June 30, 2010

Beach Adventures

Thanks for all your sweet texts, comments and tweets! B and I had a fantastic time at the beach - such a great time, in fact, that I took exactly three pictures. Too much fun to slow down for a camera, I suppose.

I walked on the beach, lazed by the pool, enjoyed yummy seafood, tore through a long book, took naps while B had meetings, dressed up to dance and dine, swung by the outlets and basically soaked up adult conversation all weekend. (Not to say we didn't talk about Mac; we absolutely did. It's amazing how quickly kids come up when you meet new people!)

You've already seen one of the pictures I snapped last weekend. Food was clearly high on my priority list; I'm paying the price for it at the gym this week.

Here are the other two - proof that I did indeed wear a bathing suit and indisputable evidence that chivalry (ha ha) is not dead.

Don't worry, Mom, I packed my sunblock!

You can't make this stuff up. I'd call but I'm no super model...

Wordless Wednesday: A Delicious Weekend

June 25, 2010

Follow Friday

Follow Friday is a weekly Twitter happening; people list their favorite "tweeps" so others can follow them, too. It's a great way to "meet" new people and spark interesting conversations - the whole point of Twitter.

Today is Friday. Since I'm currently on a beach applying SPF 900, thus unable to think of anything else to discuss, I thought I'd bring this trend to the blog world and share a few suggestions with you.

My interests (blog-wise) include public relations, current events, cooking, meal planning, theology, marriage and family, advertising, pop culture (a little less than my pre-baby days, to be sure), nursing, bargain shopping, fashion, interior design and anything that involves Christianity, Clemson or the South Carolina coast. As such, the blogs I follow run the gamut.

Here are a few favorites, plus specific posts that have stood out to me lately:

Stuff Christians Like: hilarious satire that hits home because it's very, very true
  • Mother's Day vs Father's Day Sermons: I loved this because it's spot on the sermons at the churches I've been to on Mother's and Father's Days over the years. "Get it together, Dads!" versus "Moms, we couldn't live without you!"
  • Fixing It Versus Being Forgiven: This was a great reminder to me, a textbook people pleaser, Type A personality who mistakenly believes that she is in control. I look at my life, now and in the past, as something I can manage or fix. That's not how it works...
  • Doubting God's Goodness Wow, am I guilty of this sometimes. I don't believe in "karma" and would absolutely tell you we serve a loving God. So why did I flinch when Bradley talked at length recently about how wonderful our life is, how very blessed we are? (Also, the phrase "pull the sheets back and show you the spiders in the bed" represents one of my worst childhood fears. Another store for another day... Made the post even more powerful for me. Eek, spiders in the bed!)
Seattle Mama Doc: thoughtful advice from an expert
  • 2 is the new 1 Moms, PLEASE read this. Your baby is 75% less likely to die or be seriously injured in a car accident if he stays rear-facing until the age of two. Seventy-five percent. With a statistic like that, the least we can do is research our options and make an educated decision. I won't be flippant about the decision, that's for sure.
  • If you're going to buy organic, here's where to start. This was very helpful for me as I begin to navigate the waters of feeding "real food" to a baby and taking a closer look at what's on our table.
PR Breakfast Club hit the nail on the head with their post on mad libs press releases. Remember how fun Mad Libs were growing up? Turns out we've been doing them for our clients without realizing it...

Sweet Amy at Chapters wrote about God's eye being on the sparrow - and what that means for her, and for each of us, really, as believers. I can't express it nearly as well as she did, so please read it and see for yourself.

What's on your virtual reading list today? Any suggestions for blogs I should be following?

June 24, 2010

(Not Too) Far and Away

In a few hours, Bradley and I will drop our little man off in Columbia for three nights of grandparent bliss: non-stop kisses, rolling around, new toys, another puppy to play with, outside adventures and fresh furniture to drool all over. It's going to be baby heaven.

B and I will be out of town until Sunday, the longest we've ever left him. We're eagerly anticipating some time in the sun and a few grown-up conversations, but we miss our monkey already.

