Growing Baby Bear

It's been a while. (Sorry!)

We've been busy over here with our latest excitement: growing baby bear. I'm sure most of your know this already. However, it's been hard to put into words what the last eight months have been like. Hence, the radio silence around here.

After dreaming, praying and hoping for a baby, it’s been more than I ever imagined it could be, and he’s not even born yet!

First, I was sick most of the spring. It wasn’t fun, but I also am grateful it was March and April, when I didn’t miss out on much. Instead I got to cozy up and knit lots of cute baby things between naps.

Once I hit the 2nd trimester, it felt like a switch was flipped. My energy came back and my stomach could handle things again. It felt miraculous. We made use of the summer to its fullest, traveling and generally enjoying being pregnant.

This fall, we’ve nested like crazy and are finally feeling good about where we’re at with everything. We’re as ready as we’re ever going to be for this next step!

I have tried to keep a little video journal of this pregnancy. It will be a good summary of the last 8 months.

The Loneliest Line

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Let me tell you a story about a little girl. When she was one, her mother gave her a homemade doll and she named it Amy. When she was four she had the first dream she could remember and in it she was a mom. When she was five, she claimed the closet under the stairs as a nursery and took care of a dozen dolls in some sort of super octo-mom game. In middle school, she aspired to grow up and have 10 (!) kids. As she got older, this dream obviously tempered and became a bit more realistic, but it remained constant. Someday she would be a mom, of that she was sure.

I'm sure you've figured out that that girl is me.

And this is my story to motherhood. It’s one that has felt isolating, lonely and at times hopeless. I’ve gone back and forth about whether to open up about this, but I know that if someone out there is going through the same thing we have, I would want them to know they aren’t alone. (and if I'm being honest, I wouldn't mind hearing that I'm not alone either)

This story doesn’t start with a sudden surprise or casual romantic "let's have a baby" moment. We've always been open to life, but when two people become one and then consider adding new little person, there is alot to consider. It wasn't until this year, with the business stable enough to support us and having moved closer to our families, that we felt that things were as close to “ready” as they’d ever be. We were a little scared and a little excited to see what might be in store for us. 

What was in store for us? Well, mostly countless negative pregnancy tests, long nights filled with tears and lots of doubt.

The first half of the year was fine, I mean, we were disappointed, but we also comforted ourselves with stats like “only 20% conceive in the first month, 75% in the first 6 months...” etc.

As summer turned to fall, every day someone else announced they were expecting. How lonely it is to watch others seem to effortlessly get what you pray for every night. What sort of despicable person cries in private instead of rejoicing about someone else’s happy news?

I do.

I feel guilty for overreacting when we've only tried for “x” months while other people try for years and have "real diagnosed infertility." After all, it’s not infertility until you’ve been trying for a year. We’re just two people who can’t seem to make a baby. Something that for many people happens accidentally.

As sisters, girlfriends, acquaintances, strangers announce their happy news, I tick off month after month of failure.

Failure. Failure. Failure.

It’s hard to stay hopeful every month as we wait for yet another single pink line.

That lonely line. 

People advise us “enjoy this time,” “ it’ll never be the same,” and "you're still so young." While I understand they want to help and that there really isn’t anything better that they could say, those are only small consolations.

We realize that instead of filling the coming months with a little life, we have unexpected time to plan trips and try really hard not to think about how we’d hoped to spend it instead. So here we are. We look forward to exciting adventures, enjoy our home, and love our life together, and yet still remember that last Christmas we thought we'd be in a different place by now. 

Then again, Mary probably thought she'd be in a different place when she gave birth to her child. Josef most likely didn't expect his family to get started the way it did. We make plans and imagine how things will be, only to learn that's not God's plan. 

God didn't come to fulfill our Pinterest dreams. He came to save our lives. Especially at this time of the year, we remember that. He never said He'd fulfill our expectations. He said He'd save us. And that, friends, He has done. All of my selfishness, failure, ingratitude, impatience, envy, and sin is gone. 

It is finished, done, amen. 

But even after that there is still a deep desire for a family. My heart longs for motherhood and to see Dave become a father. I remind myself that there is nothing wrong with that dream. It is good.

