Confessions, Jesus, Letters to My Kids, Pregnancy

My Postpartum Self

My dear sweet Kirsten,

This is the first letter I’m writing to you as I look at your sweet little face, asleep and expressive right beside me. Last night was the hardest night yet, mostly because you’ve been such an amazing sleeper and eater. I think the most difficult part of your crying is when there seems to be nothing left to do to soothe you. The painful screaming just cuts open my heart. I was actually weeping with you last night, so sad that I couldn’t comfort you.

2016-01-07 22.12.45 But besides those rare moments, you are an incredibly “good” baby. You are an answer to my prayers in more ways than just your presence in my life. First, I prayed long and hard that you and I would learn to breastfeed well. I have heard so many painful and frustrating stories from friends, and I just wasn’t sure I could endure that struggle. Once again, God was overly gracious to me and you were an excellent nurser from minute one. We have been a great team, you and I. In fact, your pediatrician was thoroughly impressed with your health at your 10 day appointment. You weighed 7lbs 1/4 oz (we just ignore that quarter ounce because really?…) at birth and left the hospital at 6lbs 9oz. Just a week later you were up to 7lbs 3oz! What? You were surpassing your birth weight so quickly? and you’re breastfed? by a first time mom? Doctor really couldn’t believe it. And neither could I. That appointment went so well that rather than having us come in weekly for your weigh-ins, the Doctor said just come back at 30 days! Go you, Kirsten!

You have the silliest involuntary facial expressions. I crack up laughing sometimes and I can hardly wait to see you using those muscles on purpose.

2016-01-11 12.07.55

You have officially had two diaper blow outs. The first was a week ago and just a quarter-sized ring wet through your clothes and onto my jeans. But this morning…oh, this morning…after our longer-than-ever night last night it was as if you just had to put the cherry on top. Daddy and I were sitting in bed; I was nursing you and he was reading. You were eating and eating and pooping and pooping. I took a moment to lay you on your daddy while I got out of bed and I asked him to change you. That’s when I saw it! My sheets and my nightgown were soaked through with a huge amount of your poo! And of course I had conveniently just spread the mess to the duvet cover when I laid you on your daddy. Wow, way to go, Little Girl. We got you to the bathroom and cleaned you up. The bed was stripped and sheets were washed..and now I am officially a pro at putting on a duvet cover. I should make a youtube video or something. :)

And then there’s me, your momma. How am I doing, you ask? Thanks to be to God who poured out more incredible blessings. After my long marathon of labor and six+ hours of pushing, I managed to be controlled enough during that last push that I didn’t tear or need any stitches. What?! Another specific answer to a long-prayed prayer? Thank you, Lord. I was sore and moved cautiously those first 3 days after delivery. The sorest part of my body, though, were my arms and shoulders from all that pulling myself up during various pushing tactics. Oh and that TDap shot. ouch.

IMG_4833

By day 10 I felt really great and went on my first 3 mile walk down Keegan. It was a beautiful day and your daddy kept you cozy at home while I spent 45 minutes alone with God. Glorious. I went on another walk that week and the three of us walked laps at the mall last Saturday (since it was bitter cold outside). I have accomplished three different (highly modified) Jillian Michaels workouts, mostly doing strength training – weights and squats. I am avoiding all ab work because unfortunately I did end up with a diastasis. If I avoid making it worse with planks or crunches these next few weeks, I may be able to keep from permanent damage. I pray this is the case because all of yoga is core-based and I need (really want) to be back firing on all cylinders eventually.