I'll miss the way he stretches when he wakes up.

I'll miss his belly laughs at the silly things his mama does.

I'll miss his turning a bib around when it's time to stop drooling and get down to business.

I'll miss little previews of what he'll be like as a boy, turning pages and 'reading' intently.

I'll miss the way he pounces on this poor, defenseless tiger and growls as he gnaws on it.

I'll miss his lunges toward the camera whenever it appears.

I'll miss him splashing in the tub while enjoying a gourmet dessert of rubber ducky.

I'll miss trying to sneak a picture of him sleeping in the backseat.

(Photo courtesy of Wendy at A Southern Accent)
I'll miss him 'telling' me what's on his mind. Can't you almost hear him talking in this shot?

(Photo courtesy of Wendy at A Southern Accent)
I'll miss Mac's sleepy cuddles, when he wants his thumb, his lovey and his mama - in that order.

Thankfully, I know I'll get to see and do all of those things once we return from our little getaway. In the meantime, I can rest assured that his Mimi and Grandpa are reveling in every moment with their sweet grandson.

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, it's hard to imagine how excited we'll be to see our boy when we return!!

Until then, I'm going to spend a little (spit up-free) time with this guy:

Despite the expression, I promise he likes me back. Well, I'm pretty sure, at least. Happy almost weekend, everyone!!

June 23, 2010

June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day, B!

October 5, 2009

The moment you met Mac, you became the wonderful father I already knew you'd be.

Looking at you now, no one would guess that you had never diapered, dressed, bathed or even kissed a baby before your own. I'd say you're a natural but I also know the heart and attention you put into every part of being Mac's dad.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for loving our son the way you do. For caring and providing and praying for our family. For being a partner and a role model and a leader. Mac already adores you - and he doesn't yet realize how blessed he is to have you as his dad.

Happy first Father's Day, B! We love you.

Also, a very, very happy Father's Day to my precious dad, Mac's Grandpa, and Bradley's wonderful father, Mac's Papa. We're all so blessed to have you in our lives! xoxo

June 18, 2010

Because It's Friday...

Just because it's Friday - and also because few things are cuter than a dancing baby!

I'd love to see this little man in Zumba; I bet everyone would really step up their game! He could definitely samba circles around me...

The moves he busts out starting around the 2:15 mark absolutely kill me. Still in diapers and already way more skilled at shaking his hips than I'll ever be. What a killer workout, too - he must have quads of steel!

Enjoy - and happy weekend!

June 17, 2010

Supper at the Smiths

Mac is not a big boy, per se, but we are thankful he's such a voracious eater. I've come to realize that my son has the metabolism I've always wanted: he eats and eats and eats but it never shows up on his thighs.

That's only true in the figurative sense, though. Literally, everything Mac eats shows up on his thighs. And his face and his hands and his feet, even. I've taken to feeding him redneck-style, stripped down to his diaper. And he loves it!

In case any of you think I'm plum crazy (or just a bit trashy) for this new nightly ritual, I caught a bit of photographic evidence this evening that might sway you. If only you could see the delectable mix of drool and baby food that had slid down into his every little roll and crevice...

Are you planning to feed me or just take pictures??

After a particularly feisty session with his entree, sweet potatoes and chicken, Mac really let it fly with his "dessert," green beans. (Mmm, vegetables for dessert. You're so jealous.) The results required an immediate trip to his favorite spot in the house: his whale tub.

Even he was impressed at his mess-making achievement.

I don't plan on feeding Mac sans clothes forever; maybe once he's learned some table manners he can keep his john johns on at the table. 'Til then, though, we're supping redneck-style and loving it...

P.S. Happy, happy 32nd anniversary to my wonderful parents!! xoxo

June 16, 2010

The Story We'll Laugh About Someday

I'm thrilled that Ashley's mom captured the notorious mid-dedication outfit change pictured above. I remember her walking by, snapping a picture and promising me that we'd all laugh about this in years to come.

Mac's Mimi and I were too busy snapping up a storm to laugh then. Four days later, though, I've set aside the moment of totally unnecessary panic and can smile about it already.

