Parenthood: Chapter 2

I have clocked in so many hours with babies in both my young and adult life, but none of it prepared me for a newborn.

I find myself fumbling in the dark, just looking for a wall to find comfort in. There have already been tears shed in the early hours of twilight due to shear exhaustion. I am not sure how much people stress the fact that a newborn wields the incredible ability to bring out the ugly in you.

Really fast.

From friends and strangers alike, I have heard the tales of sleepless nights and cranky babies. I was schooled on what parenthood would do to me physically, but not emotionally and psychologically. I have been curt on more than one occasion with Keith, felt the agitation rising in my chest whenever he needed my help to care for our son. I could get to that place so fast, I hardly had time to simmer before I said what was on my mind. 

But the scariest part has been the frustration waiting to erupt when I have hit my limit with our son. He's the worst boss we could ever get, Keith often jokes. It's true though. Always demanding, leaving us to guess what he actually wants, long hours, and most times without thanks. Disappearing into the background as he becomes the main priority and sometimes the only priority.

suddenly, i can't remember when i last brushed my teeth or took a shower or saw the sun. the days blur into one continuous loop and the house begins to feel like alcatraz. exhausted. half-starved. depleted. exploited. frustrated. abandoned. trapped. alone.

invisible.

black mother breast feeding

I am finding it easy to lose myself in motherhood, not that I am trying to or want to entirely. One day my son will find his identity apart from mine and the last thing I want to be asking myself is who am I? I am fighting to stay present, to stay connected with myself, to stay in control, but the only things I find surfacing in the two short months that we have been with our son are insecurity, selfishness, and a lack of patience, all wrapped in a warm blanket of guilt and anxiety.

I knew I would have to sacrifice, I just didn't know this much and this soon. Part of me naively wished that God would make it easier for us since it was so hard the first time. I guess he has, although I was hoping for something with training wheels.

baby crying

Losing myself to care for our son is far easier than losing our firstborn. The reminder stings and haunts me, but it is far better for my growth than the sweet honey my own selfishness tempts me with.

So I celebrate the poopy diapers, the spit ups, the moments where he is inconsolable, yet his tiny arms wrap around as much of me as he can manage because he needs me. Most days are rough. Most days I am not the best I can be for him.

But he still gives me a smile. 

 

photoography by Jesse Walsh 

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Recently, I had a meal train created for Keith and I to help us get through the first month of parenting, and one of the main pieces of advice I kept hearing from the mums bringing over meals was lactation cookies.

I wasn't having issues with my milk coming in (mine came in on day 2), but since deciding to exclusively pump, I thought it could be helpful. The only brand I was able to find was one sold at Target (really shocked Whole Foods didn't have anything) and each little bag was 2.50. I tried them. They were okay. The texture was the equivalent of Cookie Crisp cereal in my opinion. So I decided to see if I could make my own.

cookie batter
cookie dough

Technically, I could just eat a bowl of oatmeal with some flaxseed and call it a day, but where is the fun in that? Plus, I needed an excuse to use my KitchenAid mixer. Also, the secret ingredient to better milk supply is supposed to be the brewer's yeast, but if you don't have it or can't find it, oatmeal and flaxseed should still do it. you just won't have super powers like me.

oatmeal cocolate chip

I got the original recipe from here but made some modifications, which I have listed below. This isn't vegan, but you could easily replace the egg. Anyway, I refuse to keep you waiting.

Ingredients

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (or 2 cups rolled oats and 1 cup of steel cut oats for a little crunch)
1 1/2 cups oat flour (if you can't find this at your store, just throw 2 cups of rolled oats in a blender till fine)
5 tablespoons brewers yeast
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
4 tablespoons unrefined organic virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 cups organic coconut sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips/chunks

Directions

Preheat the oven the 350 degrees F.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, yeast, flaxseed, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt.
  2. Beat the butter and coconut oil on medium speed until creamy.
  3. Add in the sugar and beat on medium to high speed until fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  4. Add in the egg and egg yolk, beating until combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add in the vanilla extract and beat until combined again.
  6. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined and mixed.
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula until they are evenly dispersed.
  8. Scoop the dough into 1-inch rounds and place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart and slightly flatten with a fork.
  9. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the bottoms are just golden. Let cool completely before storing in a sealed container.

