Tag: God

Rough Night – Healing Your Child’s Soul

I sat on the uncomfortable rocking chair around 3 in the morning after the rough night. My son arched his back as if he couldn’t get comfortable. His head lifted away from my chest. Occasionally it would bounce back, and the cool tears on his face would wet my skin. After just a minute or two, the gas slipped up out of his stomach and his neck slowly relaxed as he rested his weary head on my chest. It got heavier and heavier and so did his eyelids.

rough night with an infant, mom cradling

After 4 hours of trying to help him, he finally succumbed to sleep, trapping me with 24 lbs of squishy baby weight. And in spite of my exhaustion, I sat unmoving and just held him. My cheek pressed against his fuzzy warm head. His breathing, remnants of sobs abandoned. My precious boy nuzzled against me. It was my reward for my toil, so I enjoyed every special second. Thirty minutes of quiet snuggles on a squeaky, unyielding rocker. I watched the shadows and breathed deeply. There aren’t many moments like this. It was just me and my boy.

At 3:30 in the morning I finally slipped between my sheets and my eyelids slammed shut.

My Rough Night

The Likely Cause

That day, we had gone to his six month appointment. We found out he was off the charts for weight and pretty big in all other growth aspects. And to top it off, he has got a giant head that comes from my side of the family. If you ever wonder why some hats are so big, it’s for people like me and my son.

grayson at the doctor, cause of the rough night

He got two shots. I didn’t think anything of it. With his first couple of rounds he had been fussy, but nothing I couldn’t handle. My daughter had never had many ill effects from the shots.

I put him to bed around 7 just like any other night. He fussed a little more before he fell asleep, but soon he was breathing out Zs.

 

I just had to…

As a matter of safety, I usually take the sound machine out of his room at night after the loud noises in the house have disappeared. He has a bad habit of putting a blanket on top of his face and if I’m asleep and he’s having a hard time breathing, I want to be able to hear immediately.

beginning of the rough night, he wakes up

My daughter was in bed, my company had left and I was about to sleep as well. So, like every night, I snuck into his room and took it out. Usually he moves and then goes right back to sleep.

On this particular rough night, he moved and then woke up.

Quick Fix

All right, this wouldn’t be a problem. I’d just give him a bottle, top him off for the night and that way I made sure we all got a good night sleep.

He drank about half of it and I thought that he probably wasn’t hungry because he’s been sleeping through the night for a couple of days now.

 

The 4 Hours

The rest of the four hours that made up my rough night are a little hazy. It all blurs together now. I know that some things happened during that time. Here is a list of all courses of action in no particular order:

  • Gave him Tylenol.
  • Rocked him.
  • Held him.
  • Sang “I am a child of God”
  • Left his room about 15 times.
  • Entered his room about 15 times.
  • Sang “I like to look for Rainbows”
  • Sat on the floor by his crib and held his hand while he tried to settle down.

  • Let him play with my face.
  • Sat on the couch and the living room while he looked at the lights.
  • Let him lay in mommy’s bed. (Austin was out of town.)
  • Burped him. And again and again and again. So many burps.
  • So much spit up.
  • Bottle attempts 1, 2 and 3.
  • Wrapped him in a semi-swaddle

  • Pacifier.
  • Reached under the bed for all of the pacifiers he had chucked by the wall.
  • Wiped his tears.
  • Gave him Ibuprofen.
  • Caressed his head.
  • Tried to let him ‘cry it out’. (I can only last about 15 minutes at the most.)
  • Bounced him.
  • Sang “Down in the River” over and over and over again.
  • Prayed for any possible relief about every 10 minutes.

There might be more. I don’t know. It was a rough night.

 

The Unexpected Reward

I know I am not alone in the ‘rough night’ department. Most parents get to experience this joy at some point or another. Most of the time, you are only rewarded with an hour or two of much needed sleep.

But sometimes, the world stands still and all is quiet as your little one finally falls asleep in your arms. The whimpers subside and you get a small glimpse at how much your baby must love you. His face is pressed against you, cheek smashed against your skin. The deeper he falls into sleep, the more his breathing levels out.

Only you could heal his whole soul. Not only have you labored to help his little body feel better, but you also kept his spirit full. He knows that you are there for him and that you love him and have taken the time to understand him.

You heal his whole soul regardless of whether or not he falls asleep on you. But if you are lucky enough to feel your trusting little one nuzzle in, you can take the time to pat yourself on the back. Because you did it. Even if it took you until 3 or 6 in the morning, you did it. You healed your baby’s soul.

 

More Rough Nights to Come

So I hope I can remember when I have another rough night and many more, that every time I choose their needs over mine I heal their soul. I heal their physical hurts and I show them for the rest of their life, that they are worth me climbing out of my bed.

And in the quiet moments when I have evidence in my arms of how much my children appreciate it, I hope I can remember that I am doing okay. I healed my baby’s soul and I think I healed mine too.

 

I’ve had many a rough night with my toddler too.

Baby Girl Birth Story – My Sweet, Bright Eyed Siena

Having a baby girl is hard enough. As a new mom, you have to worry about the last trimester, the delivery, after the baby is born and everything else that goes into having a baby.

However, throw in ‘move across the world’ and you have a whole new mess of problems to add to the list of ‘Things to Solve’.

 

Uterus Urgency

Austin got his masters at Duke University. We loved being in North Carolina, and the second half of his program was in Kunshan, China. Well, I was due to have a baby just 5 weeks before we were supposed to be leaving. Yep. You could have called us insane and you would have been correct. We didn’t even know how insane we were.

waiting in waiting room
When we first arrived in the waiting room.

