Life After Kids

Being one of the first to have children in both mine and my husband, Greg’s group of friends we found a lot of them had questions.

A main one was “How does having kids change your relationship?”

It’s a bit of a hard question to answer as everyone’s experience is different. So to answer it for us- it was a little like this.

For us it was, it was basically love at first site. After not being together long at all (only 6 months pre falling pregnant) and only just under a year and a half before having kids, we never got that much time together. So when the time came and the baby bundle arrived we were a little bit over whelmed.

I always tell people after having babies you see the best and the worst in your partner. You may resent they can’t carry the baby, feed or birth when you’re in those really hard times. I hated watching him continue to have a life that was almost the same pre kids. He has the same body, is still going to work, still sleeping through the night, and still hangs out with his friends with out juggling sleeps, feeding and nappies.

It was really hard to adjust to mum life.

On the flip side of that you see the very best. You see the patience with a hormonal wife and crying baby, and the support they can offer. You see them rocking the baby to sleep at night when you’ve had enough, bringing you snacks when you’re hungry and breast feeding, choosing to sit at home with you instead of going out, and changing and playing with the baby while you catch up on sleep.

All these things make you fall deeper in love.

It is 100% a juggle and something every couple will have a different experience with. Nothing is perfect and the most perfect couple will have times that are tough and testing.

The best advice I have is to communicate and ask for help from your partner, as well as family and friends.

Since having our second we have a rhythm. We have more family activities, lots of compromise and more time spent with just us, as a couple. Setting up a calendar is key 👌🏽

Being A Parent Is The Greatest Adventure

Tonight I sat alone on the living room couch, watching my husband soothe our daughter to sleep on the glow of the baby monitor. I reflected on how being a parent is hands down the greatest adventure I have ever been a part of.

Sure, it has its ups and downs. Some days I don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn. Some days I want to pull my hair out in frustration with a baby who won’t stop fussing. And sometimes I wonder if I’m doing everything wrong raising this tiny human…

It’s definitely one crazy ride.

But I always try to remind myself on difficult days that I will never get this time with my daughter back again. I wonder where the time has gone already when I look back on these last ten months.

I remember the first few weeks my daughter was earth side. How quickly she learned I was her go-to person. She always needed me, always wanted me. I was her walking, talking, warm and comforting food source.

I remember I was able to soothe her cries quicker than anyone. I was the person who could whisk her to dreamland with little to no effort. I was the one she stared at with wonder or awe in her eyes. And I was lucky enough to be the reason for her first smiles.

She was completely a mommy’s girl.

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My husband would sometimes become frustrated that she preferred me over him. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t calm her cries as quickly, or put her to sleep as I did.

I understood his frustrations, and every once in awhile, I wished someone else could rock her to sleep so I could have a break.

But for the most part I secretly reveled in the fact that I was her lifeline. I felt on top of the world that I meant so much to this tiny human already, at just a few weeks old…

I remember holding my daughter and crying when she was just a few weeks old, knowing these precious newborn moments couldn’t last forever. She wouldn’t always be so small. She wouldn’t always rely on her mother.

I knew I would never get that day, or any of the precious past days back. She would never again be as little as she was in that moment…

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Then in the blink of an eye, ten months passed. About a week ago, the tables turned.

My daughter suddenly refused to let anyone hold her to sleep other than my husband, not even myself. All of a sudden when she wakes crying in the middle of the night, it’s my husband’s strong, comforting touch on her back she’s seeking. He is the only one who can soothe her wailing and put her back to sleep…

I thought to myself, when did things change so abruptly? When did she turn ten months old and become such a daddy’s girl? She already seemed to no longer need me as much. At least not at this current moment in time.

I’ve heard so many others say babies go through stages. Sometimes they prefer their mother, and other times they need their father. I, for one, can’t wait for my daughter to prefer her mother’s cuddles before bed once more.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see my husband triumph now! To succeed in the little things when it comes to parenting, as I once did just a few months ago.

But the slight difference in parental preference at night serves as a reminder of just how quickly time passes and changes… How short these last ten months were. How fleeting the baby years are in general.

