Little Pumpkin–it’s here

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Little Pumpkin,

Your first birthday is here. Momma has had a wide range of emotions about this day since before you were born.

I found out I was pregnant with you right around four weeks, which is sort of early. I immediately fell in love with you the second I saw the pink line. That love came with lots of fears and worries, but also a feeling of complete and total joy that I can’t even explain with words.

I thought about what you would like.

Were you a boy or a girl?

Would you survive in my tummy and make it out healthy?

Would you have my features or your dad’s?

Would I be a good mother?

Are these cramps normal?

We found out you were a girl and we picked a name, Genevieve Green. Genevieve because it is quite beautiful which we knew you would be. Green for your Grandma in Heaven.

We prepped and prepared, prayed and cried, celebrated and rejoiced, and then you were here. November 8, 2018 you changed our world forever.

I say I loved you even before you were born, which I did. I felt you move, grow, kick, hiccup, and knew you before I saw you. But little pumpkin, when you were born, I felt a love and connection that is indescribable. My instincts to protect you, keep you safe, dry your tears, nurture, love and keep you with me escalated into what I now know other mother’s had been telling me about all these years. But it was so much better and intense than I had ever dreamed.

The first few days turned into weeks which turned into months…

Am I doing this right?

Am I a good mother?

Will you know I put her down when I needed a tiny break from the 2AM crying session?

Will you always be this perfect?

I can’t believe I am so lucky to be your mom.

Surely you will sleep longer stretches, right?

I swear I can’t sing Tom Petty one more time–please stop crying and sleep!

You are so amazing, I’m sorry I was so tired and grumpy.. you are perfect.

Now you are one. You say a few words, you eat food, you crawl (incredibly fast), you stand, laugh, smile, snuggle, give kisses. You clap and dance, you throw tiny tantrums, and explore, you feel music and have preferences to different artist–I’m convinced you’re going to be a musician of some sort. You bring a light into our world where we did not even know darkness was before.

Before I know it, you’ll be walking–then running…

You’ll be off to school–then graduating.

You’ll have your first heartbreak–then be walking down the aisle.

You’ll have many more tantrums, we will have some fights.

You’ll say the words “I love you” back to me and I’m sure one day you’ll probably mutter “I hate you” under your breathe.

You’ll have more birthdays…

You’re going to grow and change and I am so incredibly excited to see the beautiful woman you become–but I also am cherishing these little years and the beautiful little person you are now.

So on your first birthday… I want you to know.

I love you. I will always love you. I cherish you. I will always cherish you. I will always protect you.

You are my favorite person. You will always be my favorite person.

I support you. I will always support you. I listen and see you. I will always listen and see you.

I am proud of you. I will always be proud of you.

We may not agree on everything, but please know you can ALWAYS count on me to hear you.

One day (hopefully a long time from now) momma will join her momma in Heaven. You will feel a lot of emotions and probably feel like there were so many things left unsaid. But look back on this and remember…

As long as I am living (physically on earth or eternally in Heaven) I love you and I am with you.

Xoxo.

Dear Momma

Momma,

Your grand-daughter is getting so big. She laughs all the time, smiles, waves, and claps at everyone, gives the best snuggles, and is constantly saying “dadadada.” She has hazel eyes that look really green on some days–especially in the sun. Her cheeks are perfectly round and rosy! & her lips are going to be big like mine. She’s independent, loves music, and brings more joy to my life than I could have ever imagined.

Momma… I wish you were here to be her grandma. I wish I could call you and ask about when I first started walking, talk to you about teething, and listen to your stories about being a young mom.

I wish I could ask you how you managed to work, take care of us three kids, and do everything else on your own. I have Sammy (who I wish you could have met too) to call and lean on when life gets tough and being a momma wears on my heart. He isn’t always around, but at least I always have the phone to call and talk to him. How’d you do it, momma? How’d you do so much without any help?

Momma… I wish I could go back and be grateful, say thank you, and show you how much I appreciate you. I wish you could know how much I am in awe of the mothering you did–alone.

I wish I could call you and tell you to stop giving her sugar… that she can only have 1 treat today. That she needs to nap because we have a big afternoon ahead of us. I wish I could drop her off to you on my way to my new job. That I could pick her up from your house and sit around and chat about all the things you two did together. I wish I could see you be a grandma, because I know you’d be the very best one.

