Welcome to motherhood. Month six.

The list continues…

11.  You’ll need to come to terms with the fact that you may NEVER be on time ever again.  Six months in and I think Wes and I have been to church on time twice…maybe.  It doesn’t really matter how early we get up.  It could be 530 a.m. and we don’t need to leave for three hours and we’ll still be late.  I don’t really know how it happens.  Oh wait, I do.  The reason is now almost six months old.

12. Some days you still won’t believe that you’re parents.  Wes and I are still in awe of the little miracle that we created.  How can we be parents?  I mean, seriously.  This has got to be a joke, right?

13.  You may not be used to the reality that you’re a parent but other people will soon begin to pester with the inevitable question:  “when are you having more?”  Ummm, I am finally getting my head on straight, I do not intend on unscrewing it any time in the near future (oh, sweet baby Jesus, please hear me!).  The “pesterers” will be super happy when you create another baby so that they can poke fun at all of the precautions that you took with baby #1 and are no longer taking with baby #2.  They will laugh at you and tell you horrible stories about being dog tired from pregnancy and taking care of baby #1.  Well, some people will.  The ones who care about you will leave you to imagine the perfect scenarios where you’ll still be able to sleep when the baby sleeps… those are the people who you need to keep in your corner.

14.  You’ll still be tired.  Yep, even this far into the “game.”  You see, now you’re trying to decide on whether or not you should actually go to bed at night when the baby’s asleep or if you should have some quality time with your spouse.  Many times, the quality time will win but…

15.  You may sleep through the quality time.  It has nothing to do with how attractive you find your spouse it’s just that your precious baby is literally sucking the life out of you.  I kid you not… I’ve already lost one tooth.  Seriously.  But that’s a story for another day.

16.  While we’re talking about spouses… the two of you will bump heads more now than you ever have.  You see, being responsible for another life is taxing.  It’s taxing because you think so freaking much.  About EVERYTHING.  And once, you decide your opinion/philosophy on something, you’ll find that your spouse may not agree with you.  That’s where the bumping of heads occurs.  You’ll want them to do everything perfectly.  They’ll think you micromanage them.  It will be a problem.

There is nothing that you can do to prepare yourself for this phase except to practice the art of “fighting” fair.  Remember that your spouse loves you and your spouse loves baby.  They will not do anything to purposefully harm you.  They will not do anything to purposefully harm baby… even though, your neurosis may tell you otherwise.  Remember that you trusted them enough to marry them.  You trusted them enough to share your life with them.  You can trust them with your baby.  (I’m preaching to myself here, too.)

17.  It may still take some time for you to get used to your post baby body.  But go ahead and get accustomed to your new curves and what not.  LOVE YOURSELF.


18.  You’ll come to realize that to love yourself, you’ll need to invest time doing things you love.  This is NOT selfish.  You need to get some rest, read books, magazines, watch trashy t.v. shows to unwind.  You NEED to talk to your spouse and make arrangements for them to take care of baby so that you can do some yoga or go running or for a walk BY YOURSELF.   It’s important.  Chances are your spouse is just waiting to see how he can help you.

19.   And, on that note: Let. Your spouse. Help. You.

20.  By now, I’m sure you’ve realized that you’ve become that person who only talks about their baby.  That’s normal.  I mean, you’re in love as you SHOULD be!  Don’t feel ashamed to show the love.  I mean, I’m pretty sure that I am like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas:  “And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch Sam’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of Christmas grace came through, and the Grinch Sam found the strength of *ten* Sams, plus two!”

Click here for Welcome to Motherhood. Month nine.


I was wrong.

I’ll admit it.  I hate this. I hate being wrong.

I define myself based on what I do.  I get a joy or some sort of self satisfaction from saying that I am a teacher.  I am a runner.  I, I, I…  Nothing like quitting my career to give me a little perspective on this topic.  After these months of going to Laila Grace’s pediatrician appointments and filling out run of the mill paperwork with questions on it such as date of birth, first, middle and last names and… occupation.

Oh my.  What will I write down as my occupation now that I no longer have one?  I can’t write “none.”  Or can I?  I should write “none.”  But I have a job.  I’m a mama.  Being a mama is work.  Like 24/7/365 work.  But people don’t consider it to be much of a “job.”  I used to be one of those people who thought being a stay-at-home mama was a cake job.  I admit that I thought I’d have lots of time to do cool stuff  when I decided to stay home with Elle.  I mean, I thought I would be able to finish all of the half started arts and crafts projects that I have laying around.  I thought I’d be able to read all of the books on my shelf that I’ve yet to read.  I mean, I even reorganized my book shelf and separated the books that I’ve read from the books that I’ve yet to read.

