child. And, as I shared before, this time around, we also struggled to help our older children cope.

It was not easy for our children to watch their baby sister suffer either.

Many days, I sat back and observed how our entire family was affected by our baby’s pain. I often wonder why? Now when I say why, I don’t mean the science behind it – I actually understand that quite well by now.

No, I mean WHY?

Why would God allow a baby to suffer this way?

Why our children?

Why is this so hard?

Why isn’t He answering my prayers NOW?

My emotional response is to ask why, neglecting to go any deeper. Asking why only allows me to dwell in a dark place of mourning and frustration. It is not wrong to come to this place on occasion, but staying there long does only damage. There is no hope there, and as your little one suffers, trust me, you need all the hope you can get.

Like many injustices and suffering, we may never know why on this side of heaven, so dwelling there is not a fruitful endeavor.

Instead of asking why, I should be asking where God is as we walk through it.

I don’t know why He allowed this again, but I do know where God IS.

Right here.

With me. With my husband. With our baby. With our older kids.

He has not looked away even for even one second, even thought there were times we took our eyes off of Him.

God is not surprised that our baby has reflux.

He made her. Carefully. Without mistake.

God is allowing reflux to happen for a reason, even though I want it to be over without all the suffering.

I also need to ask WHAT is God doing?  

What is He teaching our family?

What is He working out in me?

What is He equipping me to do?

For now, it is evident He is teaching each member of our family to be more dependent on Him. He is teaching my husband and I to trust Him with each child He has given us, and to parent with His strength.

And to trust His perfect timing.

I am grateful that we have already seen Him work in this situation twice before – and He has an excellent track record. God never changes. I am confident He will work here too. I have already seen how He has used these experiences already to encourage other reflux families, just like I have seen Him work for good in our family’s life because of our son’s food allergies.

I expect Him to show up big here too.

God walks through all suffering with us – comforting, supporting, equipping, and carrying us through the worst of circumstances. He gently, lovingly guides us freely offering peace, kindness, love and forgiveness along the way.

From day one.

I admit, I do not agree with our baby suffering, but God’s character is good, regardless of our circumstance.

I trust Him and believe He will use this suffering for good. The countless hours spent fervently praying over our babies for relief have not been spent in vain, although I do wish He would answer those prayers now.

He answers all prayers in His timing. And I do trust His perfect timing and care. And that His ways are higher than my ways.

He knows the entire plan for my life, my family’s life, and this sweet baby. He is working for good, in something that feels only bad. The Bible is clear that God works for the good in ALL things of those who love Him – And I believe Him. And so I cling to this truth.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

He has shown Himself faithful to me and to each of our children.

So, while we walk through this, we keep our eyes fixed on Him. We expectantly wait for Him to make His presence known.

And every day, He does.

Because He is faithful, still.

 

*I CANNOT wait to share how God has worked in this situation already – our daughter has improved SO much since I started writing this in July. In the craziness of those days, I never published this – so here it is (With a few more posts to come explaining new lessons learned about infant reflux the third time around, and just how God’s timing was perfect in this situation).

Just Once More…

Just Once More

I love being pregnant. Some people think that is weird, and I’m ok with it. I don’t love the nausea, aches and pains, or interrupted sleep, but there is just something incredibly special and sweet that words cannot quite describe.

At first, despite the sickness, I love the knowledge that a little someone is being knit together inside of me. There is simply nothing that compares to the truth that God, Himself, is creating and carefully making a person with their own unique features and personality. A miracle within. It is the knowledge that He chose me to be this child’s mom, my husband to be her dad, and that this baby is the perfect addition to our family.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)

At first, our pregnancy was a secret shared with few. Then we had the privilege of sharing our special, joyful secret. We have lived in hope for months, preparing for the arrival of a little person who has already changed our heart and made us love them more than we ever thought we could.

I don’t love that I’m on round 3 of gestational diabetes. I don’t love the carb counting and finger poking. And I certainly didn’t love the 1 hour and 3 hour glucose tests that I simply cannot pass in any pregnancy. But I am grateful the condition has been managed with diet and exercise. Not using insulin has been a effort of discipline and self control, and has been a very tangible answer to many, many prayers.