Even eighteen years of childhood are so very brief when you actually think about it. In the blink of an eye, one day I am my child’s hero, while the next day my husband is. One day I’ll be helping her learn to walk, the next I’ll be watching her head off to college…

So tomorrow morning when my daughter wakes, I will hug her a little tighter. I will embrace every stage of her life. Each milestone in her childhood as it happens, even the difficult ones.

Because one day she will wake up and no longer need me as much at all. And one day she won’t need my husband as much either. That’s the beauty of this parenting adventure. Doing the best you can to raise a little human being in the time you are given.

So soak it all in moms and dads! Do your best to enjoy this fast-paced, chaotic adventure, full of learning experiences and growing pains for all. You’re doing the best you can. You’re not alone.

And just remember, it won’t last forever.

There’s only one part of this adventure that I know will always remain constant. Maybe it’s the most important…

I will always remember my daughter as she is right now. Beautiful. Ever-changing. Full of life. Youthful… My baby, forever.

And nothing will ever change this love my whole heart holds for her. A powerful mother’s love that adapts with each new season of both her life and my own. A love like no other I’ve ever felt before.

This is the greatest adventure.

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Traveling With A Little One: My Best Tips And Tricks.

I took my son Asher on his first airplane/out of state trip when he was 7 months old. Since then, he has been on 29 flights and to 19 states! We just visited the Outer Banks the first weekend in November and I always think back to that first trip when I was getting ready to pack and how nervous I was to embark on my first adventure with my infant in tow.

My husband, Casey and I got married at Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana. We wanted to celebrate our anniversary there but I wasn’t ready to leave my baby over night yet and I was still breastfeeding regularly. Wanting some alone time but not being ready for a baby-less vacation, we invited my mom to come along! I was SO nervous about being a new mom and traveling with an infant. What if his ears hurt? Would people be mad if he cried? What if I had to change a poopy diaper on the flight?!

The plane ride from Denver to New Orleans is almost three hours and I was totally consumed with what those three hours could hold for me. I read all of the blogs and Pinterest tips and was as prepared as I could be.

In the past three years I have traveled regularly with Asher, our longest flight being 7 hours nonstop and our longest travel day being 16 hours. We have had easy flights and we have had downright miserable travel days where we left at 2 am and didn’t get where we’re going for 13 hours. I feel like while it still requires a lot of planning I have definitely figured out some things since then that may be able to help moms who are feeling the same way I was on that first flight!

First off, planning ahead helps so much. When Asher was a newborn he mostly slept on flights which was great for both of us! But, that doesn’t always happen. Here is a list of things I would say are must haves for little ones:

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1. Diapers and wipes.
2. Hand sanitizer.
3. A blanket to lay them down on the floor in the airport so they can play or get changed. (I try to always fold it so the side that is on the ground is always folded up inside and is always the same side on the ground, that way they aren’t playing on the dirty side.)
4. Another clean blanket for covering them up in the plane, stroller, car seat etc.
5. A couple changes of clothes. That first flight to New Orleans, Asher had a major blowout and there was no changing table on the plane. My husband and I cleaned him while one of us held him up midair and the other one washed and changed him. It wasn’t easy, but it was feasible. Extra clothes are a must for kids and sometimes adults.
6. Small toys and books.
7. A bottle or sippy cup for take off and landing for their ears, if they are not breastfeeding. (I recommend nursing or giving them something to drink when you take off and descend to help relieve ear pressure. This worked great for us every time and often helped put him to sleep).
8. Stroller.
9. Baby-wraps (Keep in mind if your baby is in your baby wearing wrap at security they will make you take him/her out. Same goes for the stroller but they are great to have for the rest of the airport).
10. Snacks for you!

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Older babies and toddlers

I have added and changed some stuff on the list. Extra clothes and diapers are a must but we bring a lot more toys than we did when Asher was a baby. My absolute favorite airplane toys are slime and putty! They keep Asher busy for so long and they are less messy than playdough. Make sure they are under 3 oz because airport security considers them a “gel or liquid” and they will take them if they are more than 3 oz. I also love to bring coloring books, magnet play sets, reusable stickers, and small games like memory cards. Amazon has great reusable sticker activity books.