Momma… I know Heaven is better than here, but I still need you. I need you to help me through this adventure, I need your guidance, your assurance, and probably a little snuggle time too. I need you to hold me when I feel like I am failing my daughter and tell me that I am doing the best job I possibly can.

I still need you, Momma, even though I’m a momma now too.

Baby Love

I’ve been a momma for a little over 3 months and it is my favorite thing but also the hardest. I get to wake up every morning and snuggle my sweet baby, listen to her coo, giggle, and even sometimes scream her little head off. The moments are so precious but also so quick. I’ve been told more times than I can remember that in a blink of an eye she’ll be 18 and leaving for college.

I don’t want to think about this tiny little human not needing me anymore.

Being a momma has changed my entire world. What I thought was once important really isn’t anymore. I now spend less time on my phone and live in the moment (besides when I’m soaking up cute photos and videos to share with the world). I rarely find time to shower or fix my hair, which makes me feel like a slob; but when I hold my baby and she smiles up at me, I don’t care that I have spit up in my hair from 3 days before. I’m a slight clean freak and tend to get anxiety when things aren’t in the correct places, but I’ve realized making funny faces at my daughter to get her to laugh is far more enjoyable than cleaning.

Life as a momma has been the greatest and scariest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s a mixture of counting down till bedtime but missing them once they’re asleep. It’s feeling like a rockstar but also guilty. It’s wanting alone time but wondering what/how they’re doing when you are alone.

Sometimes I get frustrated when she’s awake at 2am and all I want to do is sleep. Then two seconds later and a huge pang of grief wipes over me for feeling that way. Or when she’s crying so hard and I can’t seem to calm her down. I wonder what I’m doing wrong, if I’m cut out for this. I sometimes wish I could go to the store without my little one, but the second she’s not in the car I just stare at the mirror wishing her sweet little face was looking up at me. I wonder if she’ll grow up and feel loved, if she’ll know that I tried my hardest and even in the moments of frustration, I loved her more than I could ever explain. I wonder if she’ll remember crying because I was trying to finish my sandwich instead of scooping her up right away… These feelings are the things I’ve read about on other mom blogs and I know I let myself ride on the irrational train. BUT being a momma is hard work.

I just hope that other mommas know they are enough too. And that it’s completely normal to feel irrational. Know that no one can love your baby the way you do. You know your baby better than anyone. Even when you cannot be with your baby, at the end of the day you’re still their momma and love them more fiercely than anyone ever could. I think it’s important for us to remember our identity has changed, but it doesn’t have to be wrapped all up in our baby. (Although I’m still working on this). Our babies grow so quickly, enjoy them, but also remember it’s okay to enjoy things without them too. & try to not let yourself get too irrational because we are human and we can only do so much!

Being a Motherless Daughter

“When a daughter loses a mother, the intervals between grief responses lengthen over time, but her longing never disappears. It always hovers at the edge of her awareness, prepared to surface at any time, in any place, in the least expected ways.” Hope Edelman (Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss)

I became a motherless daughter when I was sixteen years old. This was almost 11 years ago… I lost her to cancer. As I have aged and gone through different phases and stages of life the “longing” for her has come like rapid fire emerging out of nowhere. While other times it is subtle and more like a pinched nerve that only hurts when I move a certain way. Being pregnant without my mom has definitely felt like that pinched nerve at certain moments and other moments it’s like I’m reliving her death and that gasping-for-air-grief all over again.

During my first trimester when I was hospitalized multiple times due to being dehydrated and so sick, I wondered what her pregnancies were like and if she was sick too. I laid up in my mother-in-law’s house for weeks, puking every 20-40 minutes, dry heaving even 12+ hours after I attempted to eat. I laid there everyday so thankful I had this wonderful lady who took care of me like she was my mom, but I also laid there feeling guilty and sad.

As I progressed into the second trimester and started feeling Geneveive kick, I wanted to talk to my mom about those wonderful flutters. I wanted to ask her about stretch marks and how much weight she gained. Now, in my third trimester, I long for her to know her first grand-baby. To have her in the room with me during labor, to call and cry to her when I’m having an anxiety attack because I don’t feel prepared, to simply talk to her about this new journey. Some days it’s in the back of my mind and others it is a blazing forest fire ripping through me.

