Monday, March 30, 2009

It Happens

Well, it didn't quite hit the fan....but it was pretty much everywhere else.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Perfect Figure

We were wandering through the Blanton museum as a respite from the humidity of July in Austin. Some of our party were enthralled by the post-modern art (a piece involving a sea of pennies, hanging cow bones, and a tower of communion wafers was causing quite a stir), but Deborah and I quietly found the floor exhibiting plaster castes of Rennaisance-era statuary. They were beautiful, nudes of women lounging lazily, curls framing their temples, hands discretely covering where their legs were lightly crossed. They made me feel as relaxed as they were. Deborah said she wonders when they stopped being the ideal of womanly beauty. I stop and stare again, this time comparing them to the women who are idolized today. The statue women have full hips and thighs, dimples just above their buttocks, a slight roundness below their navals. Their arms are full, their breasts are full, even their faces are full. They are fifty to one hundred pounds heavier than the ideal American beauty today. Her descriptive words are so different from the soft, round words my mind had been conjuring for the statue. The American beauty favors words like "flat," "tight," and "thin." Strange how unfulfilling it sounds when you strip it down to just the words.

Yesterday, as I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, tugging a pair of Spanx on over my substantial figure, I thought back to that day at the museum. At the Blanton, I was a thin woman admiring a statue of a rounder woman. I was flat, tight. She was full, soft. Now I am a more, well, maternally shaped woman. Can I admire my figure as I admired hers? Will I fall into the trap, the obsession with "getting back" to my former shape? Or will I move forward, into the beauty of a body that can nurture with its curves and its softness?

Please understand: I am not talking about "letting it go." I want to give my son the gift of a mama who is healthy, who will live long and share his life's joys and sorrows. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and feel confident and secure in my own beauty. What I'm hoping to achieve is a balance between the stick figure woman and the curvy Rennaissance woman. D'Linn once said, "Stop lamenting that you don't look like a sixteen-year-old anymore. You are not sixteen. And it's okay to have the body of a woman instead of the body of a child." The body of a woman...what a beautiful thing. It can grow and nurture life. I have fuller thighs and hips than I used to (and, yes, stretchmarks to boot!), much fuller breasts than I ever imagined possible, and a little bit of fluff around my once toned midsection. When my baby boy searches for a comfortable place to lay his downy head, I know he can find it in my body. When he is hungry, I can feed him from that same body. In short, I have a perfect figure.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Four

The year my husband was born, each of his father's brothers also had a child. These four cousins, born in the same year, have always shared a special bond. They call themselves "The Four" and I have always been so impressed at how close they feel even though they rarely see one another. The times they can all be together are always fun and special.

Well, this year looks like another year of four! There are four babies being born on my husband's side of the family this year. They will not all four be first cousins, but we just found out they will all be BOYS!!! It is a full sweep! Beth and I had our boys just over a month ago and Kristen had hers TODAY--welcome to the family, Caden Andrew! Heather should be having hers in a matter of days too. I don't know when we'll be able to get these special four boys together (since they are in Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, and New Zealand!), but I know it will be special and fun when we do and I pray they will always have a connection with each other.

Congratulations, Kristen and Elijah!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I remember vividly the first time I felt what I call "motherguilt." I was meeting some new people for the first time, drinking a Dr. Pepper from a bottle, and (as I had already informed them of my pregnancy) getting a few pretty dirty looks. One of the ladies began to lecture me on the dangers of caffeine and carbonation in pregnancy. I had already discussed this with my doctor. He told me it was fine to have one a day or even a couple a day every now and again. But it was still hard not to feel like an immediate failure as a mom even though Benjamin was only about an inch long at the time. I went home that day and reminded myself of my balanced diet, my regular intake of water, my doctor's permission, and my need to occasionally have caffeine to help me through the work day while experiencing first-trimester fatigue. Then I decided to let go of the guilt and substitute it with humor and a relaxation of the rigidity.

