Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! (Well, Happy New Year's Eve, to be exact.) Oh what a year it has been. I would say 2014 was the best year EVER! I used to say that the best days of my life, with the exception of my wedding day, was the days I spent traveling Europe with my husband. These days though, not even the eiffel tower can compare. My heart is so full. My family is a dream come true. What a beautiful way to start the new year!
 

While you may be like my husband, and prefer to sleep through the midnight minute of New Year's Day, I admit I am the type of person that looks forward to the magical idea of all the potential new beginnings that are brought in by the new year. I am, of course, fully aware of the statistics related to New Year's resolutions. But I do enjoy formulating some new goals. I am a woman who loves checklists, structure, and goals. So call this my resolutions or  call it my goals.  But this little momma has some plans to share.
 
 
 
So let me start with a huge thank you to my followers.  Blogging has brought me so much joy these past two months. I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts and my story. I am truly honored to have you investing time with me.
 
As a new blogger, I knew this would be a bit of a learning experience. And I think I have learned a few things along the way. One of the plans I have for 2015 is to reevaluate my commitment to research articles. My thoughts are that these pieces would be more practical if they were converted to bonus pieces. In other words, moving forward, instead of publishing a research piece at the beginning of every month, these extensive pieces will be posted as they are completed. I have made this decision in order to be sure that I am able to invest the adequate amount of time needed to complete these data heavy blog posts to my standards. This alteration also makes time for a new Little Momma Momment element I am stoked to announce!
 
Introducing Illustrated Faith! My faith is very important to me. It is really the foundation for who I am. I'm a child of my Father in heaven. I'm a daughter of Christ the King.  I am a follower of the Holy Spirit. Illustrated Faith is a way for me to creatively grow closer to the greatest artist there ever was. For some people Illustrated Faith looks like notes in the margin. For others it is watercolor paintings. Some draw or use stickers. While the execution and the methods vary, the goal is the same: study & experience God's word in a way that resonates with your creative spirit. Boy oh boy, this is right up my alley.
 
Entry #1- Celebrating our good and perfect gift from above.
(James 1:17 - Every good and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is
no variation or shadow due to change.)
 
So here is my New Year's resolution. I would like to grow my faith by increasing the time I spend reading the Bible. I will be exploring different artistic medians to produce art inspired by what I read. And once a month, I will post a Little Momma Moments piece sharing what I have learned and what I have illustrated. I am so excited to see where this journey takes me. Plus I have the added excitement of starting this journey alongside my Little Momma, Catherine.
 
 
So here we go. In just a collection of minutes a new year is beginning. And I am ready to soak up the joy, rest, protection, and peace that God has in store for me. Happy New Year!
 
Love,
Little Momma,  April Faith

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Heart Challenge; The No Judgment Pledge

A couple of weeks ago I heard a women talk about how sad she was to see a women playing on her cell phone while taking her child on walk around the neighborhood. She said how she feared the mother was missing out on an opportunity to bond with her child and expose the child to vocabulary. As I listened to her story I felt my self getting slowly more and more frustrated. But why? I mean I honestly respected her, and even agreed with her sentiment that technology can be a barrier to valuable interactions with children. But I was definitely having an adverse emotional response. Hmmm…