I want my mom here and that is selfish because I know heaven is beyond anything I could imagine. I feel guilty because I have been blessed with different motherly figures throughout my adulthood and it’s a fine line between letting them love me like their own and feeling like I’m leaving my mom behind. There are so many emotions (some irrational) that come with grief and loss. I feel heartbroken because my daughter will never know this amazing woman who I called my mom. I feel ashamed when I think about all the ‘fill-in’ grandma’s my daughter will have because what if that hurts my mom? I know it’s probably irrational to think that way because God gave me these incredible women to talk to and love me–but it does not make the thoughts go away.

There are times when her death lays on my chest like an elephant suffocating me… I wonder if I am allowed to be loved by other motherly figures. It is okay to have these second families that I spend my time, holidays, etc with? Does it make me a bad daughter to not mourn her at all times? I feel it becomes harder to accept love from others–that I should return the love, gifts, favors, advice with another gift or money. I know God did not take my mom as punishment, but I find myself wanting to punish myself for letting other people in.

I know as I grow older, the longing for her will still not fade. There will always be a need for my mom–questions I have, stories I want to share, other babies I want her to meet… I was blessed to have my mother for sixteen years and I am so thankful for our time, but it was not enough.

Side Note: losing my mother so young did create a special bond between my siblings and I. My little brother has blossomed into this amazing young man who is wise beyond his years. My older sister is a role model, a take-charge and keep us in-line beautiful soul who consistently reminds us the value and importance of family. She is so much like my mom and it is wonderful having her around to keep that memory even more vibrant. God works in mysterious ways that we don’t always understand, but I know our relationship was a small part of his bigger plan.

Nothing Fancy, Just LOVE!

My husband and I eloped on May 27, 2017. We told only a select amount of people before we traveled to Lake of Ozark’s and tied the knot. It was one of the best days of our lives and I am so incredibly thankful we chose to elope instead of have a big traditional wedding. I have a list of many reasons we eloped and a list of a few things we would have done differently.

We eloped because:

-So many people had opinions on what our wedding should have/shouldn’t have looked like

-We both come from extremely large families, but we also have a handful of friends we consider family and choosing a wedding party would have been a nightmare and tons of feelings probably would have been hurt

-There were a lot of opinions on who should or should not be in our wedding party

-MONEY!!! Sam, unfortunately, married into my HUGE sum of student loan debt and thinking about spending $10+grand on a wedding instead of debt just seemed unrealistic and wasteful of our resources

-I suffer from anxiety and the thought of trying to plan a party that hundreds of people will attend, as well as knowing it would have been one of the biggest days of my life seemed overwhelming (to say the least)

-My mom. My mom died when I was sixteen and even though I had always dreamed of my wedding day and the details that would make it the fairytale Sam wanted for me, it didn’t feel like I could do it without her. As a little girl and even as you get closer to the age of marriage, many women (including myself) imagine their mom helping them with the dress; looking at their mom during the ceremony and seeing the tears of happiness; knowing your mom doesn’t think your husband is good enough but accepting him because she knows how happy he makes you; and knowing that your mom would do everything in her power to make your fairytale wedding come true. I miss my mom daily and there are so many things I wish she could be on Earth for (I know this is selfish because Heaven is a million times better), but missing her on a day that hundreds of other people would have been at just did not feel right with me. It would have made a happy day a lot harder…

-It was about us. Our wedding night will be remembered as a day that was about our love and what we felt for each other. It was simple, elegant, and imperfect. I did not wake up that morning and worry about if I had ordered enough food for all the guests or if the DJ was going to play something too inappropriate for some of our family. I woke up that morning wondering if the storm would pass so we could elope outside or if we would do the ceremony inside. I woke up feeling nervous, but not because I was fearful something would happen or go wrong at our ceremony, but because I was about to marry my best friend. I didn’t have to think about the guests, details, or anything else. I had to wake up and show up and that alone was enough of a reason for us to elope. (Not everyone worries about those things in a big wedding, but anxious/pleaser-Erica does)

A little back story about how we decided to elope before I say the things we wish we would have done differently:

About a week before Memorial Day Weekend, Sam and I were discussing getting engaged. We had talked about our engagement numerous times as well as when our wedding would be. I had always wanted a winter wedding (winter wonderland with snow, Christmas trees, lights, etc), but we had a lot of other, yet wonderful, events happening in the 2017 year that would have prevented us from having a short engagement. I was planning to visit Sam in Texas that weekend because I had a long weekend and Sam was unsure if he could get off. And because I am impatient and quite frankly, because I’m the move-maker in this relationship, I said “Hey, why don’t we elope this weekend?” Sam had heard me talk about elopement on other occasions, but he knew I was serious this time and so he said “if you’re sure, let’s do it!”