We naively thought, “what perfect timing!” We’ll have the baby in December and then hop on a plane in January. However, aside from other aspects of our naivety, like being first time parents, we failed to realize that we wouldn’t be able to get her passport, visa or plane tickets until she was actually born.

Austin had to be in school in China on a certain day and as her due date approached we realized the timing might not be so ideal after all. We started panicking. It takes 6 weeks to get a passport… We have to get the Visa after that… So, there isn’t enough time. Fortunately there is an expediting option, which almost wasn’t fast enough.

The Study

Then, a tender mercy. Duke University happened to be doing a research study where they would induce your labor at 39 weeks. The purpose of the study was to determine if delivering at 39 weeks was actually more beneficial for both the baby and the mom. After 39 weeks the baby is fully developed, and history seemed to suggest that the mom’s health would decline after 39 weeks.

Unfortunately there was no way to guarantee we would be in the induction group. Because the study needed a control group, only 50% of the women in the study would be induced. But we decided to try our luck with the lottery. And another miracle, we were selected to be a part of the induction group. Hooray! Our induction was scheduled for December 9th.

 

No Surprises

Because we had a set day, it was very easy now for both of our moms to fly out to see the birth.

me and my sweet moms
I love our moms.

The ninth was a Tuesday so both of them flew in on Sunday. Austin took all of his finals on Monday and we were all set for our little girl to join us.

Tuesday morning I got up early and put on some make up, curled my hair: the works. I was in a rare situation where I could plan to look cute for semi-spontaneous event. Why would I not take advantage of such a thing? Obviously we were going to take pictures!

 

Excited Grandmas!

We arrived at the hospital at 7:15 in the morning and park in the parking garage (no valet parking if your birth is not an emergency…understandable). We took the elevator up to the tunnel, where Lori, Austin’s mom excitedly announced to the whole elevator. “I’m going to be a grandma today!”

The ladies on the elevator squealed with excitement. I smiled too. My baby girl would be here soon! Clearly I had no idea what was in store for me.

 

Waiting Room

We got to the maternity floor and were told to wait. So we waited… and we waited… and we waited…

waiting in waiting room
Growing a little impatient…

The thing about being induced, is it is not as exciting for everyone else. They can just put you on the back burner while all of the actual labors take precedence, which again, makes sense. My induction was scheduled for 8:00 am. We didn’t even get out of the waiting room until noon.

bored waiting in waiting room
BORED OUT OF MY MIND…

 

Waiting in the Delivery Room

Finally, it was my turn. Then the excitement rose again. All right baby girl, that was a long wait, but now… now we’re on our way.

get this induction going
It’s go time!

I donned my nice hospital get-up and the nurses came in and do their thing. Soon, Doctor Nieves came in. Yay! We finally get to know where I’m at and what the next steps are. So, he checks out how things are going. I’m dilated to a 2 and was like 80% effaced. And I’m thinking, ‘wow, 80%. I’m doing pretty good.’

last pic before baby girl is born
We’re both excited!

Then I found out he’s going to stick in a miso pill. Basically it is supposed to help get things going. So, he put in the pill and then we waited some more. The nurses tell us to get up and walk around to help get the labor going. We did. We walked and walked and walked.

walking to get baby girl out
I went through a lot of those waters.
through the fish tank walking around
We thought this giant fish tank was pretty cool.
talking with husband
Love of my Life

And then we started the “badger dance” (video to come). And pretty soon, we’re laughing and being silly until around 6:00 in the evening.

laughing with austin
He always makes me laugh.

At this point, Austin decided it would be funny if he laid on the bed. So, he laid there, my mom laid on the couch and his mom took the nice chair and I sat on the little fold out chair. We thought it would be funny to get our nurses reaction if I was on the hard chair and Austin had taken over the hospital bed. Well, it was also around this time that I could feel my labor actually start to kick in.

our funny joke
Our funny, funny, funny joke…

 

Labor Contractions

Now I was feeling contractions. At first they were just uncomfortable. And the nurse had said she would be back just a minute prior to our hilarious prank we were going to pull. So, we waited in those positions. And we waited… and we waited… She didn’t come back for about an hour.

And I was sitting on this hard chair and felt like I was dying a little more each minute that passed. Where on earth had the nurse disappeared to? Someone better be having a baby!

And by 7:00, she finally came through the door. We did get the reaction we wanted and caught it on video. But, by then, I was really feeling the contractions. She started checking on things. I tell her I want an epidural. I know… I’m a baby. The doctor came in and checked me out. I was dilated to a 3 and fully effaced. A 3?! That’s it! This is what a 3 feels like? But, my labor was in full swing. I was having regular contractions.

They let the anesthesiologist know that I am ready for an epidural and about an hour later, I get one. It was a little scary getting one, but the relief it provided was unparalleled. They had to readjust it a little bit because it was only working on one side at first. I’m glad I asked when I did, because the time from when you ask for an epidural to when you actually get one is quite awhile.

sleeping before baby girl is born

Water Breaking

After that, I felt great. In fact it was so great that it surprised me when I felt our baby girl kick rather violently and suddenly there was a gushing. Stuff was coming out!

I couldn’t stop it. It was a force that stopped for nothing. Once I thought the gushing was over, it gushed some more. My water broke. I was glad they didn’t have to break it for me. It was cool having it just happen.

That was exciting. Now we were all pumped up again! This happened around 10:00 pm.

 

Nausea

The epidural was still working, until I started feeling nauseous. Really nauseous. I woke up and couldn’t move from the bed, but I knew something will be coming up and out of me quickly.