We bring Asher an iPad for long flights. We only let him watch the iPad on airplanes. We do this because we feel like it makes it special for him and gives him something to look forward to. Since he isn’t allowed to watch it at home, it is a lot more fun for him to have something that is just for airplanes. We also use it as a last resort. Once we have played all the games, read all the books, and eaten all the snacks – he can watch his iPad. Some parents let their kids watch their iPads the entire flight and I am all for that as well. If that works for you and gets you through a tough travel day, I call it a win.

We hit bad weather flying home from Georgia this spring and had to be rerouted to a nearby state and were stuck on the plane for 4 hours longer than planned. I can’t imagine the meltdowns we all would’ve had if Asher didn’t have a movie to watch. Asher wasn’t into videos until just recently so we haven’t used that as our main form of entertainment. It’s also nice to have backups in the event of a dead battery, or no WiFi, etc.
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My other bit of advice when packing is to always bring a reusable water bottle and snacks, especially if your child has any dietary restrictions. Finding food at weird times and in a hurry in an airport can be challenging and stressful when you’re hungry so it never hurts to have a backup snack.

Car seats

When we plan to rent a car at our destination, I always bring my own car seat. We have rented them a couple of times and I always prefer to have my own. You can check your own for free at ticketing and it will arrive in oversized baggage at your destination. I’ve had to use rented car seats that are filthy. They have been out of infant or toddler seats and we have had to wait while they go get one from another rental facility (which is the worst when you’ve been traveling all day already), and they are usually expensive to rent.

Strollers

We always bring our stroller to the airport and check it at the gate. You just have to get a stroller tag at your gate and leave it right before you get on the plane.

We have always been really lucky with Asher on the plane. He enjoys it and is usually really good, but if your little one does have a meltdown or cries uncontrollably, just remember that a lot of the people on the plane have kids of their own and have been where you are. They know it’s hard and you’re trying your best. Flight attendants are often awesome with kids and will try and help you calm them or redirect their attention. If you know of something that may help, ask them. I can almost guarantee they will do it. If nothing helps and people are starting to give you snarky looks or making comments, remember that they are grown adults and they should’ve brought their noise cancelling head phones. No one wants their child to cry on an airplane- just try your best to stay calm and know it’s temporary.

Taking your kids on trips can seem overwhelming and be a lot work, but after that first flight, you will feel like a pro. Traveling with Asher has been my favorite thing. We have seen so many things together and at just three years old he has met so many wonderful people along the way. I know that all of those red eye flights and late nights packing and planning have been completely worth it. Take the trip! You will be so glad you did.

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Finding Gratitude Through Tough Times

“I don’t want to carry gratitude in seasons. I want to carry it in my bones. I want it to rest on my tongue like it is a language that I never stop speaking.” -Arielle Estoria

I saw this quote the other night and it really resonated with me, especially with the holidays just around the corner! Yes, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to celebrate all of the blessings in your life, and yes we all know we are of course just as thankful throughout the remainder of the year, but do we really focus on that gratitude outside of the holiday season? A lot of us do not. And what about when life has been particularly hard to us? How can we focus on gratitude when we feel like life has been unfairly cruel?

Having a special needs child has completely changed the way I celebrate gratitude. Madison is a constant reminder to be thankful. When you have watched your child fight for their life, and when they are left with needs in which people can’t tell you what to expect or how long you’ll have with them, every single day with that child becomes a blessing you are immeasurably thankful for. Every moment with her is a reason to be thankful because I truly don’t know what her future holds.

And special needs or not, the day to day of motherhood is HARD. There is no question about that. In fact, for many women their journey to motherhood is HARD. It doesn’t come easy to everyone. And when you’re longing for a family of your own, the holidays can be tough to bare.

When in the moment each day seems so hard, it can be difficult to be thankful. There are days when I just curse this universe for what it’s done to Madison and my family. How can I feel thankful when the daughter I’ve waited for my whole life was stolen from me at just 11 days old? And sometimes I let myself feel that way. I let myself have days where I’m angry and sad and that’s ok, because I have every right to be. That’s right mamas, you can be thankful AND be sad! We can be grateful AND be angry. We can feel all of our feelings, as long as we don’t let ourselves get stuck in the sad ones.