We then spent about two days trying to find somewhere to elope Memorial Day Weekend near Texas/New Mexico. Guess what? NOTHING was available because it was a holiday weekend (duh, Erica). I then started researching places in Missouri to elope and I fell upon Old Kinderhook at Lake of the Ozark’s. I emailed the lady with my questions and she said they had 1 hotel room left for the weekend and no other weddings going on. They had an elopement package, originally $1000+, but because they had nothing else going on, she let us have it for $250. This included her coordination, the Minister, and all the other minor details of the day that she would setup for us. The only thing this wedding package did not include was a photographer. Lucky for me, I have an AMAZINGLY talented sister who happens to also take THE BEST photos (find her at greensparrowphotography.net). We knew we had to have photos of the day, so we asked Mattie and of course she said yes. All of these things happened on the Tuesday before our elopement (which happened Saturday).

I also had to make sure we could get our marriage license. I emailed the Boone County office and the wonderful woman there said she would meet us on Saturday morning to get our license to us. At this point, I know God had his hand in this because all of the things that we should have planned months in advance were happening in such a short amount of time. Did I mention about a week before we decided to do this, the lady I had working on altering my mother’s wedding dress for my future wedding (I know, I know, I jumped the gun before I was even engaged) was moving and couldn’t finish the dress? I was devastated because I had waited to find the perfect person for the job and when I did, she wasn’t able to complete it. I had mixed feelings on whether or not the elopement was the best idea, but when things kept falling into place, I was comforted by God and Sam knowing that this was the right move for us. Even though I was unable to wear my mom’s dress on my big day, I found one at Jc Penny’s on sale for $60 with NO alterations needed 🙂 (SCORE)

I had to call my hair stylist and also find someone to help with make-up and lucky for me, I was able to get both Saturday morning within 1 hour of each other. I used Shannon Orton at The Trove for my hair and a lady at Dermistique for my make-up. They were both excited to be in on our secret as well as supportive and encouraging that the horrible storm brewing that day would pass during our ceremony. After my make-up was finished, I had to rush home and grab the rest of my things before meeting up with Mattie to drive to the Lake. Mattie had eloped five years prior to this and because she knew what things she wished she would have had at her own ceremony, she went above and beyond to make the day even more memorable for us. Mattie ordered me a bouquet and a cake, had Mr&Mrs signs for our chairs, added little photos of our families on Sam’s boutonnière and my bouquet (so our families could be with us that day), and also had a box of ’emergency supplies.’ I cannot thank her enough for all she did to make our day perfect.

Once I arrived at Old Kinderhook and checked in, the wedding coordinator and I discussed the ceremony details and where we would have it while it rained. We had planned to have it overlooking the golf-course near a waterfall, but it did not seem like the storm was going to let up, so we moved the plans around to have it on the patio where we would be shielded by an awning. Sam arrived shortly after I did (we did not see each other until the ceremony) as well as the few friends we asked to come stand with us. Up until this point, only five people knew we were eloping and two of them did not find out until 2 hours before the event. We had really debated on telling our immediate family to meet us, but were afraid only some could come and others would but upset they could not be there. Our ceremony was set to happen around 6:45PM because the sun would be setting, as I was getting ready to go hide before I walked to meet my groom, the storm let up and we were able to move the wedding to our original spot–outside. (Another God thing). I walked out around 6:45 and saw the best looking man I know standing there underneath gray skies waiting for me…

And now the things we wish we would have done differently or wish we would have known prior to eloping:

-Told our families prior to the elopement (looking back, it was unnecessary for us to keep it a secret from them anyway and could have been even more wonderful to let them see us as we got ready)

-Being honest with people when they gave their opinions or ‘advise’ for what our wedding day should have been like

-Go in expecting the hurt feelings of others to also cause us hurt feelings

-Knowing that eventually everyone will get past their hurt feelings and be happy for us

-No matter what option you chose, someone is bound to be upset and also tell you about it

-There are always things we wish we would have done differently (example: telling our families)

Our wedding day was perfect for us. Of course, as I mentioned, there are things we would done differently, but life is short and we cannot dwell on those things. We did what was best for us and our marriage. I LOVE big weddings and I hope that if you are one of those people who want to have a big wedding, you do! They are just as wonderful as any other wedding. Do what makes YOU happy and what YOU want. It is YOUR wedding, not anyone else’s.