I told Austin I have to throw up and was panicking because I had nothing to catch it with. BLEH… all over the left side of the bed and the floor. I looked over at Austin and he had a trashcan or something that I could have used if he had grabbed it ten seconds earlier.

I let the nurse know. She got me all cleaned up and then informed me they had drugs for that too. Really? Awesome! I did not want to spend the whole labor throwing up. I had done enough of that during my pregnancy. She warned me that it would make me sleepy. Double bonus! That meant I’d be able to sleep better.

 

No More Juice!

Not necessarily double bonus. Sometime in the early morning I woke up in agony. I could feel my contractions completely. We pushed the button for the nurse. I was pushing my pain button like nobody’s business trying to get more of the epidural juice into my body, but to no avail.

resting before baby girl

Thirty minutes later the anesthesiologist came in and said that the epidural had run out. He refills it and I am soon feeling much better again. Now despite the fact that I am sleepy, I am insistent on remembering to push the button, because I know I don’t want to feel that EVER again.

 

Mini Date

That night, Austin and I watched Pitch Perfect and Here Comes the Boom when I couldn’t sleep. It was fun just being with him. Our moms had gone to sleep upstairs somewhere. And we got to just hang out me and him before we got one more added to our family.

At some point, he had to help lift me up higher in the bed because my legs were completely useless and I had slipped and was very uncomfortable. And you would think that I could lift my body with my little arms, but my body was the biggest body it’s ever been. It was like trying to move a dead dinosaur.

 

Pushing Time!

Then around noon on the 10th, (yeah we thought we were going to have her on the 9th… laughable now) I was told that I was dilated to a 9 and we should get to start pushing soon. So exciting!

I was thinking, well, my mom’s whole labor with me lasted 5 hours and she only pushed for like half an hour. We’re going to meet our baby girl soon! So, the doctor, who is now a different doctor and for the life of me I can’t remember her name, starts getting things ready for the pushing part of the journey.

I started pushing around 12:45. The doctor told me that I could be pushing for anywhere between a half an hour to three hours. Three hours? I thought my baby girl would just come out. I started pushing and pushing and pushing.

It was so exhausting. I pushed and pushed and every time it felt like something incredible should be happening but I was seeing no fruits for my labors. I was so tired.

pushing out baby girl
You know that feeling when you want to cry, but even that is too much…

At some point the doctor said that I could take a break. I didn’t even know you could take a break in the middle of pushing. Wouldn’t baby girl suffocate in the birth canal? But then I remember that’s what the umbilical cord is for. And in retrospect, she probably hadn’t moved much at all. I wasn’t making a whole lot of progress.

 

Come on Baby Girl!

All right, it was time to start again. I pushed some more. Then I started feeling severe pain. *Contractions so intense that it felt like lightening zapping through my uterus and culminating right between my hips. Bearing down intensified the pain and then they wanted me to hold it there while the pain ripped through me.

I kept pushing my pain button but nothing was coming and nothing was helping. At some point, I accepted that the epidural was not going to help me through it. And then I also had to accept that the only way to get the baby out was to greet the pain instead of escape it. So, I focused on bearing down in a way that intensified the pain the most and those were the pushes that everyone shouted, “that’s such a good push!” “You’re doing so great!” “Keep doing them like that one.”

I did it again and again and again. And two and a half hours from the time we started pushing, at 3:19 pm, our little Siena was finally born. As soon as she was out, I remember collapsing on the bed with the most relief I think it is possible for the human body to experience.

baby girl brand new!

*I have since learned that they most likely turned off my epidural so that I could ‘feel the contractions’. NEVER AGAIN.

 

Scary Reality

We found out after she was born that her umbilical cord had been in a knot. If it would have tightened at all during the pregnancy, we could have lost our sweet baby girl. I am forever grateful that she was protected and watched over so that she could be in our family. She lights up our life.

 

Baby Girl, My Sweet Siena

My little baby girl was laid on my chest and I got to see her bright, big, beautiful eyes for the first time. At first she didn’t cry. She just looked around. She was so beautiful. I couldn’t believe she had been inside my body for the last nine months.

baby girl
Look how big her eyes are!
holding baby girl
I couldn’t believe my baby girl was already here… 30 hours later.

She had such long fingers, which as I held her I remembered them moving around by my hips when I was pregnant. She was chubbier than I thought she would be, especially at 39 weeks. But she came out at a healthy 8 lbs 8 oz and 19 inches long.

family pic with baby girl

looking at our creation

She weighed more than any of my mom’s kids had been. No wonder I had pushed for 2 1/2 hours! If I would’ve waited for her to come out on her own I might not have been able to push her out. I was really grateful that we had been a part of the study. A C-section could have really affected our trip out to China. So, grand total: 32 hours in the hospital, 20 hours of labor and 2 1/2 hours of pushing.

holding my baby girl

Me snuggling my baby girl

Afterthoughts

I remember being so tired, so shocked, so amazed, so out of it, and so grateful that it was all over. It was almost the feeling of, now what? I had been preparing to have a baby girl, but I wasn’t sure what to do with her now that I had her.

She was beautiful, but I didn’t know how to be a mom! I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I didn’t know how any of this was going to work. But it did.

I believe that Heavenly Father has been helping us throughout every step of the process. He loves His children and He would show me how to raise His child the right way, even though I am imperfect.