I had grand plans for this precious time that I was supposed to dedicate to mothering my baby girl.  I didn’t think I did… but I did.  I wasn’t supposed to make plans…but I did.  I don’t know when I did… but I did.

I came across this article on Facebook entitled, “Why being a mom is enough.”  I wasn’t going to read it because I didn’t want to read an article by some lady who felt sorry for herself for choosing to be a stay-at-home mom and trying to validate her choice with a new fancy job title that basically means the same things as stay-at-home mom.  (I guess I was a little sensitive to this because I was really trying to think of a clever way to state that I am a stay-at-home mama when I filled out that paperwork asking my occupation… you know… so I could feel worthwhile.)

But as I read the article, it struck a chord with me:

There is no supermom, really – that whole supermom who has everything together is just a fallacy. There are real moms. Real, authentic moms who admit that they don’t have it all together but keep on fighting. Scared and tired moms who keep fighting. Moms who are overwhelmed by keeping up with littles all day long. Moms like you and me who sometimes feel lost in a world of outward accomplishments.

A mother isn’t based on external perfection. A mother is the person, the woman, just like you. The woman with little ones in her care that she loves, and sometimes wonders how she loves them because they’re driving her batty, but still she does. She fights, gives, prays, works, and doesn’t give up even when she wants to throw in the towel.


This article was nothing like I imagined it would be.  I came at it from a judgmental perspective (I seem to become more judge-y when I feel less confident).  This woman said something that I needed to hear.  She wasn’t trying to make herself feel better than anyone else but she was trying to convey a point that mothers matter.  All of us.  From the mama who works outside the home only to come home from work to take care of household duties to the mama who stays at home taking care of her littles.  We all matter.

My mother in law asked me why don’t I join one of those mother and baby groups that are held at churches.  I answered her candidly.  To be honest, I don’t want to be surrounded by a whole bunch of Christian first time moms.  If there’s one place where I’ll judge and (possibly) be judged it’s in a room full of Christian moms.  It’s sad to say but I think it’s true.  Women can be kind of judgmental.  Why?  I think that it may be because at the end of the day, we just want to feel like we’re doing better than someone…anyone.  Even if that someone is a woman in our same predicament fighting the same feelings of inadequacy.  It’s sad.  I can only speak for myself so I’m surmising but why else do phrases like, “hey, it could be worse” make me feel just a tad bit better about my own situation???

Here’s the thing: Our journeys are different but there is a common thread: many of us don’t feel adequate.  Many of us don’t feel confident.  Many of us judge for no good reason (is there ever a good reason?).  So, another thing that motherhood has taught me in the now thirteen weeks that I’ve been doing this is that, if nothing  else, motherhood is an opportunity to understand life from a perspective of grace.

Motherhood is an opportunity to understand life from a perspective of grace.

So, I was wrong.  I am not defined by what I do.  I am defined by the way I think about what I do, by the way I give grace to others and to myself.



Grace personified: {Laila Grace’s birth story}.

Sometimes, God doesn’t give us what we want; He gives us what we need.  This statement is true for me with the birth of Laila Grace.  I wanted it to be easy but what I needed was to learn how to go with the flow.

What’s funny is that a month ago, I would have considered a birth story like mine to be terribly traumatic.  Sitting here, writing it out and thinking through everything that happened, I can only view my birth story as beautiful.  It is a sweet testament of God’s faithfulness to walk me through uncharted territory.  He took care of me.  And, Laila, well she’s teaching me about Grace.

{Journal entry from 10.9.2014- the day that I would go into labor with Laila Grace}


You’re due to arrive tomorrow and everyone is so excited about it!  Namely Daddy and me.  We can’t wait to kiss your cheeks, to study your little hands and your baby feet.  We can’t wait to snuggle you and get to know your personality.  You see, you’re the answer to our secret prayers.  You’re a way that God is showing His love and His provision.  You are our gift.

I’ve been waking up much earlier than normal every day this week.  Today and Tuesday “earlier than normal” has meant that I awaken at 3 a.m.  I’m not sure why.  The only reason I can think of is that I’m excited to meet you.