I am sure that God has created me with this dream and He hasn't given me this desire to torment me for He is a good God. I know this has and will teach and help me grow, but there will come a day when we will have children. We've learned that it won't happen the way we expected, but somehow, somewhere this story will contain little Russells and a set of very happy parents. 

And when we finally get to hold that little baby bear that we’ve prayed, hoped and cried for, it will be all the sweeter for the waiting.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 
— Romans 5:3-5

p.s. I feel the need to say that I only share my story and pain, and none of this is meant to judge, devalue, or critique anyone else's path or experience. I would be happy to listen to your struggle, preferably over a mug of something hot. We all have hurts, this is mine.

4 Years

Somehow Dave and I have been an “us” for 4 years today.

This feels like a bigger deal than our wedding anniversary was. Because our wedding was just a confirmation and cementing of what already was.

Last night we were lying in bed and I asked Dave if he knew I was going to be his wife 4 years ago when he kissed me for the first time. He totally surprised me when he said maybe not that night, but he did within a month after we started dating. I had no idea that he was sure about that so early on — sooner even than miss overly-attached me. A little piece of our love story that I didn’t know. I love that.

I’m a pretty sentimental person, so anniversaries are special to me. I love looking back how far we’ve come and look forward to what still will. So happy I get to do life with that handsome guy. Here’s to many more years!

P.S. Our love story here.

First Anniversary

Monday is our anniversary. 1 year of marriage down. What a year!

I’ve been thinking back to our wedding. I’ve had so many feelings and memories. Especially thinking how silly some things I thought were so important really weren’t and what things were totally worth it, that I’m still glad we did and would do again in a heartbeat.

Wedding photographer: Sally O’Donnell Photography She was all I never knew I needed in a wedding photographer. One of my biggest regrets was not thinking to get a picture with her. She was such a huge part of the day and I have no picture with her.

Wedding perfume: It was a random idea, but I love it. I bought this from Anthro and only wore it for the wedding weekend and honeymoon. Now whenever I smell it, the memories come flooding back. I think I’ll wear it on our Anniversary…

Veil: It’s a little cheesy to have a 10 foot veil, but I wanted this picture and I’m so glad I did it. When else do you get to wear a veil in your life? Never, so might as well take advantage on your wedding.

My Bouquet: I was considering cutting costs and going with something simpler, but holding peonies, hydrangeas, and roses all day was one of the funnest parts of the day. I had no idea how much I’d enjoy carrying around pretty flowers for a day.

Cat pictures: Pretty sure some people think we’re crazy, but besides Dave, I spend the most time with Ellie and Fritz. They’re a huge part of our lives and it wouldn’t have been true to ourselves not to get a picture with these two. It’s our whole little family!

Dancing: We added a dj and dancing a week before the wedding. It worked out so providentially and made the reception feel so happy. I’m so grateful for it. Some of my favorite memories are of our friends surrounding us on the dance floor.

Our Honeymoon: Maybe this is a no brainer, but doing a real honeymoon was seriously the best. Alot of our budget was determined by paying for it out of our own pocket and not wanting to go into debt. But when Dave got a new job a month into our engagement, we decided to splurge on a honeymoon instead of making our wedding budget bigger. After the stress and emotional rollercoaster of our wedding, chilling in Jamaica for a week was the perfect way to basque in our newly-wed status.

Asking Future Sister-in-Laws to be Bridesmaids: This is something I knew I wanted to do. My sister-in-laws-to-be hadn’t known me forever, or helped me through college, but as we became family, I knew they’d be a part of our life for decades to come. We may not have been super close at the time, but I wanted them to know they’re important and someday to look back and see them next to us. I’m so glad I made that decision.

First Look: I never realized how important this would be. But watching other brides not having seen their groom before the ceremony, made me certain we made the right decision. I needed my #1 supporter and friend in more ways than one to help get me through the day. And since walking down the aisle wasn’t traditional for us, the first look was extremely important to us. That moment was just for us.

