Welcome Baby Zoe!

We had our precious baby girl a week and a day ago!  Oh how excited I am to share her amazing birth story with you...crazy, hard, a powerful experience in every way.  I can't think about it without being brought to tears.  But first, without further adieu, here she is:

Zoe Joy Marie
7 lbs 2 oz

We are loving this new little life...so much more to come!


Letters to My Daughters Part 2 - Our Beautiful Baby Zoe

(This has been a hilarious and memorable due date; Selah woke up super early and I made her wait way too long for me to get her up.  I can hardly walk and wince in pain just standing up...which means I practically have to drop her in her crib for naps.  She was more whiny than usual (surely not because her parents are a mess!?) Kevin came home to take us to brunch but accidentally slashed his finger in the glider while on the phone (???) It's pretty bad and has been throbbing all day.  Oh and we did make it to lunch, then to the pet store which I thought she'd love....not so much.  The cats made Kevin sneeze all afternoon.  Oh my.  All while the rain came down and we carried on with our usual crazy.  Never a dull moment!  Zoe is coming into quite the party :)  Credit to Jenna Maddux Photography for doing a beautiful job taking our maternity photos!  So glad we squeezed them in!!)

 Dear Baby Zoe,

I know it might seem crazy to call you beautiful before I've ever seen your face, but I know you are being uniquely and wonderfully knit together by our heavenly Father....so I know you are a beautiful, amazing creation.  I guess it's weird to think I'm writing a letter to a little life I've never met.  But the second I say that I realize we have spent the last 40 weeks getting so acquainted.  You were breech for about 34 weeks, and it was a whole different experience having my little one's head closer to my heart. What I loved most about your position was how intensely, (though painfully;)  I was able to feel your movements.  I always felt like people would look at me and be shocked by how crazy my belly looked while you moved.  It definitely made it easier for your daddy to feel your movements and see your little body rolling all over in there.  Every time he sees or feels it he gets really close to my belly and says, "Zoe, what are you doing in there?  We can't wait to meet you and we love you so much..."  It is a powerful experience to have your belly prayed over when you're pregnant and we've done that too.

And now sweet one, on my very due date, you are snuggled up so tightly on my sciatic that it's actually pretty hard to even walk or move!  Though that has been challenging for me this week, today when you were kicking out my side as you like to do, I thought of how everything will change so quickly, in a moment, when you finally are placed in my arms.  Oh, I am so excited!!  I really work hard at savoring pregnancy, trying to memorize this belly and all these feelings and moments.  It is certainly more difficult at the end with such physical pain.  (or the first half when I'm throwing up. ;)  But how amazing will it be to meet your brand new life and witness your first breath!?  An experience that I know will be unlike any other.  Worth any and every moment I could endure while you're in my womb.  Now, labor and delivery is definitely not all flowers and gumdrops of course.  But my only experience so far sure was fun....and all the details, crazy or not, are what make it special.  And rest assured, knowing your daddy and I, we will always be sure to share the most dramatic version with you and your sister. :)

We just cannot wait to see what you look like, what kind of traits you share with your big sister Selah, what kind of personality you have, and how completely different you are as the one and only you that God has made.  Even though I know how much I already love you, I imagine those who've already been down the road of having another baby are thinking that I have no clue what emotions are coming...and I believe that  And I wait with expectation at what it will be like for your Daddy and I to look into your eyes and really get to know you.

I imagine loving you will be a divine adventure....filled with tears and triumphs, sweet moments and sometimes crazy ones.  More than anything I know we will have to seek after and trust God with every step.  You are his sweet child, and we are the privileged ones who get to know you and raise you.  And know we pray fiercely for you baby girl.  I will spiritually fight for you every day of your life.  God has taught me so much in my journey as a mother so far, and I know with every life he entrusts to us those lessons will only increase.  I hope you always know how very much I love being a mom...and I so love being your mom my Zoe girl.  Trust me when I say, I work really hard at keeping a grateful positive perspective.  But I am obviously far from perfect...God is continually refining me and I will just hate it when I fail you.  Unfortunately, I know there are times when my broken self will.  That is the beauty of grace...receiving and offering it freely and fully.  One of the biggest struggles of all for me as it has been no easy task in my life.  But oh how I'm thankful for God's constant pursuit.

