May 7, 2014

Dear Maxwell // Three Months

My sweet boy, 
You are more than I could ever imagine. I'm the happiest I've ever been in my whole life and every day I grow to love you more. You are such a good baby. You smile and babble in the mornings. You have learned to grab your toes. You radiate happiness. 

Your Dad left for his deployment when you were two months old, every morning he asks for a picture of you. We get to see him again in two days! He isn't going to believe how much you've grown and how well you can interact now. Boy does he love you. He cannot get enough photos and videos of you throughout the day. You make him so proud. The other night we were all Facetiming with Dad and I had the screen so you could see him. Maxwell, you couldn't stop smiling at the screen and every time you heard his voice you would coo and squeal. It was all I could do not to cry it made my heart swell. You two already have such an amazing bond. 
We love you so much,

**Other observations // You love holding your hands, it's as if you are praying. You've started to pay attention when I read you books. I left you with strangers (YMCA daycare) for the first time, it was tough, but so liberating. You don't want to be held like a baby anymore, you want to sit up or stand at all times. You are still in LOVE with that carseat, glad I didn't invest in a fancy baby seat for the house. You laugh and giggle lots now, it makes me feel like last months smiles were just a tease.**

May 6, 2014

Dear Maxwell // Two Months

**These are a little behind in posting, but I have been writing them on schedule**

Dear Maxwell,

We survived the first full month without your Dad. It was an emotional one, but somehow we held it together and I would even say thrived. How can I feel sorry for myself when you greet me each morning with that gummy smile? The smiles came about a week after Dad left, which have been so much fun to send to him. We FaceTime with Dad and you just stare at the phone's glow. You like hearing his voice and you kick your little legs fast when you hear it. 

Momma started working out at the house and you have to be in the same room. You enjoy watching me look silly and I will say it's not the same when you sleep through a workout. You've got your fussy times, about dinnertime to bedtime. Sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed when dinner is burning on the stove and you are screaming, but usually I can get you to settle down. You have been spending lots of time with your grandparents, they love you so much. It's so hard to imagine doing this without them so close. 

You've really started to focus on things and hold your head up. You can turn it from right to left and not need much assistance or support. We run LOTS of errands with you in the Ergo carrier. You fall asleep almost instantly, I can even vacuum with it on and you don't mind. You are sleeping through the night still and it's the best gift you could have ever given me. I feel human again and like I may survive this year without your Dad here. 

You love to be talked to. A big smile creeps across your face when you hear your name, Momma, Dad, hey baby, I love you and hello. I cannot wait to hear those words come out of your mouth one day, I will just melt. We also are very into music in the car, currently we have a CD given to us by some good friends. The car is and your carseat are two of your favorite places. You could probably sleep in your carseat all night if I let you. 

Oh you bring me and your Dad so much joy Max, we love you!

March 28, 2014

Thoughts on Being a Momma

When you announce you're expecting, people shower you with congratulations and excitement. You spend the next several months hearing how becoming a mother will change your life, that nothing compares to being a mom. You hear these things, but you actually can't comprehend how motherhood will actually feel.

I still remember those last few moments before Maxwell arrived and I kept thinking, 'I'm not ready!' and was a little panicked. The moment I heard his cry I felt this outer body experience and I knew he was mine. I felt immediate pride for that scream and when they laid him on my chest I fell in love. I have known love all my life, but this was something different. The man I fell in love with and I created this little tiny person, and there is just no way to explain how that makes you feel.

The first few days in the hospital felt like a honeymoon of sorts. I was still on painkillers and there were nurses to help us. I kinda felt like this wasn't going to be as bad as everyone makes those first few weeks out to be. The day we got home, I came to a different conclusion. There you are, sleep deprived, exhausted, emotionally overwhelmed and holding a baby. I knew I really wanted to nurse Max for as long as I could. Nursing a baby is no joke. Those first few weeks every feeding I would feel the energy being drained out of me. Rob would have to make sure I didn't fall asleep while nursing, it was so hard. Then by the time I would finish nursing, we might have two solid hours to sleep, eat, shower and regroup before the process started over again.

I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel until week five. And by week six I felt almost back to normal. Maxwell took every ounce of energy we had and somehow your body allows you to function when it probably should be giving up. It's honestly beautiful. I don't miss those first few weeks, but I think they are hard for a reason, it's like an emergency brake. You get reprogrammed to do whatever it takes to keep this little begin alive and you learn to put your own needs aside for awhile.