If only someone had captured him spitting up on his second outfit too - and then sporting a white onesie for the remainder of the afternoon. So much for a future brother wearing the same sweet outfit to be dedicated!

If we didn't have stories like these, though, what would stand out in our minds in forty years?

Wordless Wednesday: A Silly Pair

June 14, 2010

Terms of Endearment Postscript

After our discussion about terms of endearment, I've been a lot more aware of nicknames tossed about in my presence. A few thoughts:

My mom managed to avoid calling me or Mac by our given names the entire afternoon on Saturday. There were many "sweet pea," "baby boy," and "Annie" references, but the day eased my conscience as came to realize my love of nicknames is undoubtedly genetic.

That must explain why I called Bradley "Boo" in front of approximately 4o people Saturday and our entire small group the next day. I didn't have the heart to bring up the deeper To Kill A Mockingbird meaning, so now I'm just using thug-style pet names for my husband in public. We should record a track on 50 Cent's next album about it.

I called Mac "Monkey" all day at the lake Sunday because "Macky" and "Maggie" sound too much alike. Mac grabbed a handful of precious Maggie's hair and when I tried to correct him, the poor doll thought I was admonishing her. Sweet thing! So "Monkey" and "Monk-Monk" (cringe, I know) were my only substitutes.

Our families know men who have shunned their God-given names (James, each of them) for Jiggy and Skeeter, respectively. I have a great-uncle who goes by Junior well into his seventies. Uncle Junior is beyond delightful, but it never occurred to me until it came time to address wedding invitations that he might have an actual name.

B has an Aunt Bunny, which doesn't even faze me after growing up in a state filled with ladies called Way-Way, Weesie, Cricket, Cookie, Jiffy, Mitten, Boo and Lolly.

Also, Bradley has met a man called Puddin'. This is not a joke. Next time you hear me refer to Mac as "Monkey," just you remember that...

Weekend Recap

On Saturday we celebrated the dedication of Mac and Kerri Grace. Our babies were surrounded and prayed for by our families, friends and small group members. It was so meaningful and I loved the chance to celebrate our little ones and thank God for each of their lives.

I had been checking off a lengthy to do list in my head all week for this one quick hour. I'd envisioned a simple, heartfelt little get-together dedicating our beautiful babies to the Lord, and us to raising them to serve Him.

While it was just what we'd hoped, I was too abuzz with what "needed" to be done, our guests' happiness and comfort, Mac's fussiness (heat + excitement + 100 arms squeezing him) and the fact that he'd spit up all over both of the sweet outfits I packed; I didn't let myself enjoy the celebration.

It had been my prayer that I would remain focused on the true intent of the afternoon, but my list-making, anxious tendencies got the best of me and I was a spinning top for a moment there. Hopefully it wasn't apparent to everyone who attended, but I was definitely a Martha, not a Mary, that afternoon. It's been my one regret since.

Halfway through the service, Mac needed to be changed because he'd soaked his outfit through with baby food. I was in such a hurry to do it during a prayer that he wasn't even snapped up when we got back to the front. Essentially, he was wearing a dress for his portion of the program. Oops!

Undoubtedly confused at all of the hullabaloo, Mac cried through most of the prayers his two grandfathers said over him. I couldn't quiet him or tune him out to listen and worried (needlessly) that everyone else was frustrated by the noise.

I stressed about a photograph of Kerri Grace that disappeared during the slideshow and about the sweat glow I was developing from the afternoon heat. I worried that I was blocking the view of the other family in attendance and, while doing so, stood directly in the way of someone trying to get to her elderly mom. I fretted that Mac was throwing up and feverish - could it be a virus? (More likely just the result of a hot, hot June afternoon and too much jiggling around.) By the end of the day, our Macky was in a white onesie and even that was, shall we say, splattered. I even worried I was worrying too much. Whew.

On a day I should have soaked up, start to finish, I was focused on inconsequential concerns and things I couldn't control. This is what happens when I put the focus on myself and my own expectations and take my eyes off of what really matters; in this case, a chance for thanksgiving and celebration.