Cute Pictures Below:

first time daddy holding his baby girl
First time daddy holding his baby girl.
family pic with baby girl
Family Picture!
baby girl in daddy's arms
So cute in daddy’s arms
Grammy with baby girl
Grammy was in love with little Siena.
grandma with baby girl
Grandma loves Siena too!
cute baby girl
Look at her eyes!

baby girl

hearing test for baby girl
Hearing test
baby girl in daddy's Christmas stocking
Austin was born in December too and he was sent home from the hospital in this hospital, so obviously we had to put her in it and get a picture of her in his stocking. Our little December babies!
beautiful baby girl
This is seriously one of my favorite pictures of her.
first family picture with baby girl
Another Family Pic!

 

You can also check out my Son’s Birth Story.

It’s amazing how different they are!

Answer My Prayer – When it Feels Like You’re Not Listening

I am sure I am not the only one who has sat alone in my room and looked up, wondering if He really loves me. Am I the only one who wonders if He cares? Does He really know me? Will He answer my prayer?

Reassurance of a Parent

I have often wondered why, when I am feeling this way, when I really want to feel the love of my Father in Heaven, do I not immediately receive heavenly help? Wouldn’t my Heavenly Father want to remind me that I am loved, that I am not alone? Wouldn’t he want to reassure me that He is there?

answer my prayer the way I answer my daughter's request for a hug

Sometimes when I have prayed in anger at my lack of answers, I have told him that if my child needed to know that they were loved I would never hesitate to tell them. I would never hesitate to show them. If He was in fact my Heavenly Father, why would He not want me to know just as immediately.

Where are my guardian angels? Why can’t I feel the warmth in my chest? Is it too much to ask for a heavenly hug?

I wrestled with this question for months. Why wouldn’t He just reassure me of His love? Deep down, I was pretty sure that He did, but I felt like I needed to be reminded.

Unexpected

My answer came after much studying of the scriptures and General Conference talks. It came after praying and pleading with my Heavenly Father to just show me His love for me.

If I knew He loved me, I didn’t have to feel alone. When everything else felt like it was falling apart, I would at least know that He was with me.

After much praying, studying and crying, I finally stumbled across this talk. It was by Elder David A. Bednar, and He talked about ways that we can receive revelation from God. I wasn’t necessarily trying to find the answer to my prayers in this talk, I was just trying to draw closer to the Lord.

He used two examples during his discourse.

Example 1

When you walk into a dark room and find a light switch, you turn it on and immediately the room is illuminated with light. Suddenly you can see more clearly. Everything is shown to you at once.

answer my prayer like lightbulbs being turned on in a dark room

This type of revelation is infrequent and rare. It is most commonly used when you are in dire need of a course correction in your life, Elder Bednar says. This is one of the ways that we can receive revelation.

When this has happened to me, I have looked around me in shock that no one else seemed to feel what I was feeling. It felt so tangible and real. It also came when I really needed the assurance of God’s love. I have only felt this kind of revelation once or twice in my life that I can remember.

And to be honest, this is the kind of heartwarming, bosom burning answer from God that I was looking for. Elder Bednar goes on to say that while powerful, this kind of revelation is not necessary for receiving a testimony.

Example 2

Imagine you are  facing the east and watching the sun rise. First you would see evidences of the rising sun. The darkness would begin to lift and more and more of the surrounding wilderness would be revealed to you.

sunrise as an answer to prayer

In fact, you might not notice it was even happening unless you were watching for it.

Even though the source of this light is the most powerful source of light in our world, sometimes we do not even notice that we are using it.

This type of revelation, the kind that comes quietly is much more common and frequent. We can receive answers to prayers like this all the time.

 

Answer My Prayer

Suddenly I realized that He had been answering my prayer all along. He didn’t need to show me with trumpets and a burning bush. He was guiding me little by little in my life. My Heavenly Father could answer my prayer, simply by showing me that He was with me by BEING with me.

Just because He wasn’t answering my prayer the way I wanted Him to, doesn’t mean that He wasn’t answering it.

 

To Recognize When God Wants to Answer My Prayer

As I went through this experience, I realized something especially important. I wasn’t hearing the answer because I wasn’t actively listening. I was doing what I was supposed to; going to church, saying prayers and reading my one chapter a day.

praying to God to answer my prayer

But I wasn’t doing everything I could to discover what I wanted to know. In a way, I think I expected Him to answer my prayer without having to put in any effort. But when I didn’t go to Him, how could I hear his gentle whisper?

 

What I know

I know that God loves me. He loves all of us. I am constantly amazed at the evidences that He knows us each individually and wants us to return to Him. I know that He is always with us, always wanting to help us. We just have to draw close to Him and ask. As we are near Him, we will always hear His answer.

answer my prayer like a sunrise so it lasts longer

I am so grateful He answered my simple prayer with a simple answer. I learned way more about how to be close to Him than I ever would have if He would have just obliged my demands. He certainly knows me better than I know myself.

 

I have had God answer my prayer on many occasions. I am sure that I will write more, because His love constantly amazes me. General Conference is always something that inspires me and during this last one I received an answer to my prayers about loving everyone.

Feeling Alone? You’re not the Only One

There are many times when I am feeling alone. I think those times started increasing in frequency when I started staying home with the kids. It was easy to feel surrounded by people and validated when I was working or going to school.

But even then, there were many times when I would feel alone.

I am sure I am not alone in feeling alone. We have all felt that way. Whether you are alone surrounded by coworkers who you can’t seem to connect with or you are alone by yourself. Perhaps you are alone surrounded by kids who don’t get your witty sense of humor or recognize how much you love them. Maybe you are alone with a spouse or alone surrounded by friends.

Feeling Alone while surrounded by people drawing

Loneliness doesn’t have to strike only when you are physically alone.