That is a lot of words for a baby before you're even born, I know.  But I just never want to forget these moments of waiting, wondering, anticipating your arrival.  The last moments before I meet you and am changed forever by knowing you.  It's just so hard to believe that God loves us so much to allow us this experience.  I don't take it for granted, and I have to surrender my anxiety every day.  I have prayed so many times for the Lord to breathe life into you, to protect you and deliver you safely into our arms.  Many others are praying for you too, and we are so very thankful.  Oh, and your big sister Selah...well she already seems to love you too.  She points to my belly when we ask, "Where is baby sister Zoe?"  Then she wants to lift my shirt and kiss you right on my belly button.  I know she will be fascinated when she sees you, a real baby that we get to bring home and love.  I am longing for that moment when we're together.  We pray that you two will love each other so much, and be best friends for your whole lives.  I'm quite sure with us 3 gals in the house we will have our moments. ;)  (And I know I don't even have a clue!)  But I trust we'll get through it and hopefully love each other more for it.

I think I keep writing and writing because it either makes me feel closer to you, or I'm trying to coax you out. (or calm my nerves!)  You are welcome to come anytime baby girl!!  And please do.  I'm a pretty good swaddler, (your daddy is the best), and we will keep you warm and snuggly on the outside too.  The anticipation only grows with each day little one.  I just can't believe I'm about to hold a new baby in my arms again.  And I am so crazy grateful.  I love you little Zoe.  As your uncle Darin asked last weekend, you can come out to play now!

Love, Mommy

Letters to My Daughters Part 1 - My Sweet Selah

(Yes, this is a 'rose-colored' glasses sentimental post that I wrote yesterday.  Which I'm glad I did...because this morning I had a patience level that wasn't so rosy.  Just so you know;)

I have wanted to write a post to and about my Selah girl before her baby sister comes for the longest time.  Today, after some sweet moments chatting with her and singing to her in the rocking chair, in an effort to coax her into a second nap, I'm glad to finally be sitting down to write.  She loves to kiss my belly right now, and raises her eyebrows whenever we mention Zoe, or 'baby sister.'  She also will miss it when my belly button pops back in, I'm quite sure.  Ha.  Today I'm so sentimental, staring into her petite little face, amazed at how this incredibly overwhelming love I have for a child is about to multiply.  I love this age, I really do.  Seems like the most challenging one so far, but so amazing nonetheless.  I often thought I should write this in my craziest, stressed out moments...you know, for as much of a realistic perspective as possible, ;) but this works too. 

Dear Selah,

Oh how I love being your mom sweet girl.  It's overwhelming in the best way.  Becoming pregnant with you, carrying you for 41 weeks + 1 day, meeting your sweet face after watching you being born....I mean seriously, what an absolute treasure the Lord has given my heart through these special, priceless moments.  What an adventure we have been on over the last 19 months!  From the hard work of getting in rhythm just to feed you at first, to our late night snuggles that went on for quite awhile; hearing you laugh for the first time, making you smile, getting that heart leaping, brings me to tears feeling whenever watching you try or accomplish something new.  Watching you sleep, memorizing your features and gestures, growing in patience as you grow in will, determination, and strength; loving how you hold my hair when I hold you or your tired/scared, loving how you love your thumb while twirling your own hair.  In these last two months I feel like the baby grew right out of you and a little girl took her place.  I thought that was true after 15 mo., but I remember looking at you then and still being able to see my baby girl there.  Now how I love to see you grow...and that you still love your mama in the best way.  You recently started saying mom-MEE in the cutest voice, which of course I am loving...and can hardly resist!