The more pregnant I get, the more others ask if I’m ready to be done. They expect that I am. They figure I’m fed up with this this and ready to get the show on the road. My doctor has commented on how the third trimester for many third time moms feels like eternity. And yet…it doesn’t. Not to me.

Here I am in the final weeks of this third pregnancy. I am very emotional and feel like I can’t get a handle on this roller coaster. While I’m excited to meet this little one, I’m not ready to be done either.

This will most likely be our last pregnancy. My husband and I have been in agreement on the number 3 since we started talking about kids. And while it is hard to admit this magical time may be the last time, unless God has other plans, this will probably be our last one.

So during this pregnancy, I’ve been quietly enjoying even the struggles – finding myself grateful for the chance to do this one last time.

This pregnancy has been my most challenging. Blood sugar issues showed up earlier, and were harder to manage. This is my first pregnancy as a stay-at-home mom and I found the days chasing little ones to be harder than sitting in a laboratory or desk during the day.Plus, I’m 6 years older than when I began my first pregnancy, our evening activity schedule is busier, and I have found it harder to juggle everything effectively without getting overwhelmed and emotional.

And yet…

There has been such a sweetness in feeling the baby kick, squirm and hiccup. Day or night. Strangely, this time, even those pummeling bladder kicks haven’t frustrated me as much although they have certainly kept me on my toes.

Keeping the secret about this pregnancy was just as special as the first two times, even though we’d done it before. And this time around because our other kids are old enough to have an opinion about the baby’s gender, we did our first and only gender reveal party with family. It did end with a 5 year old in tears, but he’s coming around. This baby girl will be VERY well loved.

There is a special contentment in just being pregnant. I’m not in a rush to get past it or to just be done. This is the last time I’ll be unable to see my toes because of a baby in the way. The last use of maternity pants and shirts that never seem long enough. And the last time I’ll wonder how my stomach could possibly get any bigger. Knowing this labor and delivery thing is also just once more makes it less scary, less of a hurtle, and the start of a whole new stage that will also be full of last moments.

Once more will we see a baby’s face for the very first time. And just once more will we have that first special moment holding her. Just once more will we carefully pick a name and hope it suits her. And just once more we will hear that first cry.

Just once more we will watch our children meet their sibling. And introduce the baby to great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. We will see that joy and wonder on their faces as they meet our baby that first time, just once more.

And just once more will we bring a baby home and feel that exhaustion and sleep deprivation that comes with caring for a newborn. And we will feel again the fierce love and joy of this little life that makes it all worthwhile. We will be faced with the realization that we somehow are responsible for now 3 little lives – to love, tickle, discipline, feed, snuggle, raise and introduce to Jesus Christ.

The truth is, this baby is no more special than the first, or second. They are all equally miracles created by God, and entrusted to us. But I do find myself treasuring the moments leading up to those precious firsts because they will also be last. Instead of being swept up in the busy-ness of life, I’ve been fighting to just experience what is happening NOW.

Life is speeding up all around us, with sports, and school wrapping up and staying busy outside because the weather is so nice. And yet…I am ready for it to SLOW down. To take time to treasure the time that is left before the baby is born. To spend quality time as a family of FOUR. To snuggle up and read more books and play harder with the two children that are here now. And to pour love into them because they are just so very precious. And together, as a family, to anticipate the moment when we will joyfully welcome the arrival of this sweet new baby. And become a family of 5.

But time isn’t slowing down. It will not wait for my nostalgia or for me to be ‘ready’ to be done being pregnant for the last time. This baby is coming. And very soon. Only God knows the exact moment and as with the other two babies, I can trust His perfect timing to be exactly what this baby and family needs.

I cannot wait…but will relish these last days or weeks of knowing her by her movements as I wonder what she will be like. Even in those nighttime hours as she does acrobatics and interrupts my sleep.

