Belugas & Babies (Guest post by Z)

I’ve got a little story for ya.

A few months ago Sarah and I were home playing with baby girl. Sarah was singing a rendition of the “Baby Beluga” song to our little girl, and she decided to replace “beluga” with “Ruthie” to be cute.  Being the fun guy that I am, I thought it clever to then throw Sarah’s name in the song. However, instead of saying “baby Sarah” I said “Sarah beluga…”. My wife’s face dropped, she got up, and left the room while I was left with our child and a bemused look. One minute we were all smiling and playing, and the next minute she was upset and I had no idea why.

Here is what we (I) learned that night:

Everyone cares how they look and women tend to care more than guys. Pregnancy and postpartum only amplify this. When you rewrite a song on the fly and inadvertently call your wife a whale, it will hurt her feelings.

Guys know that they need to compliment and praise their wife/fiancée/girlfriend. Women can be pretty emotional and pregnancy makes that even more dramatic. There is plenty of self doubt, insecurity, and uncertainty during and after pregnancy, and it is during that time that they need to be reassured by their guy that they are still as beautiful as ever. They will be, they just may not think so. That’s where you can step in and make sure they don’t doubt how you feel.

This is done best by being even more careful of what you say than you may normally be. Think 3 times, pause, think again, and then you may speak. Also, be careful not to think too long because then your silence becomes a negative and you’re hosed.

That night I learned:

  1. Pregnancy changes everything, particularly emotions.
  2. Make make sure you’re complimenting your gal.
  3. As guys, we’re stupid and need to rethink things often.
  4. I’m not a songwriter.
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Advice from your Mama

I have a baby that doesn’t sleep. No matter what I’ve tried, no matter what I do, I just can’t get her to be a good sleeper. I’ve read sleep article after sleep article, to no avail. “Give her rice cereal, she’s probably hungry”, my mom said over and over. I brushed it off because nowadays there’s some mixed research on whether or not it’s the best option (and hello I’ve done all my reading so I obviously know everything). The no sleep saga continues. We finally got to the point that we thought “maybe there is some medical issue that is hindering Ruthie’s sleep”. Off we go to the doctor to ensure a clean bill of health. And would you guess what the doctor ordered? Rice. Cereal. (Insert eye roll about how I had to call my mom and tell her she was right all along). Oh how I wish I had just listened to my mother. Fast forward a couple of weeks — it hasn’t helped, but I have learned a lesson. There’s a reason God gave us moms, and they have some sage advice. Maybe we should listen to our mamas a little bit more. So I did some research, and here’s advice from some mamas who I know and trust. Some of it is serious, some comical, some spiritual. Do with it what you will…or don’t.

#1: “When they fall at the park, DO NOT make eye contact!  If there is no audience to the fall, they will usually just get right back up.  But if they know you saw it the tears will start.  And the wailing.  And the “Pick me up and carry me because now I have a boo boo”.  Just look away, Mama.  Look.  Away.”

#2: “Put your phone down! They will not stay little for long. Pay attention to them and talk to them. And lock the bathroom door!”

#3: “Give yourself grace! It’s a season.”

#4: “Take the real small play doh container, like you put in party treat bags, to restaurants with you. After they eat, let them make peas, worms, whatever while parents enjoy eating. Be sure to clean it all up for waiters.”

#5: “Your mom is a very valuable tool. Next to your doctor, your greatest source of information. She knows you AND your baby. Your own instincts and her experience make a great team. When in doubt, pick up the phone and call mom!”

#6: “My toddler poured my coffee in the fish tank last week while I was feeding the dog. Enjoy the baby stage.”

#7: “Don’t compare yourself with other moms that look like they have it all together. They are just better at faking it than you are.”

#8: “When they’re older, remind them that you love them so much that when they were little you caught their vomit in your hands. Bonus points if you do it in front of their friends.”