Well here it is. Her reaction to the mom in her neighborhood was a trigger to emotion I had felt when someone had judged me about my phone usage. You see my daughter was two days old and in the NICU. (First I should tell you we had an INCREDIBLE experience with all of the hospital staff, except for this one woman who had the day shift on day two of Little B’s life.) With my room being in the post-partum unit and my brand new precious little baby being on another floor in the NICU, we had to decide where we would spend our time while in the hospital. And honestly that decision was a no brainer. We spent every waking moment we could in the NICU except for the times I was pumping and the times the nurses were having a shift change. So after the shift change which brought in the day crew for day two, we were at the door ready to see our daughter. We did the whole hand washing routine and came to sit next to her incubator. Though she was asleep, I wanted to hold her. Remember, she was only two days old, so if I only held her while she was awake, she would not be held very often. Anyways, unlike the previous two shift nurses, we were told no. I was heartbroken. (FYI- I will write more about the NICU experience in another post) Then I decided I would take a few more snap shots of MY kid, no one else's, just my kid. Exactly like we had done the past two shifts. But, she came to tell me I was breaking a NICU policy by taking pictures of OUR kid. Oh my goodness, as if I  hadn’t been crying enough. So we take a seat next to our daughter’s incubator and I log on to Facebook to send a private prayer request message to my prayer warrior friends… but guess what this little ray of sunshine (*sarcasm*) decided to tell me. She said that I should not be playing on my phone! And that while I’m in the NICU I should be with my daughter. And that cell phones have all kinds of germs that I could give my daughter. And that I should think about the extensive hand washing policy to realize how careful NICU visitors needed to be in regards to germs!

Oh My Goodness! At this point I felt like a completely incapable mom. Every single thing I did was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Holy cannoli! I was shaking by this point. I felt totally cut down. (On a quick side note, I know she probably had good intentions to stick with every policy ever written. And I know that policies are written for the best health outcomes of each little NICU life. But, I was soooo overwhelmed by her aggressive enforcement.) So anyways, a saying my mother had said to me came to mind, and honestly I have said this mantra over and over in the past 4.5 months of Little B’s life. I remembered “God picked me specifically to be the mother of THIS child.” I was a good mother! Though my daughter was only two days old, I had long prepared for motherhood, and I was the exact mother Little B needed. I WAS capable of being her mom.

Now fast forward and it was again time for my pumping session, so I left and then came back. After the hand washing routine, I went to my sleeping daughters side and told the nurse, I wanted to do skin to skin with her. I asked the nurse if she would prefer for me to go ahead and take her out of the incubator on my own, or if she would like to help me. She reactively hesitated and then said ok. She then had the nerve to go on to explain the benefits of skin to skin!!! YES I KNOW, I was screaming inside! THAT IS WHY I WANTED TO HOLD HER THIS MORNING!" *phew* What a whirlwind! Eventually other nurses were catching on to what was going on, and started coming by to support us, but let’s just say I was relieved when shift change came that night!

*Okay, deep breath*

Now back to the cellphone and parenting comment. Please let me be clear here, I believe the woman from the story that started this post was not specifically trying to pass judgment on the mom with her cell phone on the walk, but rather trying to illustrate how a little momma moment was possibly being missed at that exact minute. However, her comment clearly brought emotions to the surface that I may not have fully processed in the prior 3 months. While I can still gleam insight from her point, her comments triggered emotions from a time I felt very judged. Like I said earlier, I agree that being consumed with technology poses a great danger to valuable interactions with our children, but what I'm getting at, is that we should think twice before drawing conclusions about someone else's ratio of (technology time : child interaction time). We should think twice before judging someone as this nurse had judged me.

This letter entitled "Dear Mom on the iPhone: You’re Doing Fine." originally published on a blog called Real Life Parenting sums up my point beautifully. Jennifer Hicks writes:
 "Dear Mom on the iPhone,
I see you at the park with your kids, phone in hand. Your cherubs are running around playing and calling out “Mommy, watch me!” They go down the slide squealing in delight yelling “Mommy, watch this!” As they climb the ladder to go again, they shout “Mommy, I want you to watch me!! Mommy, watch! Mommy! Mommy!! MOMMY!!!!”

But you’re not watching … because you’re on your phone–checking Facebook, email, or Pinterest.

You’re not watching … because you just spent every waking hour before arriving at the park watching everything your child did. Every. Little. Thing.

You watched as he ate his breakfast and “drove” his waffles around his plate. You watched as he held the fork upside down and stabbed at bites with the handle and said “Mommy, now watch me do this!” And then he picked up his napkin and put it on his head. And you were watching.