Thankfully, everyone else was calm and fully understood (unlike me) that babies cry, outfits get changed mid-service and slideshows have a mind of their own.

The food was delicious, the freshly cut hydrangeas were beautiful, our pastor's words were just what we needed to challenge ourselves as parents and our babies were the perfect, precious little people God created them to be.

We passed Mac around and chatted with our guests, but Bradley and I didn't take time to post for a single picture with Mac. On his dedication day! Double oops.

My parents got some good pictures but I may act on a friend's suggestion to dress back up in our outfits from the day (assuming I can get the baby food stains out of Mac's ensembles on my second try) and take some shots of all three of us for his baby book. I won't tell if you won't!

Sunday morning we had a great church service and then drove to Lake Keowee to join our small group at the lake. The day flew by in a blur of eating, talking, boating, jet-skiing, water gun contests and splashing around.

Mac wore his new bathing suit and got into the lake for the very first time. I wouldn't say he loved it. As excited as we were about his float and its "tent" cover, Mac enjoys his bath far more than the lake at this point. We played in the baby pool instead.

Mac hanging out with Dad and Maggie after a nap (for Mac) and a boat ride (for B and Maggie).

More time with friends and a beautiful day on the water made for a perfect end to our weekend!

Now I'm catching up on everything that went undone while we were out and I'm promising myself to fight my Martha-like tendencies next time a special occasion comes around...

Hope your weekends were wonderful, too!

June 11, 2010

What?! It's Friday Already?

Where has this week gone?! My to do list has not seen as many check marks as I'd like; between our mid-week adventure to the pediatrician and preparations for Saturday, the days have flown by faster than I realized.

I'm thrilled it's the weekend, though, and am excited to see so many of our family and friends at Mac and Kerri Grace's dedication tomorrow. After church Sunday morning, we're heading to Lake Keowee to spend the afternoon with our small group and introduce Mac to the water.

Hope y'all have similarly fun plans for the weekend! Did this week fly by for you too, or is it just me and Mac who are sporting this shocked expression?

June 9, 2010

Love Notes and Mac's Flying Leap

Notes are my favorite way to document personal history. I have shoebox-sized tubs of notes from middle school, high school and college. Notes of encouragement, notes of "this Latin class is boring" and "my new boyfriend is so cute." I love peeking into the past by reading those notes!

The history of my relationship with B is kept in a box of notes, too. My first note to him was a thank you for having a group of our friends over to watch the Super Bowl just after he moved to Columbia from Clemson. I'd recently set him up with a friend of mine and we concocted a reason to have a party at his place so they could have a chance to hang out. (The irony!)

He kept that note, in its envelope, along with every letter that followed. (And there were many...) Our grandkids will probably enjoy a written record of our getting to know each other; that's my hope, at least. It's full of timely references to the little, everyday details of our lives we're bound to forget over the years.

I still keep all of our anniversary and Christmas cards, too; my absolute favorite is the Valentine's Day card from Bradley just days after we found out we were expecting. Definitely history-worthy.

Not all of our written exchanges are meant to be kept for posterity's sake, though. Yesterday Bradley got a terse email from me, as his cell phone wasn't getting reception in Podunk, South Carolina where he was looking over a new project site. Thank goodness his BlackBerry works no matter where he roams.

We'd been emailing about dinner details (the excitement of married life!) when I wrote one last email, typing with one hand and rocking a crying baby with the other.

It read: "Babe, Mac was strapped into his swing but fell out somehow. Hanging by his arm with head on the ground. Happened like four minutes ago. Leaving for doctor now. I think he's fine but want to be safe. Please call when you can. Love you!"

B's white truck was on the interstate headed our way in no time! Thankfully, Mac is absolutely fine after his fearless swan dive from the swing to the hardwood floor. The boy was upside down when I got to him. He nearly gave his mom a heart attack! Mac adores his swing and the view out of our dining room windows, but I think he's officially outgrown it.