So today I find myself grateful. Hopeful. Not in a rush, but surrendered to God’s perfect timing.

And I remember that all that is to come in the next busy stage of life is just once more.

Infant Silent Reflux Is Not Silent – 10 Survival Tips for Parents When Your Child Does NOT Sleep

Infant Silent Reflux Is Not Silent - 10 Survival Tips for Parents when your child does NOT sleep

There are infants who sleep through the night right away, or even within a few months of bringing them home from the hospital.

We were not that family.

Read more about our experience with infant reflux:

As I’ve shared before, our firstborn had silent reflux. Acid burning, pain abounding…heartburn. In our experience, reflux is worse at night, and greatly affected his and our sleep.

When many parents say they had a hard night, it means the child was up a few times, perhaps staying awake for a (whole) hour, or that perhaps they were up at 4 am for the day. Let me be clear that I am not diminishing how this feels in the morning – tired is tired! But I think it is fairly safe to say most babies and parents manage one solid 2-4 hour stretch of sleep per night, most nights. They are tired, but are usually functional the next day.

When I say we had hard nights, I mean that most nights, he did not sleep. There were 3-5 hours stretches of crying and discomfort followed by a 40-minute nap. But even this short stretch was interrupted by writhing and painful screams.Then we repeated the crying and short nap, or he was up for the day. He did not sleep a 3-hour stretch until 10 months.

As his nursing mama, neither did I. And often, neither did my husband.

We tried everything. We held him, we tried walking, co-sleeping, swinging, bouncing, singing. In desperation we tried crying it out but it was short-lived and agonizing for mom and baby  – a hurting baby cannot self-soothe, nor should he have to.

Nothing worked.

We spoke to doctors, lactation specialists, other parents and read books, articles and blogs by sleep consultants. There were many great tips, but none helped our son sleep.

If you think that sleep-deprivation is hard on your body and mind, imagine how it affects a baby – they are supposed to sleep twice as much as we are!

He, and we were exhausted – a term I no longer use lightly.

After 10 months, his sleep ebbed and flowed along with his silent reflux symptoms until FINALLY at 15 months, he slept through the night. This too came and went, but his sleep generally improved so MOST nights were silent nights.

That is, until the reflux returned with vengeance when he was 2 1/2 and I was 7 months pregnant with our second baby. Then his sleep success derailed and we recognized old patterns of returning pain and chronic coughing. This was no sleep ‘regression’. It was sleep succession. But we will save the story of toddler reflux for another day…

Because our sleep experience was a struggle, my goal is to share how to survive – to endure, to wait for healing, and to do everything in your power to encourage sleep. But more importantly, my goal is to empathize, and encourage parents that sleep does come, even if not right away.

10 Survival Tips for Parents – When Your Child Does NOT Sleep

1. Schedule YOUR sleep

While parents may not need as much sleep as a newborn, they do need consistent sleep. When your child doesn’t sleep, sleeping when the baby sleep doesn’t work. Consistent sleep-deprivation has consequences. Parents need to make their own sleep a priority. Be creative. When our son was young, I worked. Some days I went home and slept for 2 hours before picking our son up from daycare. OR, I’d work a few longer days, and take off early on a slow day and sleep for (gasp) 3 hours! If you don’t have daycare as an option, read on…

2. Enlist help

While not all parents have volunteers to stay up at night with the baby so the parents can sleep, most have someone who will come during the day. Ask for help. And accept it when it is offered. Don’t be prideful. Don’t shrug it off. Sleep is necessary and important. Ask them to come over and snuggle your child. Be sure they understand your child might cry the whole time. Our son’s grandparents, aunts and uncles and our close friends were willing. We weren’t good at asking.

3. Be transparent

Nothing good will come from pretending everything is fine. Don’t sugar coat what is going on. While there is a fine line between explaining the facts and complaining, if you aren’t truthful and transparent, your sleep-less existence will be lonely, and without help. And, others will not understand why you suddenly traded your social life for sleep.