A Mortal Experience

As hard as it is to feel alone, we can take comfort in knowing that this is a mortal experience. Everyone feels alone at some point or another. They have to. Because even Jesus Christ, the literal Son of God felt alone.

Evidences of Christ Feeling Alone

I don’t know everything that happened in the life of Christ and I am certainly no expert. But, it occurred to me while I was reading my scriptures today, that He prayed just as much or much much more than we do.

“And when he had said these words, he himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him.” 

Jesus Christ prayed to the Father all the time. He wanted to be close to Him. Just the simple act of Christ praying to His Heavenly Father shows me that feeling alone is a mortal experience.

I am sure He prayed for other reasons as well. In this case, He was praying to bless the people He was with. And I am only left to guess what else he prayed for.

The Greatest Scriptural Evidence of Christ Feeling Alone

When Christ was hanging on the cross, we have a lot of evidence that He was praying. And not only was He praying, but the scripture suggests that He was left alone, by the Father, which is something that we never have to experience.

Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

After Christ died on the Cross, the Pieta
This is one of my all-time favorite statues and we got to visit it when we went to Italy. The Pieta depicts Mary holding her son, Jesus after He died on the cross.

In our General Conference, that we have as a church semi-annually, one of our Apostles gave a great talk on this verse. I am afraid that I will not be able to give it as much justice.

But something that Elder Holland says in his talk is that Christ had to experience feeling alone. He said that even when we are alone, we are always only a prayer away from God. But if we sin, we remove ourselves from the presence of God and because of the atonement, Christ had to feel everything that we feel.

Why it Matters

After Christ was feeling alone on the cross and diedSo, even when we are really, truly feeling alone, we can always know that we are not alone in what we are feeling. Christ has felt it too. He will be there to help you. He knows how we feel, He wants to help, because even for Him it was crippling to truly be alone.

If we want to not be feeling alone, all we have to do is pray and we will receive help. We may not feel it immediately, but He will eventually help us to feel that we are never alone, not truly. Because Christ has already felt what that was like, we can be assured that He will always be there so we don’t have to feel the way that He did.

Just Remember

If you can look outside of yourself, there are so many people around you who are probably feeling just like you. Try to help your friends and family remember that they are not alone, because you are there with them. We can always help lift those around us and you never know how much you will help someone.

When you are feeling alone, don’t you wish someone would reach out to you?

 

More

One of the times I was feeling alone was when I struggled with Postpartum Anxiety. It is still possible to come out on the other side.

Grandpa’s Last Words and how they Changed my Life

It is not very often that you get to hear someone’s last words. This experience, though special, is not something most people want to experience. Because inevitably, it means someone has died. I never really got to hear a ‘last words’ speech with either of my Grandmas and my other Grandpa is still alive.

Me and my Grandpa before he died and gave me his last words
Being with my Grandpa Haroldsen one last time before he passed away.

Getting to Know my Grandpa

My Grandpa sitting on the couch before his last words
I was impressed at his flexibility at 80 years old!

My Grandpa Haroldsen was a stern man. He always liked to be on time and he frequently didn’t have patience for the crazy antics of me and my four siblings. And to his credit, we were rambunctious kids.

He worked an egg farm and had spent much of his life working hard. Every morning he had a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. He read the paper and when we would come and visit, he would wake us up way too early in the morning by rubbing his unshaven, prickly whiskers on our faces. If you think an alarm clock is bad, you should try that.

One of My Memories

Because we grew up in Alaska, he and my Grandma would frequently fly up to visit us. This allowed us to spend some time with our grandparents without my parents having to drag all of us to the Lower 48. (And yes, that is what we call the continental US. My husband makes fun of me and says that we must refer to ourselves as the Upper 1)

One Christmas, when my grandparents were visiting, I woke up early to go sneak a peak at what Santa had brought for us. It was around 3 in the morning. And to my surprise, and honestly, disappointment, my Grandpa was sitting at the kitchen table with my sister’s globe that she had gotten for Christmas. He spun it on the table, obviously caught in some distant memory.

I said, “hi Grandpa.” Hoping that that would be my only required discussion with him, I anxiously looked around him to the couch where my presents were hiding.

“Good morning, Jennifer.” He then asked me if I knew where he and my Grandma had traveled.

I shook my head. And for the next 3 hours, he regaled me with all of his journeyings throughout the world. He pointed all of them out on the map. At some point I had to sit down on the floor, because I had gotten tired.

At 6 am I was rescued by my brother who emerged and distracted my Grandpa long enough for me to FINALLY see what presents I had. I will never forget that lecture of his world travel, at least the fact that we had it.

When My Grandpa was Dying

I was a sophomore in college. Right before I was about to go back home for the summer, I decided I would drive up to Idaho and keep my Grandma company for a couple of weeks. I wanted to be there for her and help her out.

Spending time with my grandma while i received my grandpa's last words

I also wanted to spend time with my Grandpa who had been diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago. He had been put on hospice, and I knew it was probably the last time I would see him. That trip holds some of my most tender moments with both of my Grandparents.

Aside from my Grandpa’s last words, I remember being by the dining room and kitchen when my Grandma got off the phone with someone. She held the phone and let her hand fall to her side before looking at me. “I wish people would quit asking me how I’m doing.” She started crying and I held her while I cried too.

She gave me that. That impossible urge to cry when someone else does was her doing. My mom has that curse too.

My Grandpa’s Unofficial Last Words

My Grandpa right before he passed away and gave me his last wordsTo me, they are his last words, because it was the last time he tried to impart wisdom to me. He said them to me in full awareness that he wouldn’t be seeing me again once I left and I wouldn’t be seeing him until I died.