Breastfeeding is the most amazing weight loss plan, though. Wow, I didn’t really believe I would be this lucky. I went into labor at 174 pounds, up 34 pounds from my original weight. (right on target. yay!) But even this 174 was distributed through my arms and legs, keeping me from fitting into almost any of my pre-pregnancy shirts and pants very early on. I thought for sure this would hang on for months after delivery. Nope. I came home 164lbs. By Day 8 I was 157lbs and this morning (Day 18), I was 149lbs. Never in a million years did I think I’d see the 140s again so quickly. I am able to wear all of my pre-pregnancy shirts already and most of my workout/yoga gear. My pants situation is a little different because right before I got pregnant I got rid of my “bigger” jeans – those 8s I was so acclimated to. I was smaller than ever and wearing 4s and 6s. Thus, I needed some “in between” pants. I went to goodwill last week and found four pairs of size 10s and was amazed I was already wearing 10s. And now this week, they’re already too big for me. Holy Moly. I’ll take it, though!

I have been managing about 6 hours of broken sleep a night which I appreciate. I tend to feel great and energized all morning and if I don’t get at least one nap before 4pm I’m kind of a mess, physically and emotionally. Know your limits, Mel, and respect them.

IMG_5219

Thank you, Father God, for healing my body so quickly and getting me back on my feet and feeling more beautiful than ever. My perception of my body has changed completely, and even if I never look exactly the same (I can’t imagine ever looking exactly the way I did before carrying and delivering a child), I am so, so thankful for the body I’ve been given. I am going to care for myself with respect and gratitude. And for now, I’m going to keep eating like a horse because ohmygosh breastfeeding makes you ravenous.

Advertisements
Standard
Husband, Infertility, Letters to My Kids, Pregnancy

Her Name

Nearly a lifetime ago, a sauve 17 year old boy made his intentions clear. The girl was 18 and naive to the world of dating, but she was confident that this guy could be trusted. God was good to weave our stories together, teaching us how to love, how to argue, how to commit.

It was 2004 and we didn’t go on lots of fancy or “official” dates during our dating years. Neither of us had a car, and money was needed for school expenses. Thus, we spent much of our time just hanging out around campus with friends and homework and dining commons food. And we liked it just fine. After one evening walk around the “P” loop, that young boy walked me back to my dorm. Somehow the topic of children came up, and Kevin shared with me a beautiful secret that I instantly cherished.

He said, with a twinkle in his eye, “If I have a daughter one day, I am going to name her Kjiersten Sophia.” He proceeded to explain the Swedish spelling to me (with that pesky “j”) and the correct pronunciation of “keerstin.” (Kevin’s maternal lineage is Swedish.) He remembered this name from his mom’s list when she wondered if her second baby would be a girl. (Hi, Brian!)

I practically melted into a puddle of sentiment right in front of him. This boy I was learning to love already had thoughts of wanting to be a dad someday. He had thought about her name and confided in me. I was smitten.

Years later in 2008, we entered into a covenant marriage during a sacred ceremony with family and friends. And after years of grad school and six moves and new drivers’ licenses and ministry and infertility we found ourselves expecting our firstborn, a daughter.

With just 6 weeks left until we meet our long-desired little girl, the reality of her life continues to point to God’s grace. Many people said, “You deserved this” or “we knew this would happen.” But the thing is, we didn’t deserve this child. We did nothing to earn favor in God’s eyes in March 2015. We had done nothing to deserve the years of infertility either. Part of me had come so completely into contentment with our childlessness that I wanted to remain the couple that displayed the grace of God for all to see, even though we never bore the child our hearts’ desired.

But for whatever reason, beyond our control, beyond our behavior, beyond our desires, God said to us,

This. This is the moment. This. This is the child to be born into the world. You. You are to be her parents. Raise her to love me, to serve me, to serve my world.

And just as we said “yes” to the barrenness and “yes” to adoption, we said “yes” to the pregnancy.

We found out by week 11 that our child was a girl. (Thanks to Natera and their fancy new DNA tests.) Immediately I set out on a name hunt. I pulled up the lists I had been collecting over the years. I scoured the internet for meanings and pronunciations, for popularity and spellings. We both determined that the meaning of the name was of utmost importance to us. Thus, any names we loved but lacked meaning were crossed off. We narrowed down our options. And I piled on more possibilities. Finally, on a long road trip, I read through the names and had Kevin veto any he didn’t like. That left us with about 10 choices for first names and 3 for middle names.