You show your joy and excitement over something, (like being rescued from your crib in the morning;), by saying, "Hi!" in the cutest, sweetest voice.  I love it.  Your hair is a wild animal of its own, and your Daddy would love for me to agree to cut it...but I'm just not ready yet.  Anytime I consider it I think it looks especially fun and cute the next day.  We'll see if we can make it to 2. :)  You are such a little hard worker.  You love to move things from one place to the next (with some grunts while you're at it).  You also love, love your babies, your books, and any balls available.  Such a versatile little gal.  You love to take one particular baby everywhere, which I have a soft spot for, because I was the exact same way with my babies.  You are thrilled about going outside, which is a recent and new thing, since the weather is nice and we don't really have a back yard, so we have to be creative when we're home.  We played with sidewalk chalk the other day and you were delighted.  You also adore your Saturday morning dates with Daddy.  I know he does this to try and give mommy some rest, but now I think he just delights in that one-on-one special time with you.  He absolutely adores making you laugh...and he's great at it.  Mommy tends to get the snuggles, Daddy usually gets the giggles.  We pray so hard about being good parents to you and your baby sister.  We long to raise you to love, obey, and serve the Lord.  Which is why we are working so hard to teach you to obey us the first time we ask.  (Though today I think we looked at each other and said, "We have no idea what we're doing.":) Submission is a lifelong lesson little one, but a trait that certainly leads to freedom.

You also love to go to church and 'praise Jesus!'  I like to take you into worship sometimes because you like it so much, then to the nursery after.  And you love, love your Sunday school class experience, which I'm so thankful for.  It certainly is neat to see you so eager to play, interact, and learn about Jesus.  Or maybe you just love that sticker you get to wear. :)

We've had our tough days and tears, that's for sure.  Having a pregnant mommy who's been through several crazy feelings and stages these last several months has not always been easy on you, I'm sure. But we sure have shared so many sweet moments.  The pregnancy has helped me savor our time together even more.  I love reading you "The Lion and the Mouse," having dance parties to our favorite worship music, taking you to storytime at the library, and teaching you about things we do around the house.  We have such a rhythm you and me, and I have loved seeing you grow in understanding of what I'm saying and doing.  My weariness through pregnancy has also allowed you to be introduced to your Baby Faith dvd's which you could watch on repeat.  And thankfully so could I, which is why I let you watch them at all. :)  Oh and Mister Rogers.  Another one of the few I will play for you.  And it is definitely sweet to see your enjoyment and discovery.   I will always be amazed by you sweet girl.  Even in your sassier moments of independence or not so lovely exertions of will, I often want to scoop you up and have compassion for the tough lesson you'll learn that we're all sinners, broken on this side of heaven, in need of the life giving grace of our savior Jesus.  (Sometimes I just want to go into the other room and pray to Him!)  So often a truth that's tough to accept.  But I promise you little one, God wants to wrap you in his arms even more than I do.

You love life, it sure seems that way.  You are enthralled with babies, and all kinds of little kids in general.  Which  makes me so incredibly excited that you are about to begin the most beautiful adventure; that of being a sibling.  My brothers have been two of the greatest gifts God has ever given me...and I am thrilled that you are about to become a big sister.  What a joy and a blessing.  You will be an amazing leader, nurturer, and friend to your baby sister, I have no doubt.  She will be so blessed by you!  Having not had a sister, I love to imagine the two of you 30 years from now, talking and laughing about your crazy parents.  And hopefully reminding each other that even though we are so obviously and undeniably flawed, you always knew how deeply we loved and treasured you both.   We'll also be excited to see how God chooses to add to our family in the future.  We will always pray for and lead you all to be great friends.

You will always be our firstborn baby girl Selah.  That is a special role to play.  You will always be the one who shared in all the first experiences of parenthood with us, and who has been able to see the crazy looks on our faces when we encounter something else new for the first time.  You will be the one who had us all to yourself for 19 months of your life...and who continues to teach us just how much we can love.  Which in turn has taught us more about God's love for us than I could have ever imagined.  I know your sweet sister will only add to our joy and limited ability to grasp the
Father's love for us.

(This is the kind of hair day Daddy says she'll be mad at us for later :)

Our world is about to  change little one...and we give all the the glory to God for being on the brink of bringing baby sister Zoe into our lives.  While I know we'll have weary moments while we work it out and grow to know one another, I hope and pray for so much fun and sweet joy ahead.  God is so good to allow us such deep and life giving relationships on earth.  Family is so special, and I'm excited that we are about to become 4.  I pray you never doubt our love for you... and that you would come to know and embrace the purpose God has for your beautiful life.  You are a pearl of great price...and you hold such a special place in my heart.  I love you so much Selah.

Love, Mommy