I have a lot of hard days as a special needs mama, but then I remember how much sadder I would be had Madison not survived. I think of all of the incredibly strong superhero parents that I’ve seen lose their children far too soon, and I know that I’m lucky I have this time with her. So even though I don’t always like this special needs journey I’m on, there are still things to be thankful for. There are still things all of us can be thankful for, even through the darkest times when it may not feel true.

Community

Personally, I am thankful for my husband and his unconditional love and support. I could not get through life without him. I’m thankful for our family and friends who stand by us everyday, help us when we need, and simply check in on us to see how we’re doing. I’m thankful for the doctors, nurses, specialists, and therapists who saved Madison, who continue to make her care a priority, and who have helped her get to where she is today. I’m thankful for the other special needs mamas that I’ve connected with over the year. These mamas have helped me immensely in learning about new treatments or side effects, have given me stories of hope, and also been those I could vent to knowing I would not be judged because they are the only ones who truly know what I’m going through. It’s a tribe I never thought I’d be a part of, but I’m blessed to know so many incredibly strong women.

It’s important as mamas that we find our tribe and hold onto them. For some of us our community consists of family or friends. For others, a yoga class or coworkers. Hell, your community might be an online support group of women you don’t even know in person, it doesn’t matter! Let’s value those relationships ladies, and be thankful for the people in your life that make you smile and lift you up, even when you may not realize it.

Progress

Sometimes it’s hard to see how far Madison has actually come, but when I think back to last year I realize how much more fragile she was. It’s so easy to focus on the areas our children struggle, especially when your child’s developmental goals are things that come so easy to a healthy child, but we need to remember to celebrate the inchstones too. Any progress is better than no progress and is something to be thankful for. No matter what Madison is able to accomplish, you can bet I’ll be proud of her. We cannot compare our child’s accomplishments to another’s. Try not to stress on the missed milestones or areas your child is struggling. Take it from the mama of a medically complex babe, these things truly don’t matter! Celebrate their health. Celebrate the things they CAN do. Celebrate the fact that you have a child when so many women long to be mothers. Celebrate your child for exactly who they are and watch how much fuller your heart becomes.

Strength

Being on the special needs journey will mold you into a completely different person. I can’t tell you how many times people compliment me for my strength, but in all honesty, I have no other option but to be strong. Being an advocate for a medically complex child will make you more resilient, unafraid to speak your voice, smarter, more compassionate and understanding, and less judgmental. I have no time to worry about anything in life other than Madison and my family. Nothing else matters. And I’m thankful for this strength that has allowed me to think like that. It can be hard to be confident in our mothering abilities. We all wonder if we’re doing enough, even though most days it feels like we couldn’t possibly give any more. But trust me, you are enough. There is no one stronger than a mother. The days may be long and hard, but remember to be thankful for them; for they have made you the strong, badass woman you have become!

Resources

I’m also extremely thankful to have so many educational resources at my fingertips. With each diagnosis and with each failing medication, all I do is research what else I can do for Madison. What meds haven’t we tried that might work? What alternative treatments are available? What therapies have worked for others? I can’t imagine going through this journey in a country where the access to education and resources is limited. We’re lucky to be able to research and learn on our own and to have the ability to travel freely to esteemed medical professionals. Fertility struggles? Marriage problems? Addiction? The list goes on and on for the plethora of difficulties we might face, and yet there are so many resources available to help us through. Going through hard times can cloudy our want to be thankful, but it’s important to remember that we have resources to help pull us out, and that is a blessing in itself.

The Chaos

The pure chaos of motherhood may seem like something silly to be thankful for when it’s also the thing that drives us crazy, but trust me, it is. So your house is a mess? Be thankful to have a roof over your head. Be thankful your child is able to make that mess. It means they are learning and playing and figuring out this world, a joy that a mama of a disabled child, like me, would give anything for. So you’re juggling therapy and doctors appointments for your medically complex child? Be thankful you’re able to offer them care and opportunities to grow. So you’re balancing fertility appointments or childcare with work? Be thankful you have a job, a safe place to send your child, or the means to explore the wonderful advances science has to offer in helping you start or grow your family. The chaos, as exhausting as it might be, simply means we are living!