I remember the first time I realized I had succeeded in banishing the motherguilt. I was chatting on the phone with a pregnant friend and eating the last piece of apple pie directly from the tin with a fork. She said, "I just don't understand these pregnant women who just eat whatever they want and stop excercising alltogether. Then they wonder why they gain extra weight and look bad!" At that point I couldn't actually remember the last time my feet hit the health club floor, but I answered, "I know! I totally agree with you." When I hung up later I confessed to Jon and laughed at the irony of my eating pie at that moment. I didn't feel guilty at all.

I remember the night the motherguilt came back. I was in the hospital, where I was sure I would blissfully "room-in" with my baby and fight the nurses any time they tried to take him from me (even for pediatrician rounds). But I was so tired. And I couldn't sleep with him in the room because I just kept staring at him, wondering if he was breathing. Finally, realizing that there was a nursery full of professionals who would be awake all night, I called the nurse (in tears) and asked her to take my one-day-old baby to the nursery until his next feeding time. What a terrible mother--I couldn't even live in the same room with my baby for one night.

Now I am learning to banish it again--to relax the rules in the realization that Benjamin has not only survived for five weeks, but he has gained weight and nursed wonderfully and focussed on his books and played in his tummy time and done a dozen other things just right, despite some slips on my part. I still drink Dr. Pepper (sometimes even before a nursing session!). I have occasionally gone a day without reading to him and occasionally gone a day without singing to him. Some days he has had no tummy time. Some days I have failed to give him a bath even though I knew he had peed on himself several times (I just used a wipey!). I have forgotten to eat breakfast many mornings and I have given him way too many pumped bottles rather than whip out my breast in front of visitors. And right now, instead of sleeping while he sleeps, I am blogging while enjoying half a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

I decided that I am a better mom for Benjamin when I am a relaxed mom. I am not going to pressure myself to be perfect. Rather, I am going to be imperfect with a sense of humor and ask God for the grace to actually enjoy motherhood as I enjoyed pregnancy. I'm glad I got that off my chest--you can judge me now, if you want.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


"Men go abroad to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering." Saint Augustine

God has blessed me with so many gifts in the past year that I can hardly name them. But one of the most unexpected and great gifts is the gift of wonder. This, I think, is a singular gift of pregnancy and of motherhood. You cannot pass by yourself without wonder at God's design. Many things are undignified and fatiguing about pregnancy and you need humor and grace to persevere, but I never felt more beautiful in my life than I did in the 39 weeks I was a vessel for Benjamin's life. And though I feared that I would be ill-prepared for motherhood (having hardly any experience with newborns and a great deal of trepidation where they are concerned), God gave me what I needed when I wasn't looking. After only a few days I felt like I'd been holding and nursing this baby all my life. (Of course, another wonderful gift is the gift of my own mother who stayed with us and slaved for us, taking care of all three of us while we learned.) Now he is a month old and I can hardly remember life without him. We have had the great joy of sharing this stage of our lives with some of our dear friends and family and have enjoyed praying for their babies when we prayed for our own. Now my best friend is expecting her own little one and as I pray for her tonight, I pray not only for health and strength and lots of energy, but for a sense of wonder. And I pray that God will give me the grace to remember in days (and nights) that just fly by that He created my inmost being, knit me together in my mother's womb, and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And as if that wasn't enough, he created Benjamin Cole's inmost being, knit him together in MY womb, and Benjamin is obviously fearfully and wonderfully made.
Thanks be to God for the safe and healthy deliveries of these babies in 2009:
Adilyn Mae, Loralei Honor, Coy Scott, Benjamin Cole, Jackson Alexander, and Elijah James!
And God bless their mothers with grace and wonder:
Monica, Amie, Ashly, ME, Bethany, and Joy!
And God protect and bless the little ones still within their mothers' wombs this year:
Baby Peters, Baby Boy Sandifer, London Andrew, and Baby Shirley!
What a wonder-full year!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009


I just told Jon that I was "going to bottle duty," which threw us into a fit of hysterics because it sounded like I was going to "bottle doodie." We get duties and doodies mixed up quite a bit now that we have an increase in both in our home!