I went to an appointment at the Birth Center yesterday and I heard your heartbeat.  Hearing that blows me away every single time.  Why?  Because- besides your constant movement in Mama’s belly- your heartbeat is a sure sign of life.  I LOVE THAT.

I’ve probably already written this but I feel that I must confess: I don’t feel qualified to be your mommy.  I am still struggling with selfishness.  I still struggle with keeping my words and my attitude in check.  I’m not even nearly as perfect as I want to be but I guess that just goes to show that God sometimes tells us to “go” before we think we’re ready… or, rather, before we feel we’re ready.

You are my step of faith.

I am praying that I don’t let you down.  So, come when you’re ready but just know that we’re ready to meet you now.  It’ll be exciting to see which birthday you choose and which gender you are and which attributes you get from Daddy and which attributes you get from Mommy.  BB, I love you so much.  Thank you for the honor of choosing Daddy and me to be your parents.



Step of Faith

I’ve heard people compare birth to running a race.  For the record, my birth experience with Laila Grace was not at all like running a half marathon… or maybe it was.  My sis in law said it best.  She said that my birth was like running but without the runner’s high that comes as the reward at the end.

10:58 a.m. My water breaks.  It is at this time that I remember that I never quite finished packing the overnight bag.  I kept saying that I was going to do it but I never actually finished the job.  I guess now was good a time as any.  I kept forgetting what I needed and then water would drip all over the floor every time I moved.  I decided to get a towel to drag behind me as I walked through the house like a chicken with its head cut off.

They say I was pretty calm.  I know that I tried really hard to be calm.  I was freaking out on the inside, though.  I originally thought that I would have the baby on Tuesday.  I just had a feeling.  Tuesday came and went without any signs of baby’s arrival.  I also had a “feeling” that baby was going to be a boy…I was wrong about that, too.

Every once in a while, one of the tightenings (the word I used for ‘contraction’) would hurt and then I would pray and remind myself that giving birth did not have to hurt.  That I am free from the curse of pain in childbirth.  The pain would subside when I confessed these things.  I liked that.

I called Wes, Dawn and my doula, Jenn.  At my doula’s suggestion, I also called the Birth Center.  I was told to come down to the BC for a non stress test to make sure that I was actually in labor.  I was in labor.

I was so hungry.  I mean, my water broke at my (almost) lunch time.  Wes arrived home and made sure that I was okay.  He helped me finish packing, took the stuff to the car, gave me a kiss and off we went.  But, I was hungry.  There was no way that I would have the strength to give birth to my baby on an empty stomach.  We stopped at Carl’s Jr. I kind of regret the choice of food because it would be disgusting when it came back up a couple of hours later.

2:30 p.m. My favorite midwife and my favorite nurse are the ones who will be attending the birth because I am in active labor.  The midwife directs us to the stairs outside to walk around through my tightenings.

“The contractions are every two to three minutes,”  Wes says.  You know that numbers are his thing.  The two- three minutes is good news because had the contractions not been that close together then I would have needed to go to the hospital.  When the tightenings came upon me, I would sometimes tense up and sometimes (at the prodding of my doula and Dawn) I would remember to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth.  Giving birth is a lot like practicing yoga with all of the deep breathing.  I didn’t practice or intend to use any sort of breathing method the breathing just seemed like a natural thing to do.

{Three hours of labor}  Four centimeters dilated and I really just want to take a nap.  This has been going on since the morning.  And I’m tired.  It’s the 4 o’clock slump except I can’t slump: I’M ABOUT TO HAVE MY BABY!!!

Wes, Dawn and I are directed to go walk the stairs.  Let me tell you that it was very hard to walk up the stairs!  The midwife wanted me to continue to walk during the tightenings.  Mind over matter.  Mind over matter.

It turns out the Laila was in occiput posterior position which means that the back of her head was against my back. Which would explain what happens later… The walking up the stairs was an attempt to get her to change her position so that she could make her appearance into the world.  I think she was being a little stubborn…I wonder which parent she gets that trait from?

{Four and a half hours} I wasn’t sure if I wanted to give birth in the water but I brought clothes that I could use to wear in the water should I choose to do so.  I decided to get in.  The water was marvelous.   The warmth enveloped my entire body.  I could float.  When I needed to, I could brace my feet against the edge of the table to take off some of the impact of the tightenings.  It was relaxing.  I felt so calm. Imagine wrapping your whole body in a heating pad that never ever got out of place no matter which way you moved.  That’s how it felt.  The tub wasn’t at all weird.  I thought it was going to be weird.