Let’s also remember that feeling grateful and being grateful are two different things. No one feels grateful for the bad things that happen to them, but despite those things, we can choose to BE grateful for the things we do have. Being forced into some really tough times has showed me not to take anything for granted, as I’ve seen firsthand how quickly life can change. When you learn that the things you love most can be taken away in an instant, you become immensely more thankful for them. My gratitude for the good times has also provided me hope and the will to keep going.

So as you sit with your loved ones this holiday season and reflect on how hard this year may have been, remember to instead focus on all that you DO have. There were moments and people and learnings and even your own bravery through these times, that you can and should be thankful for. Let us remember to be thankful every single day, and not just during the holidays. And above all, please be thankful for the health of yourself and your children. Not all mamas, like myself, are as lucky in that regard. Hold those babies close and I promise you, you’ll feel more reasons to be thankful than you ever imagined possible. Here’s to a wonderful holiday season mamas! We’ve got this!

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Kelly Backiel is a wife, and SAHM to her daughter, Madison. Madison was diagnosed with meningitis at 11 days old, leaving her with severe brain injuries and complications. Kelly blogs about her experiences as a special needs mom, and hopes to spread awareness and support to others in similar situations. She is a fan of the beach, and a nice glass of wine! Read more about her here!

13 Labor And Delivery Tips For A First Time Mom

The thought of giving birth can be terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be. For me, the first time I had a baby the thing that scared me the most was not the pain but the fact that I didn’t know what to expect.

I asked a group of women who recently had babies what kind of advice they would give a first time mom who is ready to pop. Here is what we came up with.

Don’t panic!

Things are not going to be exactly what you’ve planned, so be prepared to roll with the punches. No matter what happens, the least helpful thing you can do is panic.

Have your support person know your wishes

You may be too medicated to be able to make those decisions for yourself.

Things can change at the drop of a hat

You may have a textbook pregnancy your whole 40 weeks, and then while you are in labor and delivery, things can change.

The epidural may not work.

Don’t rely on having a epidural for pain management because sometimes they may not work. Even if they do work, they may only work on half of your body, or they may work for a little while and then completely stop.

Educate yourself on coping methods

Even if you do plan on having an epidural take a birthing class or at least watch a video on YouTube to help learn breathing techniques and other coping methods. Epidurals may not always work, or you may not have time to get one.

Do not feel ashamed if you end up getting an epidural

If you decide throughout your whole pregnancy that you are going to have an unmedicated birth, it’s okay to change your mind!

Have a birth “wish”, instead of a set in stone plan

Birth plans are great. They help put in writing what your wishes are and help keep your care team aware. Just know that sometimes things change, and not everything in your birth plan may be feasible. You may need to be flexible. You’re birth plan may say “no Pitocin”, but if you aren’t progressing naturally, well then Pitocin may be needed if your water has broken. In most situations, you have 24 hours after your water breaks to get that baby out!

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Don’t be embarrassed by anything

OBGYN’s, midwives and L+D nurses deal with bodily functions on a daily basis. One of the biggest worries many women have when thinking about giving birth is worrying about pooping on the bed. Chances are you are going to be so focused on getting that baby out that if you do poop while pushing, you are not even going to care. Nurses see it happen ALL OF THE TIME. They will quickly switch out the liner and you may not even know it happened!

Consider hiring a photographer or have a friend of family member take pictures.

You are about to meet the love(s) of your life and like your wedding day, pictures are a great keepsake!

You do not need to pack much in your hospital bag

Keep your hospital bag to a minimum, You are going to have lots to carry out, especially if you have visitors and they bring gifts for the baby

You may swell up

Sometimes the IV/ medications mixed with labor will make you retain water and start to swell up. If you have rings that fit you, or any tight bracelets, make sure to take them off before leaving for the hospital. They may be hard to take off if you start to swell, and swelling will most likely not be something you are thinking about while in labor.

Take off your bra when you get to the hospital

It may make things easier if you decide to get an epidural. Even if you don’t want an epidural if you become uncomfortable and want it off, the nurses will have to unhook your IV so the strap doesn’t get caught in it. Also if you wear a sports bra or a bra without a clasp it makes it even more challenging to get off. Believe me, when you’re ready for that epidural, you do not want to have to wait any longer than you need to, especially if its just to take your bra off!

The goal is to have a healthy baby, healthy mom

The rest is just a bonus!