He had just let me win a game of Twenty Thousand with him… I know, because I tried to let him win and was finding it extremely difficult to do so. And he was lying on his hospice bed and I was lying on my Grandma’s daybed that they had put in there for her. We were mindlessly watching some TV show. And while we’re both laying there, he says, “Honor your Marriage Covenants. That is the most important thing.”

Kissing my grandpa on the head before he died and gave me his last words“Okay, Grandpa.”

And that was it. His last words were short. I wasn’t even looking at him when he had said them, but they stuck. I guess that’s the thing about last words. They are impactful enough to stick.

Understanding His Last Words

If you are unfamiliar with my religion, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is important, because it will help you to understand the impact of what my Grandpa’s last words were when he said, Marriage Covenants.

my grandpa following his own last wordsWhen we are married, we get married in the temple. We believe that as Husband and Wife, we are sealed together as a family unit for Time (life on earth) and all Eternity (life after earth). This means that we are bound together, our children will be bound to us and nothing will be able to separate us, unless we break our covenants.

That means at the end of my Grandpa’s life, the last words that he felt were essential to share with me was his over arching wisdom that when all is said and done, our family is the most important. Family is the most crucial thing to fight for. If you honor your Marriage Covenants, you will get to be with your family FOREVER. And my poor Grandpa, knew that that is what he wanted after he passed.

He was going to be separated from my Grandma for a time. But he loved her so much and his children so much, that fighting to keep that bond in place was the most crucial thing he could have imparted to me, even though at the time, I was not married.

Keeping My Promise

My husband and I adhering to his last wordsHis last words still pop into my mind from time to time. Keeping your marriage covenants includes commandments such as being faithful to each other, loving God and loving our fellow man. The best part about these covenants is the more we adhere to them, the closer we grow to each other, the more we want to be together and the stronger our bond on earth becomes.

I love my husband so much. He is my strength and my support. There are many times when I feel like I am weak and he is there to lift me back up again and cheer me on.

My grandpa’s last words were not just important for the eternities, they are essential for me now. They remind me of my love for Austin. And by adhering to them, we become better friends every day.

A Note to My Grandpa

I know you’re not physically here now. I’m so happy that now you get to be with Grandma. But I hope you know that by having the courage to share some last words with me, you have impacted my life for the better. I know it was probably scary to share them with me, acknowledging the fact that we weren’t going to be together that much longer. You broke the unspoken rule and brought attention to the fact that this was temporary. I am so grateful that you did. It probably didn’t seem like it made much difference to me, but it did. I heard you and I’m trying to do as you instructed. I love you Grandpa. Save a spot for my family next to yours.

To read about one of the ways we are trying to honor our marriage covenants, you can visit: My Imperfect Husband & His Imperfect Wife

My Imperfect Husband & His Imperfect Wife

I have seen many articles that my friends have shared about love. Five things your man will do if he’s the one! How a real man treats women, etc. And then of course various articles about what to do better in relationships. Each of these serve their purpose. Of course, a man should treat a woman well (see here). The couple should naturally return each other’s bid (see here).  But I wanted to focus on something that is often overlooked. The fact of the matter is that I am married to an imperfect husband. 

Social Media Praise Danger

My imperfect husband is amazing in so many ways. I often heap on the praise when I wish to publicly wish him Happy Birthday, or really when I mention anything about him on social media. Because I sincerely want people to know how incredible he is, I make sure they see his best side. And I wouldn’t be surprised if most people do this.

There is a danger to this, however, for those who take in these public displays of social media affection at face value. It’s very easy to look around at all of the people portraying these perfect relationships and assume that everyone else gets what love is about. Then you might look at your own situation with despair, whether you are single or are in an imperfect relationship of your own. I am sure we can all see the imperfections in our spouse, in our relationship and perhaps in ourselves. But it is very rare to see an honest depiction of a real relationship from other people.

imperfect husband-&-wife-kissing-in-front-of-temple

The Beginning

I married my imperfect husband, Austin in 2012. We were in our mid-twenties and a little dazed with love. Our relationship hadn’t been all sunshine and roses though. We had had our fair share of disagreements, heartbreak and moments when it seemed like it was never going to work.

A couple of months after we started dating, I sat on a little bench with him outside of my apartment and broke up with him. And the exact phrase I used was that I didn’t feel like this was a fairytale. Isn’t it supposed to be a fairytale? Wasn’t I supposed to get swept away? My poor boyfriend left broken and bewildered.

Words can’t convey the despair that followed that decision for me. I felt like a black hole was sucking me in and I would never emerge again. Happiness had been sucked from my being and I broke down into a sobbing mess. I was having an anxiety attack, which was not completely unusual; I have had them before. In fact, anxiety was part of the reason I had decided to break up with him in the first place. But this attack felt different and I soon realized that I had made the wrong decision.

imperfect husband-and-wife-on-opposite-ends-of-a-bench
imperfect husband-in-the-forefront-of-the-picture

Let’s Get Real

Three days later, I all but got down on my knees to beg him to go out with me again. He said he needed some time to think about it. I backed off and he later came around and said he wanted to go on a drive. We drove up to the top of a mountain and talked.

We had the first half of the talk that I was always terrified I would one day have to have with someone that I intended on marrying. This is the “Let’s Get Real” talk. In an act of bravery unrivaled by any suitors who had come before, my imperfect husband shed light on his weaknesses and flaws. He kicked down the wall of his dating persona and let me see who he is even when he was at his worst.