You also watched as your daughter picked out her clothes–only the shirt with the monkey on it would do today. Then you watched as she got dressed. You watched while she struggled to put on her socks–determined to do it herself. You watched–sometimes helping and guiding but knowing that letting her figure it out is an important part of learning and growing.

You watched when she twirled around her bedroom. You watched as she played with her stuffed animals. You watched as she put away her toys. Slowly. Stopping to play with most of them on the way to the toy box. You were watching it all.

You watched as your kids brushed their teeth and hair. You watched as they played blocks and Playdoh and had a dance party. You also joined in the playtime because you love being a part of their fun. You watched while they pooped and you helped wipe their bottoms. You watched them wash their hands with too much soap–or maybe not enough. You watched as they splattered water all over the sink. You watched them jump off the stool. You watched as they ran around the house with wet hands.

You’ve been watching your kids–playing with them, helping them, singing and dancing with them all morning. All day. And now, at the park, when they can run around and play, you’re taking a few minutes for yourself on your phone.

Maybe you work from home and you’re still actually working, checking email, responding to clients, sending a proposal. Your lucky kids have the benefit of spending some of that time playing outside, making new friends, running off steam, enjoying the sunshine. Kudos to you for giving your kids such a fun way to spend part of their day while you take care of business.

Maybe you have a friend or family member who’s been ill and you’re taking some time while the kids are happily occupied to send some texts to check in on them, arranging the timing to know when you should drop off dinner at their house. Or you might be looking for the email follow-up for your own test results you’ve been waiting on. Maybe you’re writing or reading kind messages on Facebook, offering condolences for the loss of a loved one. All while your kids are outside, enjoying some free time to play.

Maybe you’re on Pinterest looking for ideas to help your kids adjust to their dad’s latest deployment–finding tools to help them stay connected or searching for party ideas to welcome him home.

Maybe you have an older child in school and his teacher emailed you about a concern with behavior that you need to address … and now that you have a few minutes with your younger kids happily playing at the park, you return a message.

Or maybe you realize that watching your kid every second of every day isn’t necessary and that it’s totally acceptable–and actually good for everyone involved–for you to have a few minutes to yourself. At the park. On your phone.

So, to you, dear Mom on the iPhone, I say this:

I’m not going to judge you. I don’t know you. I don’t know your story. But I do know that you don’t need to watch every hop, skip, jump, twirl, swing, bite, song, dance, blink, or breath to be a good mom. There’s a lot that demands our attention in this parenting life–and a lot that we want to soak in and enjoy. There’s also a lot that happens in our lives outside of parenting that we cannot neglect. While parenting might be our most important and rewarding job, it’s not the only one. We’re all working on balance and finding that area where we can be satisfied that we’re making enough time for it all. For the record, we’re all failing at that. Every single one of us wishes we were better at juggling our responsibilities … and many of us spend time beating ourselves up for how we’re doing. You’re doing fine. As long as you’re doing your best to make it all work for your family, you’re doing just fine, and that’s what matters.

It’s actually good for your kids to know they’re not the center of your attention every second of every day. It’s good for them to learn to play independently and do things on their own without accolades for Every. Little. Thing. That’s good parenting–allowing them to learn that some things are satisfying just for the fun and enjoyment of doing them, not for the praise or attention that comes with them.

So, find your balance. Be a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, neighbor, mentor, employee–wear all the hats you need to wear. Do what needs to be done … which sometimes includes taking a little time for yourself–even if it’s just checking Facebook while your kid runs around playing at the park.

Sincerely,

This Mom with an iPhone who isn’t judging you for yours"

So there you have it. I couldn't have said it better myself. So thank you Jennifer Hicks for saying what my heart felt. My response to your post is THANK YOU! Oh how I wish that NICU nurse had read this before she met us. I wish she understood this before she enforced a policy without any sight of bedside manner. What a powerful message, reminding us that though it may be SOOOOO easy to judge other parents, we really should think twice.
 