Hopefully this is the last note of the kind I'll have to write to Bradley. Let's just pretend that boys get calmer and less rough and tumble as they grow up, ok? I'm not ready to imagine anymore bumps or bruises...

Wordless Wednesday: Eight Months Old

June 8, 2010

Terms of Endearment

Growing up in the South, most everyone I knew had a nickname. Our home is no exception; few people are called by their real names here.

Those who've known me for the greater part of my life still call me Annie. Bradley has always been Brad to his extended family and hometown friends. I often call my best friends K (or K. Dub) and E. And little Mac? He never had a chance.

His given name is McNeal; a significant plus to such a name is the vast selection of nicknames one can derive from it: McNugget, Mac-Mac, Mac Attack, Mac-Man and my personal favorite, Macky. His dad has asked that I stop calling him Macky by his second birthday, but I have a feeling it'll always roll off my tongue.

I worried for a time that Mac wouldn't meet the developmental milestone of recognizing and responding to his name around six months. How could he possibly do that when he has so many aliases? Thankfully, Mac and Macky seem to do the trick; he turns his head whenever his little ears pick up on those two.

When Macky doesn't come out of my mouth, "monkey" is my second go-to term of endearment for our little man. I'm not sure if it was a slip of the tongue early on, but monkey and (cringe of embarassment) monk-monk pop out when I'm trying to calm him. It works every time, so I am shameless in my use of those words around the house.

The problem comes in when I use these sweet terms of affection outside of our little abode. When visiting my parents the other weekend, I ran smack into my dad and apologized with, "Oops! Sorry, monkey!" A friend called my cell phone the other day and I answered with an enthusiastic, "Monkey!! Hi!" I hope people tune it out, because this habit may not be going anywhere. My brain now substitutes monkey for sweetie, baby, friend, girl or any other affectionate noun.

Bradley's even gotten called monkey a few times, though typically I stick with B or babe. Dear has always sounded elderly to me and words like honey or darling seem a little forced. B isn't quite the snookums or shmoopy pants type, either, if you can't tell.

Before we started dating, I saved his number in my phone under Boo Radley, from a favorite book we have in common. (Take a wild guess.) Over the years, it's been shortened to Boo. I fight my instinct to call him Boo when others are around, because it sounds a little different from me than it does from the rappers who use the same term. If you ever hear me answer B's phone call, though, I typically say, "Hi, Boo!" before I even know I've done it. In public I do my best to curb this habit but I bet half of the Upstate thinks I'm Jay Z's woman on the side.

I only ever call B "Bradley" if I'm panicked or we're in a crowded room. If possible, I aim to call him by his God-given name when there are others around; it seems like the least embarrassing option for him. I doubt men are dying to be called by cute nicknames while surrounded by other guys.

Sometimes, though, you've just gotta let the terms of endearment fly. My friend Sarah visited us a while back and, no less than an hour after arriving, said, "I've gotta be honest. There are a whole lot of 'babes' being thrown around in this car." She was right.

I try to censor myself in crowds, but when you're as accustomed to terms of endearment and nicknames as we are, hearing your full name almost sounds like a reprimand. In parents' house, when Mom calls you by all three names (or four, in my brother's case), it's never followed by anything good.

B still laughs about the time he called me by name from another room, hoping to get my attention. He did, and I quickly yelled back, "Don't you call me Anne unless you mean it!!" My heart drops a little when I hear it from him - not that I don't like my name, just that within our four walls it's hardly ever used. It's all about context...

If I address you as "monkey" in an email or face to face, please know I'm not likening you to a primate. It means you're as adorable as our Macky and I lump you into a category of friends worthy of such a distinction.

Do you call your loved ones by any unique terms of endearment? (My parents call their Westie Cotton by the nickname "Boog," short for Booger, all the time. And I know at least one other new mom who calls her son "monkey," so don't be ashamed to spill!!)

**By the way, the many quotation marks in this post's first iteration made my eyes cross. I took most of them out because they cluttered up every paragraph! Sorry if that makes things a little confusing; my inner grammarian and my visual perfectionist are fighting over the best way to handle this.