Maxwell is amazing. I could watch him for hours and sometimes I do. I love being a mom more than I ever thought. During my pregnancy I couldn't wait to have him so I could get back to doing my pre-pregnancy routines. As Maxwell becomes more of a baby and less of a newborn, I find myself already wanting to do this all over again. I told Rob the other night that for the first time in my life I feel like I'm a natural at something. I understand how women make this their only job. I'm enjoying every day with Max and realizing it all goes by so fast. I cry every time he out grows a piece of clothing and yet I'm so excited when learns something new. This motherhood thing is a roller coaster of emotions and I am so grateful to be on this ride.

March 18, 2014

Dear Maxwell // One Month

Dear Maxwell,

Oh how you've changed! Actually, around 4 weeks I started to feel a bit more myself and we got out of the house more often. You took your first bottle from your Dad. It was such a special moment and it made me realize how much I enjoy breastfeeding. You experienced your first snow! We bundled you up and took you out in the most magical of snowfalls and you promptly fell asleep. You work your little tongue often as if you can taste the air around you. We really gave into the whole pacifier deal and I am so glad, no regrets. You sleep so much better and can soothe yourself now. The faces! The faces you are capable of making can either make my heart melt or break. The bottom lip starts sticking out and it kills me. These days you love looking up at lights, you stare at them till you fall asleep.

It was a big month for milestones, your first plane ride to Charleston and your Christening. You slept right through both and we were so proud of you. Speaking of sleeping, you began sleeping through the night at 8 weeks and we couldn't believe it.You also learned a new trick, which we call your exercises. You push off whatever surface we have you hovering over and then squat down, over and over until you tire yourself out. You seem very pleased with yourself. Still no true smiles, but we think you are about to start. You are completely mesmerized by your Dad. You give him the best faces and stare at him until your eyes get too heavy and you doze off. I am so happy you were able to have more time together before he deployed.

You've gotten chunky and can hold your head up by yourself. At your 2 month checkup you weight 9.5 lbs! You've grown out of a few newborn onsies, and your Momma might have shed a few tears because it's all going by too quickly. I want to bottle up these 'firsts' and relive them forever. I get so excited when you learn something new and I'm genuinely proud, it's the best feeling. It makes me so excited for your first steps, your first words and so much more.

I am so grateful to be your Momma and even more grateful to have you as a bright spot in my days without your Dad here.

Lots of love,

March 12, 2014

What The Heck Is Eating Clean?

On the 23rd of February I began eating clean. What is eating clean?

I first came across this concept through an instagram account called eating_whole. I love how simple Lauren's meals were and the results she was getting. I knew I wanted to do something to help get this baby weight off and this seemed like a great approach.

The first week I was really surprised by the lack of cravings I had for bad things. I only drank water and had three meals w/ one snack a day. I took a grocery list from Lauren's account and bought everything I thought I would like. I learned what worked and what didn't. I kept track of my calories, but wasn't restricting them. I wanted to see which days I felt more full and had the most energy, which for me was between 1,450 - 1,550 calories (I am still breastfeeding). 

Week 1 I lost 2.5 lbs and felt amazing. Week 2 I lost another 2.5 lbs and still feel great. I am still surprised at the lack of cravings for bad food I've had. During my pregnancy I basically wanted anything but healthy food. My skin has never been more clear. I've tried every over the counter acne product out there and would still get spots on my neck, I haven't seen my skin look this good EVER. 

To date this was my favorite snack she has posted! 

I sliced a sweet potato super thin, tossed the slices in a tiny bit of coconut oil, placed them flat on a baking sheet and sprinkled with chili powder, paprika, and garlic. Baked in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes until they became chips. The dip is 1 mashed avocado mixed with a big spoonful of Fage plain Greek yogurt, 1 diced tomato, a squeeze of lime, a drizzle of honey, a dash of garlic. - Lauren of Eating Whole
I've also restricted my dairy intake as it upsets little man's stomach, but I think I've made the switch to Almond Milk for good. I highly encourage you to check out Lauren's account and blog if you are interested in eating clean or just trying to eat more healthy. 

I will keep you updated on my progress, I plan to go a full 6 weeks. 

March 11, 2014

Dear Maxwell // Newborn

Dear Maxwell,

You came four weeks earlier than expected and it couldn't have been better timing. You gave your Dad four extra weeks with you and you gave all our out of state family a friends a chance to meet you without an extra visit. From the beginning you were beautifully handsome. You love sleeping with your hands clasped together and you are an excellent sleeper. You want to be fed about every 2 hours, sometimes sooner. Life with you has been better than I could ever imagine, one moment it was just your Dad and me, and now it's the three of us. We keep looking at each other and smiling because you are ours, and you are finally here.

