August 31, 2017. 2 years and 1 month have passed since my last blog post. 2 years and 1 month of life lived so fully, it’s hard to even know where to start. I had planned to blog about so many things over the last 2 years, yet somehow this blog has remained untouched. Engagement, marriage, a trip to Bali, a move, a trip to Europe, a job change, a trip to India, pregnancy, and now a baby. So much life lived. So much gratitude.
Perhaps one day I will go back and blog about some of the experiences over the last 2 years that have been “missed” in this little space, but for now, I will focus on the most recent event in the lives of the Anderson’s– the birth of a new Anderson. Our Anderson. Our baby girl, Hazel Jane Anderson. I can hardly believe that this little sleeping beauty wrapped snuggly on my chest right now has been in our arms for 3 whole weeks. 3 weeks ago, while listening to the same playlist that I have on as I write this, our baby girl peacefully entered our arms, and she has scarcely left them since.
I have promised to write out her birth story, and that part IS coming, but for now I want to take a few minutes to simply document the sweetest three weeks of our lives so far; for us, and our family, and any others who are interested in following along on our journey. My plan is to journal weekly. It’s overwhelming to think of how much has already happened and changed in these first three weeks, things that I simply don’t want to forget, so perhaps if I take a few minutes each week to journal, the time will appear to pass more slowly, and not as if I blinked and my child is now heading off to college or something.
I’ve already shared a little about weeks 1 and 2 on Facebook and Instagram, so for the sake of actually finishing and publishing a blog post tonight, I am going to focus this post on her 3rd week with us! Just like her 1st and 2nd weeks, Hazel’s 3rd week here in our arms has been full of so much love and adventure! For starters, we continued to enjoy our time with Jeremy’s parents, Hazel’s Mimi and Papa. I mentioned this last week but I feel it deserves another mention– our families went above and beyond to love and serve us while they were here visiting. We truly are so blessed. And so, so grateful.
Hazel’s second church service! We love and are so grateful for our Anderson side of the family! 💕
On Friday of this last week, Jeremy’s parents headed back to Chicago and his brother and his family arrived in Boone! We were so happy to welcome Uncle Eric, Aunt Lauren and cousins Emily, Caleb and Benjamin. We had a couple of hours of overlap which was nice as it was Mimi and Papa’s first time having all of their grandkids together! Our time with Eric and Lauren was short but very full! Hazel enjoyed many snuggles with her Aunt and Uncle and even her older cousin Emily! It made our hearts so happy to have such a full home! We are grateful for their visit and look forward to visiting all together again soon!!
Another highlight of week 3 with Hazel was the start of our Elimination Communication journey! I’m sure most of you have never heard of Elimination Communication (we hadn’t either until we were months into pregnancy) so instead of trying to explain it myself, I will include a link for anyone who is interested: https://godiaperfree.com/elimination-communication/ (Note: I have not read this website, so I may or may not agree with everything that is said, but hopefully it simply gives you an idea of EC!) I stumbled across this idea of EC while looking up how to cloth diaper. It was completely new to me, and quite honestly I was a little skeptical. However, as I began looking into it more, I couldn’t believe the number of success stories I was coming across! Was it really possible to “potty train” your BABY? Well, we had to at least see! 🙂 Week 3 was the week we decided to give it a go, and believe it or not, Hazel is completely on board! She LOVES it. Seriously. Baby girl VERY quickly picked up on the opportunity to not sit in a soiled diaper and she HOLDS IT. I know. I know. It’s crazy. But it’s our reality right now and we are just so pumped about it because let me tell you… once we do start cloth diapering, it will be a much more enjoyable experience when Mommy is cleaning mostly wet diapers and not dirty diapers as well. And, less diaper rash! Wins all around! 🙂 Way to go, Hazel Jane! Mommy and Daddy are your biggest EC cheerleaders! Can you tell??
As I’ve mentioned, we had family in town for the first 2.5 weeks of Hazel’s life. (Disclaimer: I believe Hazel has been “alive” for more than 2.5 weeks. I believe her life started at conception. That being said, for the sake of not having to find a different way of wording things each time I mention her time with us, when I mention something like “first 2.5 weeks of Hazel’s life” it should be understood that I mean her life outside the womb. :)) Jeremy was able to take some full days off of work, and then we decided it would be best for him to work half days for the remainder of his time off. This week was the first week of having no family in town, and it just being Hazel and Mommy each morning. Monday, our first morning together, was GREAT! We made it out of the house by 10:15 am (which is quite surprising considering while family was in town we slept until 10:30 am) and we were at Babes on Blankets by 10:30! Babes on Blankets is a weekly meetup for mom’s of babies under a year. We loved meeting new friends and sharing experiences together. And by “we” I mean “I” — baby girl slept through the whole thing. Typical. We made it home shortly after daddy and took a restful family nap. The rest of our evening was quite lovely. A friend brought us dinner, and after a visit with her, we took our dinner to the park for a picnic and to walk Gabby. Pretty lovely day, right?
Then day 2 came. Tuesday.
(I should mention here that we are taking a very “baby-centered” approach to caring for Hazel right now. We don’t believe that you can “spoil” a baby, and we also believe that this time is a critical time for babies to develop their joy capacity which will affect them for the rest of their lives. That being said, we are soaking up this time to love on our baby girl and are not making any attempt to regulate her schedule. Right now, among other things, this looks like nursing-on-demand and letting Hazel sleep often in our arms.)
Monday night was not very restful for me. It was the 2nd night in a row that I slept in my nursing chair the entire night. I woke up Tuesday morning and all of the sleepless nights to-date had caught up with me. I was officially sleep-deprived. All I could think about was sleep. However, baby girl had other needs. Like being nursed.