Realistically and unfortunately, it is so easy to judge others for a multitude of things, not just this technology issue. I was actually reminded this week that just because someone parents differently then me, it doesn't mean that their quality of parenting is some how lesser than my own. It just means they parent differently then me. And just because I parent differently then someone else, it doesn't have to mean that I think their way is wrong. I simply parent my way. We really should think twice, and keep our hearts and mind in check. In fact, I am issuing a challenge! A challenge of the heart. If you have read this, will you join me in this No Judgment Pledge.
 
I, April Faith (Replace with your name of course, lol!), pledge to keep my heart in a place of support instead of judgment when interacting with, or observing other parents.
 
Short and sweet, but to the point. I may not succeed every time, but I believe having a predetermined mind set will help guide my behavior.
 
Your turn. Accept the challenge.
 
Love,
Little Momma, April Faith

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Miraculous Pregnancy and A Warrior Child; Part 1

I decided to hold back on last Friday's Reflection piece until today, because today is exactly one year since my life FOREVER changed into something much more sweet! I discovered I was pregnant! So on this December 10th, I hope you enjoy sitting back and reading this story of overwhelming happiness.

_____________________________________________________________

Happiness is…
...finding out they were wrong!
Infertility = 0
God = 1


Happiness is...
...realizing God was doing something BIG!
Could I have totally missed it? Was I really late, and I totally missed it? I'm not the kind of girl who misses this kind of thing... but did I this time? I was in such disbelief of the idea that I could have missed it; I simply couldn’t even bring myself to take a pregnancy test. After years of struggling with infertility and many MANY negative pregnancy tests, I was in no rush to prove that I was miscalculating and thus just getting my hopes up. So I decided to wait. I picked a day in the following week and I was going to wait.
 
Then came the 3rd hour of Tuesday, December 10th, 2013... Though the arbitrary day I had deemed pregnancy test appropriate was still 21 hours away, I woke up with an overwhelming desire to test. And then I saw something I’d never seen before. I saw two beautiful pink lines. One line for the control, and one line that meant God was doing something BIG. A line that meant despite a failed mild fertility treatment, three failed moderate fertility treatments, and a failed aggressive fertility treatment, I was no longer barren. That glorious little line meant I was going to be intimately involved in God’s creation of a miraculous little warrior that some of my doctors feared might not ever happen. I was pregnant! Happiness is seeing that second line! Happiness is realizing God is bigger than infertility! Happiness is waking up your husband to gaze at those two life changing lines!
Before I even made it back to the bed, not that I would be able to fall sleep, I was scheduling a confirmation blood test. And after one more positive pregnancy test, this time in a public restroom, they drew blood. The next day I got a call that made me crouch to the ground in tears of joy and awe. Right there in the elementary school hall way, I heard I was going to carry my child! Happiness is hearing the words “Are you sitting down? It happened! It finally happened! April, you are pregnant!” Happiness is calling your husband to tell him the home tests were accurate! Happiness is hugging your husband after he gets off of work overwhelmed by a gift so great, only God could create!
 

Happiness is...
...sharing our incredible news!
 

Happiness is...

...watching you grow!

 
Six Weeks
 
Twelve Weeks
 
Seventeen Weeks
 
Twenty Six Weeks
 
 
 
 
Happiness is...
...watching me grow,
and grow,
and Grow,
and GROW!
 