June 7, 2010

Menu Monday

Monday: Grilled chicken with my own marinade*, steamed veggies from B's garden and a test run of ooey-gooey peanut butter chocolate brownies**.

Tuesday: Sauteed mahi mahi, steamed veggies and baked sweet potatoes

Wednesday: Chicken tacos with Monday's leftovers, Spanish rice and salad

Thursday: Roast, green beans and mashed potatoes (a.k.a. A Man's Meal)

Friday: Homemade pizzas with garden veggies (Yes, B has that many! Who knew I married a farmer?)

Saturday: Mac's Dedication!! I don't know what we'll be eating for dinner, but those who join us will enjoy lemon bars, the aforementioned brownies, pound cake, pimiento cheese sandwiches, fruit and a variety of other goodies that are TBD.

*Our dinner guests the other weekend raved about it; we'll see if I can repeat the miracle tonight when it's just us...

** Don't judge - they're for Macky's dedication on Saturday. I don't have a tremendously successful track record with new recipes, so I'm giving them a whirl now to be sure they work out. (Ask me about the Derby Day Bourbon Ball disaster of 2010.) Plus, they're from Cooking Light!

Two Reasons I Love June

And also two reasons I love B, who cut these from our his garden yesterday and put them out to make me smile. Hydrangeas in my favorite pitcher? Roses in a glass? Why not?!

I have two black thumbs, so I am in awe of what Bradley can grow - baskets full of tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers, broccoli, plus flowers to brighten our table. (I also furrow my brow a bit. How is it that I kill every plant I touch, but he can make them flourish?)

Regardless of how he worked his growing magic, I'm grateful. Catching a glimpse every now and then reminds me of B's thoughtfulness - and of the upside to the heat this time of year.

Hope you're all having a wonderful Monday!!

June 6, 2010

Praying for Cohen: It's Go Time!

If you have a moment, please remember to pray for baby Cohen and his family this evening. (I blogged about his family here; you can read his mom Megan's blog here.)

He's going to be born tomorrow (what an amazing sentence!) and I know they could use lots of prayers and encouragement!

Singin' on a Sunday

I heard a song this morning for the first time and haven't been able to stop singing it since! The lyrics are so powerful and I want to share them with you.

You thought of us before the world began to breathe
You knew our names before we came to be
You saw the very day we fall away from you
And how desperately we need to be redeemed

Lord Jesus
Come lead us
We're desperate for your touch

Oh great and mighty One
With one desire we come
That You would reign that You would reign in us
We're offering up our lives
A living sacrifice
That You would reign that You would reign in us

Spirit of the living God fall fresh again
Come search our hearts and purify our lives
We need Your perfect love; we need Your discipline
We're lost unless You guide us with your light

Lord Jesus
Come lead us
We're desperate for your touch

Oh great and mighty One
With one desire we come
That You would reign that You would reign in us
We're offering up our lives
A living sacrifice
That You would reign that You would reign in us

We cry out for Your life to revive us, cry out
For Your love to define us, cry out
For Your mercy to keep us
Blameless until You return

Oh great and mighty One
With one desire we come
That You would reign that You would reign in us
We're offering up our lives
A living sacrifice
That You would reign that You would reign in us


So reign, please reign in us
Come purify our hearts
We need Your touch
Come cleanse us like a flood
And set us out
So the world may know You reign, You reign in us

Singing this song as a church this morning brought out the crybaby tender heart in me; it felt like a corporate prayer and a heartfelt request.

I hope you find it as meaningful as I did... And I really hope you're humming it as much as I am, if only so I know someone's joining me in my solo Sunday singin'.

Hope your Sunday's been wonderful!

June 3, 2010

To Know or Not to Know

Erin at the Blue-Eyed Bride has posted a thoughtful question about pregnancy that can be applied to a variety of situations in our lives. Do you prefer to know or not to know?

I'm someone who fights anxiety when anticipating a momentous event, whether it's a move, a new job or an unusual social situation. It's exactly the way I ride a rollercoaster: the whole way up I'm panicking and praying; the moment I hear "click" and it points downward, my worries disappear and I can enjoy the ride.