This Guy: Well duh, but I can’t write about things I’d do over and over without mentioning Dave. He’s the one that made it all worth it — the planning, the stress, the emotions, the 2 years of waiting. I keep expecting the other shoe to drop, for the spell to break, the clock to strike midnight, for all those terrible things people say about marriage to be true. But it doesn’t and I’m still so grateful he’s the guy I got to marry. More importantly, I’m so glad he’s the one I get to do life with.

Happy Anniversary, Dave-man! So glad you’re mine to call Husband.

What I learned from my Wedding

Yesterday marked month 4 since our wedding and I could write all about how it seems like forever and just yesterday and everything like that. But something that I’ve recently been thinking about a bit more is how my own wedding taught me to be a better wedding guest.

The people involved have the biggest impact on the day. If you really think about it, anything else can go wrong, but if you’re marrying the right person while surrounded by people who are joyful with and supportive of you then the rest is all just details. When I look at our wedding pictures, the shots of people are the ones I love studying the most. I was in such a haze that I felt the love and support around us, but wasn’t able to notice every single person’s amazing presence the whole time — the love is overwhelming. I’m still realizing and becoming more grateful for everything our tribe did for us.

There are things that I just assumed about what it was like to be a bride. And once I actually was planning our wedding, I learned things I never expected. Obviously every wedding and couple will be different, but I’m assuming these are things that most couples getting married will experience and as a wedding guest wouldn’t be a terrible idea to keep in mind. Here’s what I learned from being the Bride that will help me be a better wedding guest in the future:

  1. Every well wish and congratulations is welcome, appreciated, and enjoyed. I used to try and play it off cool when someone was getting married. But now I know that the more I can celebrate someone the better! It’s so easy as a bride to get wrapped up in the details and stress, that the more positive vibes and well wishes anyone sends her way the better.
  2. I learned that every single gift and card is appreciated. Before getting married Dave and I would tell each other “Our presence is a good enough present.” I cringe now thinking back on that. (Sorry to anyone out there that we didn’t have the decency to at least put together a card for you.) As a scatter brained person, it’s so easy for time to get away from me and not have a card ready when the wedding comes. And then I’m to embarrassed to send something after the wedding. I most certainly didn’t expect gifts for our wedding, but every single gift was appreciated in a way that is hard to explain. I learned that I will never again not give a gift because I know how much joy it brings. Perhaps I’m secretly a gift love-language girl, but each gift made me feel closer and more loved to the gift giver.
  3. Offer specific help. This can be really hard, especially if you’re far away. I’m currently struggling to find a way to be useful for my sister-in-law as she plans her wedding because I don’t know what she needs. But if there is something you see that you could help out with or hear about a task the bride is struggling with just tell her you’re available. It’s hard for a bride to take an ambiguous offer for help and actually think of you when she needs help. Tell her what you can do, offer times and help her plan a time for you to help her.
  4. If you can’t go to the actual wedding, a personal note (even a text of FB message) explaining why is so so appreciated compared to a “no” rsvp. Send your well wishes and know that they will understand, but still miss you even if all they could have done was hug you on the actual day.

  5. Tell the bride and groom about your experience at their wedding afterward. I’ve been loving to hear about everyone’s different perspective and favorite parts of the day. I spent so much time planning it that it’s been nice to hear feedback. I wouldn’t have known how amazing the dessert buffet at our wedding was unless guests told us afterward — I didn’t come in early enough to see it all. Give the gift of reliving that special day through your perspective.
  6. Remember your presence, joy and love (and understanding!) are the most precious gifts you can give. Getting married feels like a standing in the center of a tornado sometimes. It’s a tornado mostly filled with intense joy and happiness, but stress and other confusing feelings sneak in there — getting married is a big deal. Just be there for your friends. Smile for them. Love them. And if something doesn’t go the way you want, remember that the bride and groom wish they could made everything perfect for you, but they are only humans and going through a huge life event. They want you there with them enjoying yourself more than anything else.

These are the things I’m going to try and remember as I attend weddings in the future. Since I’m one of the first of my closest friends to get married, I’m hoping to be able to celebrate with many of them in the future! And hopefully I’ll be better at it now than I was before my own wedding.

Pictures are all c/o Sally O’Donnell Photography