But it started to get kind of hot in there.  My doula and Dawn placed cold towels on my forehead and gave me ice chips.  Perfect.

Things got more intense when I was in the tub.  Not sure why.  I guess it’s just because the labor was progressing.  Wes came back into the room and I could. hear. him. breathing.  It drove me crazy.

“Get out,”  I said to Wes.  Pretty sternly, I guess.

Wes, being the guy that he is, moved in closer instead.  I had a towel over my eyes so that I didn’t have to watch everyone watching me give birth.  I heard him move but it didn’t sound like he left.  I lifted up the towel, looked him straight in the eye and repeated my directions, “Get out.”  And out he went.


The midwife in training was sitting right beside the tub.  She kept clicking her pen.  Click. Click. Click. Click.  The sound was so irritating.  My aversion to that sound was not just a phenomenon of birth but a persistent pet peeve.  I remembered something that my mom told me: I could fire her if I wanted to.  And fire her I did.

I prayed a lot while in the tub. “Dude.  This is not what I was expecting.”  I remember praying this one specifically because I was shocked by how different the birth was as compared to my expectations.  I was expecting rainbows.  Double rainbows!  I wanted unicorns.  This was primal.  This was super intense.  This was…hard.


{Eight and a half hours}  By this time, I have gotten out of the tub (with Wes’ help).  He came in to check on me or something.  I don’t really remember but I do remember that I needed him to get me out of the tub.  He’s strong.  I continued to labor by walking around (which was getting increasingly difficult to do).  The pain was in my back.  Yes.. PAIN.  It felt like when I had Valley Fever eating away at my spine and I was in constant pain.  It was like fierce, unquenchable achiness that could not be contained.  Not in my power.  Then Jenn, my doula, had the idea to use a scarf and tie it around my mid section.  When the pain would come, she, Dawn and/or Wes would pull on either side of the scarf to apply counter pressure.

The thing is that the counter pressure, while it relieved the back pain, seemed to make the contractions come on stronger.


{Twelve hours}  Yes.  It’s freaking morning…again.  The midwife checks to see how much I’ve dilated or progressed and the check, as usual, is both uncomfortable and painful and it makes the contraction come on again.  They would always wait until I was in a break in the contraction to check me even though the checking made me have a contraction.  I don’t really understand it but I’m sure there’s a method to the madness.  Maybe I asked the midwife to wait.  I don’t remember.

The midwife checks me and I’m still at 7 cm.  Not only that but there appears to be meconium in my fluid.  According to Medline Plus, meconium is the first stool that the baby releases.  This can sometimes be released into the fluid inside of the mother when births go past term or when the baby is under stress because the supply of oxygen and blood decreases.  I wasn’t past term.  As a matter of fact, now that it was morning again, I was actually laboring on my due date.  How cool is that?!

The meconium put the baby at even more risk than the long labor which more than likely caused the meconium to be released in the first place.  I need to transfer to the hospital.  The midwife looks me in the eye and says, “Sam, I know you don’t like to be told what to do but I really think you should get an epidural.”  I comply.  And, frankly, I was relieved that she suggested it.  I was going to receive relief soon.  If I was going to be in labor until kingdom come at least I would have some relief!

This was not my original “plan.”  Remember when I said that I wanted unicorns and double rainbows?  That wasn’t hyperbole.  During my entire pregnancy I tried to shield my ears from the terrible birth stories of people around me.  And, you know how willing women are to share their traumatic experiences when they see a pregnant woman as if said woman doesn’t have enough things on her mind.  I think I wrote about that before.  It’s a pet peeve.  It still is.

{Thirteen hours} We arrive at the hospital and are quickly admitted.  It felt like forever to me but, apparently, nurses were working at a record pace to get me in the system.   I’m so glad that the Birth Center had us go on a tour to the hospital!  I was admitted to the room that we saw during the tour.  That made me feel more comfortable.

The anesthesiologist had some issues with the epidural.  In fact, after two attempts, she was unable to place it.  Like seriously.  So, I had to wait…until 7 a.m. when the anesthesiologists changed shifts.  I had to wait through more intense contractions that seemed to have an even shorter break in between.  I think they said that the contractions were 180 seconds (sometimes longer) with 60 seconds in between and then they started to “even out” to 60 seconds with 120 seconds in between.  It felt more like 10 seconds in between but I guess I can’t argue.  I mean, they had me hooked up to a lot of high tech machines that knew what was going on inside of my body much more than I did.  Plus, I was sleep deprived.