#9: “Enjoy every moment with them and don’t feel like you have to be super mom, super wife or have a perfect house.”
#10: “You will mess up!  It will be okay and they won’t remember. Just don’t make it a habit.”

#11: “Simply laugh.”

Man oh man, how all of these words ring true. I am going to strive to live like these mamas (who know far more than I) suggest. I hope you will, too!

What is the best mama advice you’ve received?

The Hardest Part of Motherhood

“Motherhood is tough”.

“I never knew this season would be so hard”.

“Raising babies/toddlers/kids/teenagers is the hardest thing I’ve ever done”.

“I wasn’t prepared for this”.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard one of these lines. Raise two hands if you’ve ever said one of these lines. There’s no denying it — being a mama can be tough. In the best, most incredible, love filled way, motherhood stretches us. Most days it leaves us tired and needing a shower. At the end of the day yesterday, I had dealt with 7 different types of bodily fluids (number 1, number 2, drool, spit up, sweat, snot, and baby tears). But these things we think of — the yucky stuff, the sleep deprivation, the fill in the blank — these aren’t what make being mommy hard. These are just pieces to the puzzle. No, the hardest part of motherhood is that it strips away our selfishness.

As a mama, it is our job to care for another human. A very needy, very adorable human who doesn’t know how to do anything on their own yet. We feed them, bathe them, rock them, and snuggle them (and enjoy every second of it). But at the end of the day, we’re often left wondering, “do I ever get a break?” or “why do I have to do ALL of the work around here” or “what about me?”. And these are hard thoughts. These thoughts (and others like it) leave us feeling guilty and inadequate. On one hand, we feel justified in these thoughts because “hello, I’m obviously carrying the team here”. But on the other hand, we know in our hearts our attitude is wrong. These thoughts give us a glimpse at our selfish nature. (Now don’t get me wrong, it’s totally healthy for moms to take a break. It’s not the thought that’s wrong…it’s our heart behind it). They show us that we weren’t meant to do this alone, and that we need more of Jesus and less of us. Motherhood is hard because it is a constant reminder that “love is not selfish”. Repeat after me. LOVE. IS. NOT. SELFISH. Some days, I repeat this non stop.

When the baby wakes up in the middle of the night and I don’t want to get out of my warm, cozy bed. Love is not selfish.

When I find myself envious of the fact that my husband gets to do “whatever he wants” (yeah right, parenthood affects these daddies just as much). Love is not selfish.

When I get frustrated because the baby is crying for what feels like the 24380714380th time. Love is not selfish.

Motherhood is tough for so many reasons. But I honestly think the hardest part is the each day, we are challenged to die to ourselves. As humans, that’s rough. It involves growing pains, and nobody likes those. But we can find encouragement in this — if motherhood is stripping off our selfishness, then motherhood makes us more like Jesus.

So how do we submit to this? How do we accept this new normal?

-Choose to serve: instead of worrying about how hard motherhood is, what would happen if we made it our goal to make our husbands life easier? What if we chose to love our husbands by protecting their sleep, or facilitating time for them to play with baby?

-Take a break: seriously. Set aside 15 minutes each day that is yours. Run, bathe, read, watch YouTube cat videos, dance, eat cheesy nachos. I don’t care what it is. But do something for 15 minutes that is just for you.

-Pursue community: listen y’all. Satan wants you to believe that you are in this alone. He wants us to think that we are the only person who has ever walked this path or that nobody will understand us or that nobody cares how we feel. DON’T BELIEVE THESE LIES. Surround yourself with people who care about you and will speak Truth into your life. We need people who will help us along this path of sanctification.

Things they don’t tell you about motherhood

When people find out you’re pregnant, they automatically offer advice. Here’s how to do this, be ready for that, don’t worry if ____ happens — you know the drill. In these last 4 months, I’ve been amazed at the things I’ve learned that nobody has told me, or maybe they did and I didn’t listen. Here are some surprising things nobody tells you before you become a mom:

If you have a little girl, pay attention to her bows. I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve looked back and RJ’s bow had fallen in front of her eyes because the bow was too big for her head. No wonder the kid was crying. Now that her head is OFF THE CHARTS huge, bows tend to leave dents in her head. It’s comical, but also makes you feel like the worst. So if you’re putting a bow on the child’s head, make sure it fits.