Just a few days Prior to Pregnancy
(From our "Adoption Maternity Shoot)
 
7 Weeks


15 Weeks

16 Weeks
(Auntie Mandi- 32 Weeks)

20 Weeks

24 Weeks

26 Weeks
(1st Mother's Day)
 
26 Weeks
 
29 Weeks
(My Baby Shower)

30 Weeks
 
32 Weeks
 

35 Weeks
(Auntie Denise- 6 Weeks)

(37 Weeks)

39 Weeks
(Auntie Denise- 10 Weeks)

Happiness is...
...hearing your heartbeat!
We saw the proof of a heartbeat on early ultrasounds, but hearing it was a whole other ball game! We were so blessed to have a friend lend us her Fetal Heart Doppler throughout the vast majority of my pregnancy. Not only did this amazing piece of modern technology bring me a tremendous amount of peace throughout my pregnancy, it allowed us to listen to your heartbeat for the very first time, in the comfort of our own home, at 10 weeks!
 

 
17 Weeks

26 Weeks
 
 
Happiness is...
...feeling you kick!
I think I started feeling you kick around week 14, but since this was my first pregnancy I wasn't 100% sure of it until week 20. Even though I had an anterior placenta, daddy was still able to feel you kick just a week later, at 21 weeks!
 
 


 
 
Happiness is...
...finding out we were having a daughter!
We were told very early on that even though gender is evident as early as 14 weeks, the policy was to do the gender identification scan at week 20. Oh boy, I did not like that plan! I was ready to jump in the car to get an ultrasound at the local ultrasound studio, but hesitated, as spending money on something that could be free seemed silly. Then I got the call to set up the appointment and they said they couldn't see me until I was 21 weeks along! I don't know what it was about that one extra week, but all my penny pinching tendencies went right out the window! We went the very next night to the local ultrasound studio! It was amazing! That moment was about our family, not simply fulfilling a diagnostic goal. We were able to just sit and watch you dance around. We were able to stay in awe of you and celebrate that we were having a daughter! I was entirely captivated by this reality! That ultrasound was worth EVERY SINGLE penny. With gender identification you also now had a name. There is something that takes over your soul in absolute affection when your baby has a name. I was having a daughter and her name was Little B!
 


 

 

Happiness is...
...getting a 4D sneak peak!
It is a tradition in our family that with every pregnancy GG & Frosty take the family to get a 4D sneak peak ultrasound! It is so amazing that this technology allowed us to see your tiny little features while you were still safely within my belly. On this special day, Mommy, Daddy, GG, Frosty, Oma, Opa, Uncle T.J., Auntie Denise, and Momma's BFF Alyssa all came to the local ultrasound studio to meet you! We even got to Skype mommy's grandparents in New York to watch you dance!
 
 









 
Happiness is...
...scheduling a maternity photo shoot!
As a photographer, maternity photo shoots were always one of my favorites to book. But due to our infertility journey, a maternity shoot for us started to feel just out of reach. During our adoption process we did choose to do an "adoption maternity shoot" which was incredibly fun and healing. But then you, our little warrior came into our lives! Because of you it was now my turn to model for these maternity pictures! I took a few with a local photographer for Mother's Day, and than had a full day out with GG, Frosty, and Daddy, where we all took pictures of each other. What an incredible way to document our excitement for your addition to our family!
 










 
Happiness is...
...being your mommy!
 
 

 



 Oh the joy!
So much joy and happiness!
What a blessing!
_____________________________________________________________

Ahhhhh I'm so in love! But, now on to another note. You might notice that I called this "Part 1." That is because I wanted to highlight the many many happy parts of my pregnancy as a way to celebrate today, since it was one year ago today I found out I was going to carry my child. However this story calls for a "Part 2" as there are unfortunately parts of even the most miraculous of pregnancies, that bring emotions other than pure happiness... morning sickness for example, lol. I will be writing a part to talk about the plethora of emotions I experienced, and a third part to talk about the epic baby shower my family threw for me. That said, I want to let you know that Little B is going to be meeting her Great-Grandparents from across the country this holiday season. In order to ensure she doesn't miss a single moment I will be cutting back just a bit on my posts for approximately the next month. I will attempt to still get one piece up a week, but I intend to play it by ear. Also keep an eye out for more of the Adoption 101 installments as there are still 3 more on their way!

As always thank you for following!
Love,
Little Momma, April Faith