The second anesthesiologist administered the epidural and still it takes two tries but he gets it on the second attempt.  I’m so grateful to him.  I needed the reprieve.  By 7 a.m., I had been in labor for 17 hours.  I never in a million years would have thought that I’d be one of those people with those terrible birth stories of having been in labor for days and days and days, yet, here I am.

{Twenty one hours}  The midwife comes in and checks me.  I don’t care this time because I won’t be able to feel it.  I also no longer care who sees me naked or half naked.  Birth has already changed me and I haven’t even finished the process yet.  Giving birth is freeing.

{Twenty two hours}  A doctor who works with the midwives at the Birth Center comes in to check me.  He says that I am 6-7 cm dilated.  So, basically, there hasn’t been a change in dilation since the previous day.  Even with the subjectiveness of the measurements, something needed to be done.  Pitocin is administered to try to “get things moving along.”


{Twenty four hours}  The doctor and midwife come back to check me for what turns out to be the last time.  Even after the pitocin, there hasn’t been any change.  There is no way that Laila Grace will be born naturally.

After a little bit of discussion, we all decide that the best way for Laila Grace to enter the world will be via Caesarean section.  Wes was so curious during the C-section.  He actually stood up and watched the whole procedure (minus the initial incision).  He saw everything.  I was awake and could hear everything but I couldn’t see anything because of the curtain that they put up.  Kind of a big deal since Mr. Beard gets queasy with blood and such.

WesAndSamNICU WesNICUMamaAndLaila


On October 10 at 2:57 p.m., Wes and I were able to meet our remarkably strong, beautiful, lanky little girl: Laila Grace.



{The adventure continues…}

Because of the extremely stressful labor, my positive Group B Strep test and the meconium that Laila Grace excreted into the waters, Baby Girl was admitted to NICU to get treatments of oxygen, antibiotics and for surveillance.  We were able to see her and touch her but this whole thing added a lot more stress to the birth situation. We prayed lots of prayers.  I cried lots of tears.  Both tears of joy and of tears of fear.LailainNICU

Every two-three hours, I went to NICU to visit Laila Grace.  Wes and I would sing to her, hold her, pray for her and have skin to skin time with our girl.  I didn’t have a good night of sleep until Sunday (October 12).  That’s when Laila was released from NICU.  Her blood sugars were finally stable and she no longer needed the oxygen treatment.  The skin to skin time did the trick…and the prayers, of course.

Another astonishing thing happened.  The nurses were concerned that Laila wasn’t eating and therefore wouldn’t be able to leave NICU.  One of the head nurses told me that they wanted to give my girl formula.  I refused.  Thinking quick on my feet, I asked about getting donated breast milk if Laila needed it.  The nurse didn’t really like my suggestion but she accepted it.  She had to.  I was the one in charge.  One of the lovely mamas from a breastfeeding group I found on Facebook, offered to give me milk for Laila.  We didn’t end up needing the milk but I was blown away by the generosity of strangers.  Everything came into place.

So, basically, things for Laila’s birth were most certainly not in my control.  I CAN say that it was what I needed.  Why?  Because I needed to learn to go with the flow so that I can be content in this phase of my life.  This phase where I am not doing the thing I planned on doing (teaching) but am doing the thing I never in my wildest dreams thought I could or would be capable of doing (parenting).  It’s easy to become dissatisfied with things going on in life when I feel out of control.  But I’m not in control and I never have been.  All of my steps have been ordered by Someone greater than me.  He knew what I needed.  He knew my capabilities and He still called me to do this… now… for Laila Grace.

Wes came across this a very interesting post on the meaning of our girl’s name.  It stated that, “Lailah represents strength where there is darkness.”   And, one of my sister friends sent me this text:


My girl has got a big mission from God.  A task that only she can complete.  She is the instrument through which God will help me learn to let go and go with the flow.  I will also learn about grace.  God’s grace.  To both accept it and to give it freely.  I’m glad I didn’t get the unicorns and double rainbows.  I got something much better: Grace personified.





*I used the notes from my doula, Jennifer Bultman, to outline the birth story.  If you’re interested in hiring a doula, consider contacting the doula I used: http://www.lightandlovedoula.wordpress.com.  To find a doula in your area, try http://www.doulamatch.net