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What pieces of labor and deliver advice would you give to someone who is about to have a baby?

 


 

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Paige Martinek is a SAHM to her stepsons, son and daughter. She enjoys road trips, long drives along the lake, writing, reading and talking about anything pregnancy related. She is an infertility awareness activist and plans on going back to school to become a L+D nurse. You can read more about her here!

A Note From Your Tired Mama

I was exhausted, and it was only 9am. I eagerly awaited 9:30, so I could put you and your brother down for your morning naps. I checked my email on my phone, as I tried to slowly rock you in my other arm, but your wide eyed, baby blues kept staring up at me. “The Wiggles” was on tv, and I sang along to “Rock A Bye Your Bear” for the billionth time in my head, as your brother did the dance moves like he was born knowing them.

Oh good, “the bear is now asleep”. Time to turn off the tv, and get the two of you in bed. I didn’t care if it was 15 minutes earlier than usual, this mama needed a nap too. I put your brother right in his crib, but you of course were fussy and wouldn’t sleep on your own. It doesn’t help that you are a total mamas girl and need to be by me all. of. the. time. It’s okay though, I’d snuggle you in my bed and then put you next to me in the bassinet once you were soundly asleep.

Have I mentioned how tired I am? I was up most of the night before while you slept, trying not to worry about every day life. You know, the messy kitchen with a sink full of last nights dishes. The living room that needed to be vacuumed, and the bills piling up on the kitchen table that your dad and I need to budget together. Money has become tight since we went down to just one income so I could be a stay at home mom.

I put on the Baby Mozart station on Spotify (my go to), and hoped that you would fall asleep quickly. I checked the baby monitor and saw your brother jumping in his crib. I told him to lay down over the intercom and prayed he would soon stop.

It was 9:30, but felt like noon. It had been a long morning filled with tears ( not just yours and your brothers, I cried too). It is hard raising a 6 month old and a 18 month old at the same time. When one of you cries, the other one joins in in perfect harmony. And your brother is at the age where everything is his, so sorry about that rattle you thought you’d get to play with today.

This Motherhood thing is so much harder than I thought that it would be. Other moms on Instagram make it look so easy. They’re always out having fun. Their toddlers are perfectly behaved at the park, and they are carrying their infants in their expensive babywear, while rocking cute shorts in their perfect postpartum bodies. I know it’s their highlights, and I often wonder what their lives look like behind a perfect camera angle and bright filter, because honestly ours is often a hot mess. It’s still hard not to compare though.

Oh good, your brother finally laid down, and your eyes were getting heavy. I thought to myself that I should just go do the dishes. I had just remembered there were 4 loads of laundry that needed to be done too. I mentally made note of the other 10 things I needed to finish as I waited to make sure you were fully asleep before trying to pick you up and put you in your bassinet.

You were out. But I couldn’t pick you up. Not because I was afraid of you waking up as I made the transfer, but because as bad as I wanted to go to sleep myself, I suddenly just wanted to watch you sleep.

You looked so peaceful, snuggled up to me, with your face pointed toward mine. I laid there and forgot about how tired I was because I just wanted to soak in that moment. A year earlier I had moments like this with your brother, and now they were few and far between. You wanted nothing more than your mama, and I could tell you felt complete comfort wrapped in my arm.

It is clichĂ©, but I was reminded that the days sometimes drag on, but the years fly by. As I sat there watching you sleep, I wondered what your life was going to be like; who you were going to be, what you were going to do. You’ve already grown so much in these 6 short months.

And then I thought about my mom 30 years ago, exhausted just  hoping that I would just take a nap so she could get some rest. I thought about how she probably held me in her arms and watched me sleep, wondering who I would grow up to be. I pictured her holding my little hands not knowing it would be the last time she would hold me like a baby because poof, life went by and before she knew it I was a toddler… a teenager… an adult… a mother.

So I will soak up these moments because I know they are not always going to be like this. Before we know it, you may be here too… a tired mother watching her baby sleep.


 

 

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Paige Martinek is a SAHM to her stepsons, son and daughter. She enjoys road trips, long drives along the lake, writing, reading and talking about anything pregnancy related. She is an infertility awareness activist and plans on going back to school to become a L+D nurse. You can read more about her here!