Thankfully, pregnancy was the one time in my life where I didn't experience anxiety. God lifted that burden and I knew absolutely that everything would be fine. This isn't to say that I knew the outcome would be just as I'd hoped, but I trusted we were being taken care of. It helped that I could see Philippians 4:6-7 at my desk all day long; reading it to myself often put any fears in perspective. It was an unspeakable gift to have that peace.

I let go of my anxiety, but I also did my research. I've always been the girl who overprepares; I arrive early, check things off of my post-it note reminders, pack a back-up outfit, bring extra copies, have an outline in hand and toss a few jokes around to lighten the mood.

When it comes to things that are out of my hands, though, I try to dial back the overpreparation. When I found myself reading ahead in the What to Expect book, I could barely turn the post-partum pages - my hands were practically numb with nerves. A definite sign to stop reading!

A happy medium between ignorance and anxiety is where I prefer to be. I want to be armed with basic knowledge of what can (and usually does) happen so I’m not panicked if that occurs.

When my mom found out she had skin cancer a few years back, my closest friend (hallelujah for friends in the medical field!) called to talk me through the possibilities. I asked for worst case scenario and she said, "Chemo. I just said chemo. If you're still breathing, you can handle what's more than likely going to happen here." And I did - so did our whole family. An overview was enough for me to feel prepared but still trust that there would be a good outcome.

I don’t, however, need to know gory details about what (statistically) is unlikely to occur and what I can’t control simply by worrying about it. No need to stay up nights over rare complications!

I trust the Lord, I trust my doctors, I trust the opinions of those who love me and, for the most part, I trust my instincts. A year ago, a dear friend reminded me that Mac had been created by One who loved him more than even we could. There are no better hands than the ones Mac was in. What a comfort! And just the truth I needed to hear.

I didn't put my head in the sand about the relatively undignified parts of delivery and post-partum days, but I tried not to dwell on it either. As my mom would say, "Why borrow trouble? We'll cross that bridge when we get there."

The first few post-baby week was a baptism by fire, for sure. There were ice packs and medical products I don't prefer to pull out again until there's a new baby in our home. But I was grateful that it was short-term, that we had a healthy baby for our "troubles," and that I was being taken care of, as always.

I'm the world's biggest crybaby and I need more sleep than any grown-up should ever get. Yet I survived! Through a power bigger than me and a desire to care for our new, tiny man - I survived.

So can you, in any situation, whether you choose to know or not to know.

To answer to my own question, I'd say I want to know everything possible about financial, career and social situations. Medical things? Give me a thorough overview and let me trust others for the rest. Call me a little girl, but it's worked for me so far. No "borrowing trouble" here.

What about you? Where do you fall along the spectrum of wanting or needing to know?

June 2, 2010

For the Love of Pregnant Ladies

This time of year, many of our refrigerators are sprinkled with sweet, pastel invitations to shower a mom-to-be. A wonderful impulse, don't you think? Showering someone with attention and joy?

The problem comes when people's eagerness to meet a baby-to-be collides smack into their desire to "forewarn" a woman of what's to come, speak "candidly" with her about past pregnancy or childbirthing/rearing experiences and provide her some "straight talk" advice.

Our moms were right; we really should think before we speak. To anyone. But when you speak to a woman who's fortunate enough to be expecting a child, whether her first or her fifth, please put Mom's advice to into practice.

Take whatever you want to say, roll it around in your brain (not off your tongue!) for a moment, then filter it through the lens of the hopeful, hormonal, exhausted but excited pregnant woman. Is it necessary for her to hear this? Is it encouraging?

People say all kinds of things to pregnant women. The universality of the experience, I think, makes sane human beings drop all decorum and common courtesy and say whatever occurs to them. That might be appropriate if you are the sister or best friend of the woman in question and she asks you for the nitty gritty or your deepest thoughts. For the general public, however, there are a few rules we should all keep in mind as we encounter these brave, blessed women.