(I should also mention that nursing is still EXTREMELY painful for me. Baby girl has a very shallow latch, which leaves mommy in quite a bit of pain. I’m talking, shards of glass kind of pain. We are working on it, but 3 weeks of a shallow latch does a number on you. Hazel is getting plenty of milk, so it’s not a matter of her not getting what she needs, it’s more of momma feeling anxious about feeding her because I know the pain I am getting ready to endure. Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced in life. That our bodies not only grew this little life in our arms, but it is now sustaining that little life through milk from our breasts– don’t even get me started. Truly amazing. For that very reason, I am committed to feeding our girl this way for as long as my body produces milk, but the point is, it isn’t without pain. Come to think of it, didn’t I write a blog about beauty in the pain? Guess it continues to be true. :))
I had already nursed Hazel, and was desperate to now sleep. But not sleep with her in my arms. I NEEDED sleep. Laying on my back without a baby in my arms, sleep. But baby girl needed to be held. And to nurse a little more. I joke that each time Hazel cries to be nursed, I cry a little inside for my breasts. But this time was different. This time, for the first time, I cried real tears with her. I sat there in my bed, holding my sweet, crying daughter out in front of me, and bawled my eyes out. “Hazel baby, it’s okay. It’s okay sweetheart.” I knew what she needed. I knew she needed to nurse again. But she had done a number on me the night before, so the thought of nursing her in that moment was too much to bear. I was deathly tired and in so.much.pain. I drew her close to me and sung the song that I so often sing over her trying to comfort her in any way other than with nursing… “I love you, Lord. And I lift my voice. To wor-ship…” I couldn’t sing for all of the sobs. I stopped singing and just held her close to me. All I could think of was “I need help.” Over and over I said in my head, “I need help.” And as I said that, I thought of the long list of people who have offered help. The long list of people who I knew would be there in a second if I reached out. Yet I didn’t. I made every excuse in the book and ultimately decided not to seek help. It’s not like they could help with the immediate need anyways. Only I could meet that need.
So I mustered up the courage and nursed her. My tears dropping on her sweet little body, by God’s grace I nursed my baby girl. She calmed down. And I calmed down. I swaddled her sweet little body, went to the birthing ball, and bounced until she fell deeply asleep in my arms. And despite knowing how risky it was to try to put her down, I took a leap of faith and laid her down. And guess what! SHE STAYED ASLEEP. Long enough for me to get some food in me (something I am finding surprisingly hard to do these days– strange experience for a foodie like me!) and then lay down beside her and nap for a solid 2 hours! PRAISE THE LORD! We survived.
I share all of that for a couple of reasons. One, because I want to remember. But two, because transparency is really important to me. I would hate to only post the highs of our journey and lead someone to believe that it’s a walk in the park for us. Nursing is beautiful and at the same time so much harder than I ever expected. Sleep deprivation is a real thing, much more real than I ever expected. I want to talk about the difficult parts of our journey too. And if there are any other momma’s out there reading this who are also finding themselves saying “I need help” I want them to know, it’s okay. Me too. And even though I didn’t seek it out this time, I’m determined to seek it out going forward. I’m determined to set aside my pride and my fear of rejection, and for the sake of my sanity and my baby girl, I’m going to share these sweet snuggles with friends going forward. Because I have come to experience first hand that it’s true– it takes a village. Those first couple of weeks we had a village. My mom and then Jeremy’s mom would take Hazel each morning from about 7:30-10:30 am and snuggle with her while I slept in my bed, restfully. It was such a blessing and so very needed.
So, if you get a text from me asking if you want to come snuggle my baby girl, you’ll know why. 🙂
Tuesday evening we had a visit from our incredible doula, Hannah. I will share more about her in our birth story, but just know she is amazing and the visit was such a blessing. After another walk at the park, our baby girl got to meet my sisters best friend, Danielle. Many of you know that my sister, Ashley, joined the Air Force and is currently at BMT “Basic Military Training” in Texas. She left a couple of weeks before Hazel was born, so she hasn’t met her yet. It was really special to have Danielle meet her, and to look forward to Ashley meeting her soon! We love you, Danielle! Thank you for the visit!
Tuesday night was much more restful for all of us, so Wednesday was great! 🙂 Hazel and Mommy got up and got ready and made our first trip (by trip I mean 5 minute drive :)) to Samaritan’s Purse to visit daddy at work. We had a delicious lunch and then spent a few hours visiting everyone who prayed our girl into this world! It was a special time! Hazel was unusually wide awake for much of the visit. It was such a treat for everyone to get to see her bright eyed and taking everyone in. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and the sweet snuggles. It was a great way to spend her 3 week birthday!
Week three with our sweet girl has been such a sweet treat! It’s remarkable how much she has already changed from day one. We love the increased awake time that we get with her each day– we talk and share stories and just gaze into those beautiful eyes of hers. We love the sweet newborn snuggles that we still get for a little while longer! We know this season won’t last forever so we are grateful for each second of it. Every high and every low are such a sweet gift from the Lord.
Thank you for your continued love and support. And we especially thank you for your prayers! I have never been more grateful for prayers than I am during this season of life! Her birth was such a testimony to the power of prayer that each time someone tells us they have been praying for us I want to squeeze them out of gratitude. We feel your prayers. We know the Lord is answering them. If you would like to pray for us this week, here are some requests:
- Pray for our nursing journey. Pray that Hazel would develop a better latch and that I would begin to heal. Pray that if there is something that is causing her shallow latch, that we would figure it out and would be able to address the issue soon.
- Pray for good health for our family. Jeremy has come down with something and Hazel has a stuffy nose. Pray that Jeremy feels better soon and that Hazel nor I get whatever it is that he has. We will be traveling soon so it is really important that we all are in good health!
We love you all!