The laundry. Oh my gosh the laundry. Before RJ was born, I would wash probably 3 loads a week. Now, I can easily do about 8 loads…and still be behind. I feel like some homeless person must be sneaking into my house in the middle of the night and using all of our clothes, because surely 2.5 people can’t produce this much laundry. Right? Wrong.Tiny babies poop everywhere and spit up and have really cute outfits that they grow out of in a matter of minutes seconds.  When it comes to laundry, 1 + 1 + 1  = 312,780,412 (apparently).

At home date nights are a thing of the past. Once you have a baby, it becomes even more important to spend quality time with your man. But listen closely — do not try to have an at home date night. We’ve given this a go a couple of times, and it was a joke. We cooked a yummy dinner, rented a movie, and sat down to watch it together. And that’s when the baby decides it’s time to have a meltdown (never mind the fact that mom should have realized it was time to eat). At home date nights are great in theory, but only lead to a failed attempt at quality time.

Dad will always be the fun one. This one here really gets me riled up. As moms, we put in all of the work leading up to the kid being born. We grow the child for 9 whole months, we go through labor (or if you’re like me, you have a C-section because your baby is completely upside down), learn how to breastfeed/bottle feed and wake up in the middle of the night, and then when the kid learns to smile, they will only do it for dad. Not that parenthood is a competition or anything, but come on kid!

I’m pretty sure babies are bi-polar. Little babes have this incredible and strange ability to go from crying sorority girl (disclaimer: cut this video off before you get to the last 5 seconds…there is a bad word) to this level of happy in a matter of 0.12 seconds. It is equal parts terrifying and adorable.

Tiny baby snuggles are the best. Let’s be real, some things about motherhood can be frustrating. But as soon as your baby snuggles up to you, all of the irritating things just melt away. The heavens open up and the angels sing, and all is right in the world.

What about you? What surprised you about motherhood?

You’re not Mom

Quick disclaimer, if the title didn’t tip you off, I’m not Sarah. Our little girl reminds me of this quite frequently, and it’s neither a bad thing nor a good thing. Being Dad simply looks very different than being Mom. Some things I literally can not do and other things S can’t do. 

One of the hardest parts of adjusting to being a dad is the “what do I do?” question that pops up about every time the kid squeaks. When the kid melts down because they are hungry…not much I can do. It seems silly, but it plays itself out in hard ways. Early on when the baby has to eat every 2-3 hours and S is getting out of bed 4 times a night to feed the kid, it isn’t easy to know what to do or how to help. As previously stated, Dad is no help when it comes to feeding. Often times this leads to feeling inadequate and guilty. I get to stay in bed while S doesn’t sleep and feeds the baby. But what’s a guy to do? 

There is a feeling that every guy has felt. He is holding a small child and the thing erupts. Sad. Pathetic. Loud. The little ball of cuteness has morphed into a monster, like Jack-Jack at the end of The Incredibles. The first time this happens for a mom, she may inwardly freak out, but outwardly she calmly soothes the kid back to tiny human form. The first time this happens to a guy he holds the kid at arms length and prays for the mother to take it back. The point here is that Mom is just better at comfort. Dad can try and even be successful from time to time, but he is never what the kid actually wants. He will always be number two in the pecking order. But what’s a guy to do? 

Grouped together with the first two insufficiencies is the knowledge that God gave moms an intuition that he omitted from dads. We’ve all seen this even without having our own kids. You’re at a restaurant with a new mom and her kid, no one else sees it, no one else could possibly see it, but the mom sees, senses, or hears that the baby needs something. She tells you whats wrong and quick draws a bottle out of a holster like an Old Western sheriff or puts the kid to sleep in 0.25 seconds. These are the things that intimidate a dad. Most of us don’t get to spend as much time with the kid, so we don’t know them as well. We want to help, but genuinely have no clue what we are doing 95% of the time (this is actually true in pretty much every aspect of life, we never actually know what we are doing). So what’s a guy to do? 