I didn’t say much. The process of him sharing his imperfections had bristled my own conscience to the memory of my own weaknesses and flaws. But, that night I wasn’t ready to share those with him. I was merely in a state of shock, because I hadn’t expected this kind of sincerity and honesty. When he dropped me off at my apartment, he explained, “I want to get back together with you, but I need you to know the good and the bad of me so you can choose whether you want to be together.”

Let’s Get Real Forever

That night I did a lot of processing and basically came to the conclusion that if he was willing to share with me, I could share with him. The next day we went on another drive and I took my turn.

Over the next few months we began shedding the secrets we had been hiding for years by sharing them with each other. And for the rest of our lives we will continue to share the secrets of the present that would poison our marriage if we let them linger in the shadows.

Imperfect-Wife-standing-in-front-of-imperfect husband

The Most Significant Night of My Life

I will be forever grateful for the courage that my imperfect husband demonstrated that night. He set our relationship on a course of honesty and openness. It has taken so much practice to stay that way, and we are still working at it today but I cannot express the significance of that night enough.

My husband frequently attributes our communicative success to my honesty. And while he is correct in saying that I don’t hesitate to share, that has not always been the case. Austin is the one who took the first step into the dark and let me see all of himself without having any idea of what the repercussion would be. He risked everything and that was the only way the was able to gain everything.

Imperfect husband-and-wife-coming-out-of-the-temple

The Continual Journey of Overcoming

As aware as we are of our own imperfections and shortcomings, that does not stop us from having them. I am frequently quick to judge and my husband can be quick to anger. Those two things do not go well together. I can be a bit careless in my actions and my husband can be a bit regimented. We often butt heads on those issues and just cannot see how the other can think or act so differently.

We have some imperfections that are similar and are therefore magnified because we both have the tendency to act the same way. Austin and I like to have nice things and it is hard to tell each other no when an expensive nicety presents itself to us. Sometimes we like to be lazy and the last thing we want to do is work, clean the house or socialize. So, of course we are lazy together!

imperfect husband-kissing-his-imperfect-wife-on-bench

Our Imperfections Make Us Perfect Together

I have an imperfect husband and he has an imperfect wife. And here is the point that we like to try and forget. I am going to have an imperfect husband for the rest of my life! He will not be constantly doting on me. He won’t always remember to help with the dishes. The sweaty socks that he kicks off after work will probably find their way into the living room in the future. There will probably still be times where he snaps because he is so HANGRY. And that is so great! It is really a relief, because it means that he or she will not hold you to a perfect standard.

An even harder point to remember is that he is going to have an imperfect wife for the rest of his life! I will not always keep the house clean. There will be times when I jump to conclusions about his intentions and rant and rave inside my head. I won’t remember to put the camera away when I’m done or I’ll leave my disgusting hair in the corner of the shower until he can’t stand it anymore and cleans it up. And there will probably still be times when I angrily throw the covers towards him when I get up to go feed the baby, even though I know he is unconscious and unaware of the cyclone surrounding him.

My imperfect husband and his imperfect wife are perfectly suited to be together forever. He makes me a better person every day and I hope I do the same for him.

Love is an Equation

Sacrifice + Gratitude = Love. It’s that simple. Perhaps it is easier to think about how this works with your children.

I was pregnant for 9 months for each child I have. So, so far that means I have been pregnant for 18 months. Bleh. I hate being pregnant. I get so big, I feel nauseous most of the time, I feel pain, I’m so uncomfortable and then my reward is that I get to push a human out of me at the end? That’s the sacrifice part.

But I didn’t feel the love until I realized how grateful I was for my baby.

And then I see my little angel baby and I can’t believe that it belongs to me. I can’t believe that I get to be his or her mommy. What a blessing! What a miracle!

I am so in love.

The sacrifice doesn’t stop. I keep cleaning up after them, getting spit up on, pooped on and basically providing all of their needs and wants. I keep working.

Which is why the next part is eternally important.

I don’t always feel the love when I am doing that.

Then I hold them close, think about the dangers that are out there and I am so grateful that they are still my babies. I’m so amazed that they are in my life.

I am still so in love.

Possessing BOTH is Essential

Sacrifice + Gratitude = Love

I try to do things that I know will make Austin happy, even if they are not things that I want to do. Every day I do the dishes, literally the worst job in the whole world, fold the laundry, stay home with the kids, make food, and plan trips. I sacrificed a career.

I can forget love when I am only sacrificing all the time.

So, I am grateful for the times when I get to snuggle him at night, when I see him come home safely from another very busy day of work. He is such a great daddy and I am grateful that as soon as he gets home, he spends time with our kids. I am forever grateful that he is mine and that he asked me to marry him.

I will always feel love, no matter the sacrifices I have made.

The Importance of Gratitude

All I have to do when I am sacrificing and not feeling gratitude is remember that I am lucky just to have the people for whom I am sacrificing. There are some people who never get married. There are those who have been divorced. My kids are miracles because I know some people don’t get to experience that. Three of my four grandparents have passed on already and it makes me that much more grateful for the one who is still living and for the two new ones I have inherited from Austin.

imperfect husband-and-wife-standing-in-front-of-the-temple

Strive for an Imperfect Marriage

I love my imperfect husband. I love my imperfect kids. The best thing about imperfection is I know that my husband loves his imperfect wife and my kids love their imperfect mom.

We are the most amazing imperfect family I could ever ask for.

Share how Amazing your Imperfect Husband is in the Comments Below!

For more info on how we make it work, you can read about the best advice I received from my Grandpa before he died. 