1. Let's only comment on her appearance to say, "You look fantastic!" or "You look so very happy! What a glow." Should the urge to say anything else pop up, let's fight it down like the whack-a-mole game at Chuck E. Cheese. Yes, use that much vigor. (See examples of what not to say here.)

2. Offer only the most brief, positive and simple nuggets of faux advice. Nothing she'll find in What to Expect; only thoughtful, encouraging tidbits. These seem to be the hardest to find the further along a woman gets. Maybe we could try: "Pamper yourself - you deserve it!" "Rest for you is rest for the baby. Don't feel guilty about taking the elevator!" "Being pregnant means you're working harder in that chair than a grown man climbing Mt. Everest. Don't say you aren't getting enough done!"

3. If she comes to ask a question about your experience, be honest. Be empathetic. Be mindful that you're not an M.D. The phrases "you can do this," "you will be a wonderful mother," "you're in good hands," "I'm so proud of you" or "you're already doing an extraordinary job" cannot be overused.

4. No need to scare her with horror stories of month-long labors, female pattern baldness, flat butt syndrome, the loss of your expansive bosom, your inability to get a "good night's sleep" in "decades" or anything else that comes to mind about post-pregnancy life. We may think we're cautioning her; she'll undoubtedly just feel overwhelmed. That precious bundle is coming whether you terrify her or not, so let's leave what comes next to develop on its own.

5. We should applaud any and all sacrifices she's making. Cutting caffeine, aspartame, alcohol, Tylenol, wild dance parties, fake tanning, sky-high heels, rollercoasters, noxious nail salon fumes, heavy lifting, whatever the case may be - these all take thought and some measure of self-restraint. Offer to help with that box, keep her company while everyone else goes out for a smoke break (blech) or grab her a Sprite next time you're out.

But let's please not pressure her to do anything she'd like to avoid. I was called a "Cautious Camille" for turning down glass upon glass of wine at a client event. By a superior. Who continually noted my "inability to embrace moderation" during pregnancy. Are we encouraging pregnant women to drink now?

It's one thing to leave the door open for a doctor's approval of caffeine, medication, or even a glass of wine at the end of pregnancy. We all have our own (hopefully educated) opinions, but that's between you, your husband and your doctor. To urge someone to consume something they don't need or want? And mock their decisions to boot? I really don't know what to say to that, though I passionately wished for a witty response at the time.

6. Understand that everyone's experience is different. Every time. Even experienced moms find a second time around can be vastly different than their first. Share what was true for you, but don't push any viewpoint onto her. Acknowledge that your opinions aren't hard and fast rules. No woman should be brought to tears by someone pouring out her soft drink, lecturing her for vaccination choices or picking apart her every action.

7. Finally, the rule that triggered this post. My best friend will be on bedrest for the remainder of her pregnancy, what we're hoping will be around seven or eight weeks. (Keep cooking, Wynn!) I was incredibly thankful that my doctor didn't have to prescribe bedrest until the very end of my pregnancy; it was just a week and a half before I went into labor. Many women do not have this experience.

Please try not to tell them to "enjoy the rest" while they "can get it." Understand that many circumstances leading to bedrest can be scary, anxiety-inducing and even painful. It's hard to enjoy something that is a direct result of medical complications for you or your child.

It's even more painful to imagine that there's no light at the end of the tunnel, that things will only feel more difficult and burdensome once the baby arrives. Yikes. Why do all those baby shower cards wax poetic about the tender moments of motherhood if it's all so darn sleepless and awful?! Perhaps a better response might be to say you're sorry, you hope things go beautifully from here on out and you'd love to bring over a meal.

Ladies, what are your thoughts? I wrote a shorter, simpler version of this PSA in my third trimester. At the time, I was fighting the suspicion that the scary stories I'd been told would all happen to me. Encouragement and compliments were music to my ears.

On the "other side" of pregnancy, I find that I'm protective of my expecting friends and have even more passion for this subject than before. (Hence the wordiness!)

I'd love your perspective. What do you do/say in these situations?


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