1. Do something. Anything remotely helpful. Go get the diapers and the wipes ready for changing. Make a bottle. Or, when all baby tasks are taken, do stuff around the house like fold laundry, pickup all the kids toys, or do dishes. 

2. DO SOMETHING. For real. Get up and doing anything. 

3. Know that coming home is no longer a peaceful environment. Work may be done, but now your job starts. Dad time. Take the kid from mom and let her do something else. This is the best part of the day. You get to swoop in and be the hero AND spend time with your awesome little kid. 

4. Talk to your spouse. This can mean a few different things. a) Be a grown up human that they can talk to because they have been starving for adult interaction for a while now. b) Figure out what they need. What is most helpful in your situation? Everyone has a different setup going, so find what they think is the most helpful. 

Lessons from Motherhood

Let me just start by saying that sweet RJ is only 3 months old. So I’m very new to this gig, and by no means an expert. But I’m learning, each and every day. As with all worthwhile things, some days I knock it out of the park, and other days I come up short. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned:

#1: Time is valuable.

Whether you look at your baby and think “how can you be rolling over already? Weren’t you just born 2 days ago?” (RJ is not rolling over yet, but I’m sure I’ll think this when she actually does) Or “good Lord I’ve been rocking the baby for over and hour and I just want to sit on the couch and watch This Is Us. Why are you not sleeping?”, there’s no way to deny it. Having a tiny human makes us recognize the significance of every moment.

#2: No one should have to do this alone.

All my single mamas out there, kudos to you. I don’t know how you do it, but I tip my hat. Sometimes, though, you just need a helper. Someone to take the baby when she’s cried for what feels like eternity and you’re just done, someone to get you water when you’re nursing and feel as if you’ve been in the Sahara, someone to tell you “hey, you’re doing a great job”, someone to change that poopy diaper because you’ve seen all the bodily fluids you can handle in a day. If you don’t have a cheerleader, have your people call my people. We’re all in this together.

#3: Our plans are garbage.

Have I mentioned before that I didn’t mean to have a baby? Z and I thought we would start our family in a few years. We had plans and adventures to accomplish. Throughout my pregnancy, I struggled with why God would change the trajectory of my life. But looking at RJ now, I realize that our plans are often garbage in comparison to what God has for us. So if your life doesn’t look the way you thought it would, take heart. I’m sure that God is at work.

#4: My husband is not the enemy.

Repeat this with me. And when the baby is having a meltdown, just say it over and over in your head. Maybe it’ll sink in someday. Can anyone tell me why this one is so hard? Z is my number one fan and helper, and yet he’s the one who gets all my crap when I get stressed. Not fair.

#5: Exercise. We need it.

We may not realize it, but every mama needs a break. And you know what? That doesn’t make you a bad mom. Go for a quick run, take a walk around the block, do anything to just get away from your people for even 15 minutes. It helps. Also, baby weight. It’s the worst. I believe that we should get to have a normal body once baby is born…I mean, you just birthed a child for crying out loud. But alas, this is not how the world works. Do you know what does help with those pesky extra pounds? Exercise. In the wise words of Elle Woods, “Exercise give you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t”. (See above lesson. Don’t kill your husband.)

#6: Those hippie snake oils.

Baby won’t poop? There’s an oil for that. Worried about flu season? There’s an oil for that, too. Baby won’t sleep? Grab the oils. I know it sounds crazy, but I swear they work. There’s a marked difference in RJ’s sleep when we use them, praise Jesus hallelujah. (Feel free to reach out to me if you want  to know more).

#7: IT’S SO WORTH IT.

Need I say more?