4. Request advice from professionals

Assuming you are already navigating reflux treatment, don’t neglect to see lack of sleep as a symptom that needs to be addressed. When sleep is this difficult, more than just a pediatrician may be needed. Request a consult with a GI doctor, ask for a sleep study, or meet with an occupational or sleep therapist.

5. Try new strategies

I cannot advocate the ‘cry it out’ method because we learned that a hurting baby cannot self-soothe. They hurt and need help. However, there are many other great options to try. It is a good idea to try different sleep positions, but instead of buying a bunch of rockers, swings, crib wedges or chairs, borrow them. Research them. We used a Nap Nanny (no longer sold, but this Dex DayDreamer™ Infant Sleeper is today’s equivalent product) with an angled back to help with reflux. It was the only place our son ever slept at all for most of the first year. Please note: the most important comment on these sleepers is to never place them in a crib. They are intended to use on the floor for baby’s safety. 

6. Join a support group

Did you know there are GERD support groups all over the world? You can find the Reflux Rebels or Reflux Support Group on Facebook. The Facebook groups are generally closed, which means only group members can see your posts. You will find people struggling with the same issues, encouragement, and wise advice from real-life experience.

7. Don’t wake the baby

If your baby does not sleep, DO NOT interrupt sleep for any reason. The theory that sleep begets sleep is true in our experience. There is no event more important than your child’s sleep if they NEVER sleep. Do your best to set conditions for sleep and then protect that schedule. If that means leaving early, coming late, or not attending something, SO BE IT.

8. Pray

The best comfort I found during this time was prayer. And scripture. It is no surprise to God that you are tired or struggling. He sees your child and He sees you. Let Him carry you, and trust that He will bring both healing and sleep in His time. AND, know that your struggle has purpose, even if you cannot see it yet. Trust His plan, purpose and promise that He is working in all things for good of those who love Him…

9. Hang on to hope

Our son struggled for much longer than we wanted him to. And there were days we thought he would never, ever sleep through the night. But he did. And now he sleeps hard, and well. Eventually, even your child will too.

10. Know you are not alone

Other moms have endured what you are enduring. Find them. They won’t waste your time with advice that won’t work, they’ll instead spend their time listening and encouraging. They will understand that not all problems can be fixed with a book, herbal remedy, fancy swing or sleep-training method and they will remind you that some problems  have to resolve with time.

 

Big News

Months ago, we made a big deal with our two kids about going out to dinner. Just our family. My husband and I were so excited. We had BIG news to share with them.

A baby.

Their response? Well…it was lackluster at best.

Our 5-year-old son kept looking at the TVs to catch a glimpse of baseball. And the news seemed beyond our 2-year-old daughter’s comprehension. They smiled and moved on to asking for more water and chips.

The highlight of telling the big news wasn’t until 15 minutes later when our food arrived at the table.

Giving us a quizzical look, our son asked the only logical question a 5-year-old could ask under these circumstances.

“So…did you EAT the baby?”

Well…no. God put it there. Our son nodded. We could see his little mind pondering the new information. Then he voiced his confusion and curiosity as he watched me eat.

“But your food goes in your stomach…”

An excellent observation. We told him the baby is in my tummy, but not where the food goes. For lack of a better explanation, we told him the baby is in its very own water-balloon.

Apparently this was a satisfactory response.

He nodded, smiled and said nothing more about the baby. No questions. No excitement or sharing the news with others.

For months.

We continued mentioning and celebrating the baby, but our children continued as if nothing happened.

I guess a new baby wasn’t big news after all.

Two months later, I picked up my son’s artwork from his preschool cubby. And suddenly I was that mom, fighting back joyful tears in the preschool hallway.

Why? Because of this drawing of our little family:

Family Picture | thisgratefulmama.com

What more could a mama want?

After class, he told me all about how his teachers had been surprised and asked him about the little one in the belly. He proudly told them he was going to have a baby brother or sister. AND he had decided he wanted a baby brother.

It may have taken longer than expected, but they finally GET it. Hearing the baby’s heartbeat and the pictures and video from the ultrasound have certainly helped.