That's it. Less then ten steps! Do not over bake these! When you take them out, they should still be soft (they will get firmer once cooled so make sure the bottoms are light to medium golden). I have made two batches and made the mistake of leaving the second batch in for an extra minute and they wound up extra crunchy when they cooled.

Also a note on brewer's yeast. Make sure you get one with reduced bitterness or no bitterness. I did not  know there was a choice but thankfully  I did not make this mistake! Anyways, let me know what you think! 

 

Parenthood: chapter 1

even though the first few weeks are from being considered a blur, i still cannot believe it has almost been a month since we brought our son home. the pure bliss of having a baby at home was quickly replaced with exhaustion and frustration over not having things figured out.

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i had prepared myself for the difficult task of parenthood as best as i could, but quickly discovered that i was still unprepared for the moments where i would not be able to console my son through his discomforts. his steady cries during diaper changes, bouts of gas, or in the late hours were unnerving and overwhelming. i didn't think a baby could cry at such a high frequency. and i have worked with a lot of babies in my life.

there was definitely ptsd mingled with every crying experience with our son. every minute continued crying, keith and i wondered if his vitals were dropping. our only indicator of distress with isaac was monitors that told us his heart rate was low, or his blood pressure was dropping, or his temperature was down. we never heard him cry, just saw his limbs move as the monitors beeped and blared.

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bath time

but what was our son telling us through his grunts, whimpers, and screams? we had no manual, no on-call nurse or doctor to help us decipher his language, no screens to give us the numbers. I think that has been the hardest part about our transition into parenthood.

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still, despite the challenges that keith and i are facing and have faced already, my sleep deprived heart melts the moment his chubby hands and arms embrace me after his terrifying sessions of diaper changes or as he drifts off to sleep. the first time he gave me eye contact, or his gaze followed me across the room, I felt seeen by hims. swoon.

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i am learning to embrace the struggle, as dismal as it is, because in it exist these beautiful moments that remind me of the precious gift we have been given. I by no means am saying that every day is pretty. I take no pleasure in hearing him scream his head off in the car or during a diaper change. His cried rip me wide open, but he is coming to know his mama, reaching out for me when he is scared or uncomfortable and I have the opportunity and pleasure of responding to him with all of this pent up love that has been waiting to be released ever since we lost Isaac.

 

cuddle session
cuddle
naptime
bath time

Celebrating with Family

I am so happy you are here, my sister cried as she held our son in her arms. Safe and healthy. So many people have been waiting and praying for you.

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there was no hiding the eagerness on everyone's faces to hold this little human. Keith and I had decided early on that we would delay visitations (even from our family-minus my sister because she never got to meet Isaac) by a few days. We wanted to allow God to restore our hearts after having to share our time with Isaac with doctors and nurses and family.

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it was an experience that had made me somewhat resentful. I had felt my space being invaded and my precious moments with Isaac stolen away, but I felt powerless to say no. I did not want a repeat hence the delay.

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I will admit I still carried some of that baggage. The fear of having to share our son too much. But like my sister had mentioned, many people had been praying and waiting that within this little human, hope could be restored.

father
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the newest member

we had our top three girl names picked out. our boy name list, however, lacked meaning and connection with us. none of the names that we liked as first names paired well with other names. it was like laundered socks missing their other half. pointless.

while on our way to look at some sod 45 minutes from home, Keith expressed that he wanted to steer away from family names and wanted it to be a testament of our story. of where we have been and the way in which God had connected with us. 

valley. that's been our experience for the past year. but how had the lord ministered to us in the dark crevice of our grief? what did we find in the midst of this dismal existence? I liked the names Isaiah and jude--isaiah meaning praise and Jude meaning salvation. while these were true for us, it wasn't till the following morning that I woke up with "comfort" sticking close to my chest.

we found comfort while we were in the valley, i thought to myself. [air snaps]  yessss. [bobs head]

the name flowed so well together. the meaning flowed well together. it all brought smiles to our faces as we wondered why we didn't start here in the first place. rather than give him a name with a story he would feel the pressure to grow into, we gave him a name that would remind us of why he is such a gift to us. anyway, we would like you to meet our son,

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