We made our decision. And a few weeks later, I changed my mind again. And again. Kevin patiently waited as I brought up new options and waffled back and forth, back and forth. At some point I settled on our original choice and we haven’t looked back. I became so certain, I used a generous gift card from a dear friend to purchase a Lisa Leonard necklace with Baby Girl’s name stamped on it. We managed to keep our lips completely sealed for the past many months, and we’re pretty sure some of you are DYING to know.

It is with great joy that we introduce to you Kirsten Grace Eccles.

IMG_4962

Kirsten (“kur-stin”) = Follower of Christ, anointed
Grace = Free and unmerited favor of God
Eccles = English version of the Greek and Latin (ekklesia and ecclesia), meaning church or assembly. (Not that we chose her last name, but still a pretty sweet meaning.)

Her name is our prayer and our thanks. May our daughter be anointed as a follower of Christ by the grace of God. IMG_4957

And now for a few more notes of explanation. For simplicity’s sake, we opted for a variant of the Swedish spelling and pronunciation (Kjiersten) of Kirsten. Given this first name connection to Kevin’s side of the family, it’s fitting that the middle name is in my family’s lineage. My maternal Grandmother’s middle name is Grace. (Hi, Grams!) And some of you may know that one of our dear friends and former youth group member’s name is Kirsten. We thought long and hard about whether or not to choose this exact name (mostly because I don’t like being a “copy cat.”) But in all of our correspondence with Kirsten over the past two years, we have been nothing but convinced that our desire would be to have our daughter live a life much like this young woman’s. She is passionate and unashamed of her commitment to Christ. She is genuine and kind, intellectual and studious. She is proof that “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1). So while our daughter is not name after Kirsten L., we would be most pleased if she grows up to live that kind of life.

IMG_4958

Dear Daughter of Mine,
As I write this post from the Niagara-on-the-Lake Tim Horton’s, you seem to know I’m talking about you. You are squirming and kicking and bouncing, almost as if you’re excited to say hello to me face to face. I can tell you with every assurance that I am even more eager to meet you. I pray for our journey ahead, those hours where we’ll work together to bring your life into this world. Your dad and I pray consistently that God would anoint you with his grace even now, and that we would be prepared to let you serve him however He calls. It is with great joy that I tell the world of my love for you, Kirsten Grace.

Love,
Your mom IMG_4956

Standard
Friends, Holy Yoga, Husband, Letters to My Kids, Pregnancy

Days Like This

Dear Little Girl,

Our days together, in this intimate relationship of pregnancy, are drawing to a close. As difficult as it has been to carry you, I am certain that I will miss (even grieve) your nearness. Over these months I have described many times the challenges of being pregnant. It is a hard, hard thing that cannot be truly explained with words.

But it is so beautiful. Isn’t that the way of creation? The hardest challenges can reap the most wonderful gifts? It’s even the way of God. The gift of our salvation, our restoration to righteousness, came as a result of Christ taking on human flesh and bearing a cross.

So I am grateful to be a part of this difficult, beautiful creation – your life. I cannot wait to meet you.

And I am so surprised at how I feel these days. As big and huge as I am, as near to meeting face to face as we are, I feel more “myself” than at any point during this pregnancy. In fact I feel stronger and more confident. I have been able to practice yoga every single day since the week of Thanksgiving (a first in many months!) I have been walking about 3 miles most days, often with your Daddy. We love that time together; we can’t wait to add a stroller to the mix.

And despite a cold affecting my health and the nearness of delivery looming, I decided it would be a good time to cook up that turkey and have some friends over. So I’m hosting a big, delicious dinner tonight, complete with homemade pies and cranberry sauce. Oh, and I did I mention it’s 60+ degrees out today…on DECEMBER 12TH?! what???? I might just get my wish of walking the parking lot (or the park) during early labor!

Here’s to you, Little One! Come quickly.

IMG_4753 - with Kevin//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsIMG_4740//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_4750//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsIMG_4755//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

 

Standard