How much you've changed in four and half short weeks. You were so tiny when we brought you home from the hospital at almost 6 lbs. And now you've grown to almost 8.5 lbs! Your little legs are starting to get chunkier and so are your cheeks. You love being swaddled, especially if it's been done by your Dad. He can make you stop crying so easily, you are very attached to him. Currently, you sleep in our room in a bassinet. You love being held or getting to sleep in the big bed with us. When you aren't swaddled you like to flail your arms and kick your feet. It's pretty adorable. Occasionally, you fall asleep with your hands up in the air, and most of the time you have very serious looks on your face. I think you are going to be quite the observer.

We love you so much little man and can't wait to watch you grow.


**letter idea from my favorite blogger Elise**

March 10, 2014

Rob's Deployment Ceremony

A little over two weeks ago we sent Rob off for his first deployment. Rob flies helicopters for the Alabama National Guard and they are being deployed for about a year. The unit put together an amazing send off weekend that was both emotional and impressive.

Our families gathered Saturday afternoon and drove Rob to the unit in our town. They had a formal ceremony where several Majors spoke about their bravery and the difficult tasks ahead of them. Surprisingly, I made it through the whole entire day without tears, although singing the National Anthem almost got me.

After the ceremony, we walked around the hanger and explored inside one of the Chinook helicopters. Everyone in his unit was able to meet Maxwell and he was passed around quite a bit. That evening we all went out to dinner at a very special restaurant to both families. Rob said his goodbye's to my family and we went home for our last night in our home together until 2015.

The next morning we drove out to the hanger where they would fly out from. Both of our parents were there and we all just stood around the helicopter Rob would be flying that day. The guys had a quick pow-wow and then were told they needed to be in their helicopters. That's when it got hard. Watching Rob say goodbye to his Mom and Dad, my mom and then Max. It broke my heart to think about everything he will miss seeing first person. We hugged goodbye and then the families had to walk back towards the hanger for them to take off.

I had never seen Rob start up his helicopter or take off, so I was pretty impressed with the rest of the send off. It took about 20 minutes of them checking things off and starting up their blades. Then one by one the helicopters went off and then we realized they were coming back for a fly over. I couldn't stop smiling as they flew over. As sad as I am that 70 men will be away from their families for a year, I'm proud to know there are men and families that are willing to sacrifice for our freedom. I've never understood that sacrifice until now and on days I'm having a hard time I think about how proud I am of my husband and all the men in the armed forces.

Rob will be stationed in Texas for a few months and just before the unit goes "in country" we will get four days together. I am so excited to see him and be together again before the long 10 month haul.

January 4, 2014

Maxwell's Birth Story

Maxwell Elliott -- December 23rd, 2013 -- 6lbs 2 oz --19.5in -- 4 weeks early

He is here! Oh boy did he give us a great story to tell!

Sunday the 22nd of December my water broke. We had just left one Christmas party and had driven 15 minutes to another, as soon as I stood up my water broke. I was just standing in a driveway trying to determine if I was peeing myself or if this was the real deal. I called out to Rob and we stood there a minute trying to process what was happening. We finally decided to head to the hospital, but I really wanted to go by the house to get our bags.

When we arrived at our house, we saw that I was bleeding a good deal. Rob grabbed our bags and drove like a crazy person to the hospital. I was really scared something was going wrong. We walked straight into Maternity & Evaluation and were hooked up to contraction monitors. The Doctor's told me that my placenta was detaching and that was the cause of the blood, they told us if it got worse they would need to do an emergency c-section.

We were moved up to a labor room where I tried my hardest to stick to my birth plan, but there was obviously another plan. Over the next 22 hours I had to have an epidural, IV, pitocin and then a c-section. I couldn't dilate past 3 cm and we found out later that even if I had my bones wouldn't have allowed a natural delivery.

I remember finally falling apart when they told me I had to have a c-section. Maxwell was coming four weeks early and I was afraid he would be in the NICU after delivery. All of our family was in the room before they took me to surgery and I was so relieved to have them all there for support. I couldn't believe that in a few moments we would be meeting our son and my journey of motherhood would begin.

During the surgery there was a lot of commotion and they asked Rob to come take a photo. Maxwell's umbilical cord was tied in a knot and wrapped around his neck. The Doctor's told us he was a miracle baby. They only see knots like this once a year and it doesn't have a happy ending. I was crying tears of joy as I heard his first screams. Rob went over and watched as they cleaned him up and checked him out. He was absolutely perfect. It felt like hours before Rob walked over with Max and laid him on my chest. He was so beautiful and all ours. I cannot explain the emotions, but they were overpowering.

And just like that we became parents to a beautiful baby boy. And we've been sleeping less and smiling more ever since.