We now have one very excited soon-to-be BIG sister and BIGGER brother.

Now we just have to wait until May…

Grateful.

My heart may burst.

The New Mama Blessing Jar

New Mama Blessings Jar | thisgratefulmama.com

Today is the long-anticipated day.

My most dear friend, in all the world, is having her first baby. It makes me so happy I think my heart might POP!

Today.

Right now – well, I hope right NOW…but these things sometimes take time…

Upon hearing she and her husband were heading to the hospital last night, I got so excited. I’m amazed I even slept a wink, but am glad I did. In fact, I’ve been SO excited, I can’t sit, stand, or well, BE still. Lucky for me, I had a meal to make and bring to another special family who has also recently had their FOURTH baby (Amazing!).

It is good that I had something productive to keep me busy (kids are napping/or at preschool)! However, I finished the meal this morning so on the way to preschool, the kids and I stopped to pick up a few items to make some small gifts for the new mamas in our lives.

Whether it is your first time, or fourth time, being a new mama is a BIG job. You are in demand, yet you also have the great privilege of soaking up every single newborn baby sigh and snuggle.

With my extra energy and time (well, kind of free-time, I was too distracted to do much else), I thought I’d make a couple of gift jars. I made two. One went with the meal to our friends this afternoon and I the other will be shipped to my other friend along with a couple other small things I’ve been saving for this very momentous day.

The idea for a New Mama Blessing Jar started when I stumbled across cute scripture cards on the ThrivingHomeBlog.

The New Mama Blessings Jar | thisgratefulmama.com The New Mama Blessings Jar | thisgratefulmama.com

The downloadable PDF file gives 25 scripture verses surrounded by playful colors and patterns. They are cleverly titled “On the Job Meditations-25 Verse Cards For Moms“. I’m a believer that God’s word is much better that any I can come up with – what better gift than to give scripture to encourage a new mama?

My husband and I have been eating Mason Jar salads at lunch for a few weeks. I bought a case of mason jars when we started, so as I was packing our lunches for tomorrow, I noticed how the scripture cards would fit perfectly in a jar. The idea took off from there. The great thing about a jar is you can fill it with all kinds of little things that can bless a new mama, without going overboard, and every jar you make could be different and suited to the friend you give it to.

New Mama Blessing Jar Contents:

  • Dark Chocolate bar – Trader Joes (lower on sugar, and great for just a little treat)
  • Milk Chocolate Caramel Ghirardelli  squares – who wouldn’t want one?
  • Turkey sausage stick – Target (a little protein for a nursing mama)
  • Decaf Good Earth Tea – warm and relaxing
  • Dry Shampoo – if you haven’t used dry shampoo, you are missing out on a huge time-saver. Every new mama needs some, trust me. This way you can quickly freshen up when on the run, overslept, or hardly slept. Rockstar Dry shampoo is my favorite travel size you can get at Target. At just under $3, it lasted a long time, and worked great
  • Mints – see dry shampoo – quickly freshen up your breath when someone unexpectedly rings your doorbell
  • Chapstick – when you need it you need it, take it from an addict. Usually you’re holding a sleeping baby or nursing and can’t reach one when you realize your lips are dry. An extra one nearby is just a good idea
  • Gift Card – because the baby deserves something too, just for being born (but the mama can use it for herself if she wants to)

Thankfully, everything fit in the jar. It just needed a label or something to make it fun. I made a label for the jar and a contents list:

The New Mama Blessings Jar | thisgratefulmama.comThe New Mama Blessings Jar | thisgratefulmama.com

Then it was time to seal it up, and give it away – preferably with a meal (because when someone has a baby, YOU bring them food).

If the contents of these jars doesn’t suit your needs, other ideas to customize your own New Mama Blessing Jar include: small packs of nuts or crackers, hard candy, WISP disposable tooth brushes, travels tissues, hand lotion, twizzlers, nail file and polish, hair bands, and more…

What is your go-to gift for new mamas?