Our amazing wedding photographer can be visited here!

 

When Anger Blinded Me to My Toddler Who Kept Getting Out of Bed

The Frustration of Kids Getting Out of Bed

Why do you keep getting out of bed?! Don't you understand that if you don't go to sleep you're going to be grumpy all day tomorrow and then I'm going to be grumpy all day tomorrow and then you'll have to go to bed even earlier? I want to take this knowledge and insert it into my child's cranium with a thumb drive so they can process the consequences. And yet, every night I feel like I am waging the age old war of the toddler who keeps getting out of bed.

I don't have a solution per-se. Our methods work on and off. But, I do have a story for the moms or dads who want to rip their hair out because their baby doesn't treasure sleep the way that us adults do. Welcome to one of the countless nights that my 2 year old kept getting out of bed.

Calm before the Bed Time Storm

It was a quiet night. My husband and I were excited for some downtime and a break from work and caring for two sick kids. I had just managed to get both of the kids in bed and felt like I could finally relax after an exhausting day. We had just settled into the couch cushions when I heard the familiar turn of the knob from down the hall. Ugh... it was happening again.

Flashes in the Distance

My daughter stood in the hallway, waiting for mama or dada to come put her back in bed. This happened about three times in the evenings. Each time, we took away one of her toys that she likes to sleep with. The one that usually keeps her in bed is the threat to take away her baby if she gets out of bed again. This was the last threat before she finally stayed in her bed.

Thunder Rumbling

We stayed up later than usual and I didn't fall asleep until around 12:30 in the morning. At 2:00 am my 2 year old daughter walked into our room. "Mama? Dada?" I woke with a headache.

To my dismay, it looked like she had gone into my 4 month old son's room to let him join in on the fun. He was awake too. My husband was down for the count. I quickly put my daughter back in bed, after taking away her baby (as promised) and then fed my son.

It was 2:30 now. That was rough, but my bed was calling me. My eyes were just drooping enough to partially sedate me when I heard the door open again.

Lightning Strikes

I growled as I dragged myself out of bed, trudged down the hall and less calmly explained it was time for bed. After flinging some more animals out into the hall and listening to her scream as I walked back, I laid down on the couch this time, having some inkling of what I was in for.

Torrential Rain, Tornado Wind, Flooding Molten Lava

She kept getting out of bed again...and again..and again...and again! I wanted to cry. I wanted to swear. I wanted to strap her to the bed with a couple of tie downs. Instead, after about the 8th time of putting her back in bed, I towered over her and said loudly, "This is not okay. It is time for bed." It was the sternest voice I could muster without screaming the way I wanted to.

I stripped her bed of all toys, blankets and happiness and then stood outside of her bedroom door like a rabid dog about to attack the bunny rabbit inside. Anger flowed out of me like the never ending spit up of my infant son. Could she not see that her mama was at her wits end? Did the darkness mean nothing to her? If I broke down and started sobbing in front of her, would that make a difference?

I had let my anger get the better of me and suddenly I felt very childish. I was raging against a two year old. She had reduced me to her behavior. This had to stop. I had to regain control and act like an adult. But since I had no idea how to do that, I silently said a prayer that I would be able to let go of my anger.

Clouds Break

I listened intently at the door, still irritated but the blood boiling, all consuming rage had subsided. The furnace was blowing hot air throughout the house and I couldn't hear into her bedroom very well. Finally it stopped and I could hear deep breathing coming from the room through an extremely congested nose. I considered leaving her there, but I couldn't bear the thought of her sleeping the rest of the night (what little was left of it) without a blanket. As angry as I was, I couldn't shake the thought of a shivering, little girl in her room.

My daughter did have jammies on that night. This is a picture of her a different day but still sick.
I cracked the door open. It woke her up immediately. She sat up, looking sad. I grabbed some blankets from the closet and put them on top of her. "Thank you for staying in your bed," I said.

She tried to snuff her nose but it was still very congested.

"I'm going to go get you some medicine."

Tears of gratitude and in a tone that expressed that I finally understood what she wanted, she said, "Okay."
 

Sun comes Out

I wanted to cry now. My little girl was just sick and needed help feeling better and that was why she kept getting out of bed. And in my anger, I couldn't see it. All I could see was how angry I was that I still wasn't asleep, that my husband was still asleep and that I was traipsing around the house in less clothes than I would have liked, trying to deal with my misbehaving child.

But if I had just taken the time at the beginning to ask her why she had gotten up in the first place, I could have saved myself 2 1/2 hours! That's right, it was now 4:30. I got her some Ibuprofen and her bunny and her favorite blanket.

After she got her medicine, she immediately laid back in her bed. I gave her her bunny and blanket. "Baby? Baby?" she asked.

"No. You still got out of bed and so we can't have the baby. But when you wake up in the morning, you can have your baby."

"Okay."

Warm Breeze

I kissed her goodnight and finally laid back in my bed. This time, I knew she wouldn't be getting out of her bed. And I could finally rest my eyes without waiting for her to get up. I was right. I slept all the way until 6:30 when my son woke up, ready to eat again.

While my night actually had some legitimate reasons behind the nighttime wakings, there have been plenty of nights that were just frustrating until I finally 'fell asleep' with adrenaline still flowing through my veins.

We’ve all been there.

Mamas, dadas, we've all been there. And if you haven't, just wait. And for those of you who feel like you are all alone because you don't know anyone else who has gone through this, you can know that this mama has.

If you want to read about someone else's miserable night of trying to keep their kid in bed, click below:

My Baby's Heartbeat Bear Blog