this time…

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We loaded up in the car to leave the hospital like old pros. It’s our third baby boy. He screamed almost the whole way home as he experienced the car seat for the first time. And while he screamed, I could feel this look of peace cover my face.

All of my babies have screamed the whole way home in the car. And I don’t remember that look of peace on my face. The screaming in the car led me to panic and made me sweat and made my heart race. I wanted to pull over and hold him and try again before. But this time I knew that our baby boy was fine. He’d be home in a few minutes where I could snuggle him and remind him that he’s safe. And just the overwhelming feeling of gratitude for having a baby in our car, coming home with us, was enough to make me feel that peace this time.

This time we know that it’s our last baby. Our third baby boy is our last baby. So this time I’m going to hold him for all of his naps. I’m going to nap when he naps. I’m going to breathe in that smell of baby shampoo and let my senses memorize how that smells and how that feels and what his little grunts sound like.

This time I’m going to smile when I lift him out of his crib in the middle of the night. I’m going to stop watching the clock at 3:00 a.m. and see each moment as time that I can spend with him that I’ll never get back. Not because I’m superhuman or because I don’t love sleep, but because the thought of never feeding a baby in the middle of the night again makes my heart break.

This time I’m not going to force the baby on my big boys. I’m going to wait for them to ask to hold him and love on him. When they rush home from school and want to see their baby brother before they do anything else, I’ll know that taking the pressure off of them was a good thing.

This time I’m going to cry as I watch friend after friend stop by to check on me and meet our newest addition. When I see them hold him and welcome him to the world, I see a future full of friendship and the support we receive from our amazing village. The meals they bring are the icing on the cake, but the kindness and love and grace they extend to our whole family are the real deal.

This time I know what stuff to sweat over and what stuff to just let go. The stress of nursing a big baby was gone because I knew what I was getting into and I could effectively communicate with our doctors and nurses. This time I knew that being a couple of ounces away from his birth weight wasn’t something to panic about. This time I know that holding him all day right now is good for me. This time I know that staying in my pajamas and missing a shower (or two) is okay- even if people are coming over. This time I know that feeling relaxed is the most important thing. Everything else can wait.

This time I know that my soft belly will return to normal again, so I just wait and enjoy the pajamas and yoga pants and extended wear of maternity pants.

This time I sing the same hymns over and over again at bedtime and sometimes find myself unable to choke out the words as I sing to my baby boy about God’s grace. This time I know that there’s no more important thing that I could ever sing about.

This time I’m praying that I don’t rush my big boys into growing up too much because my hands are full with their baby brother. They are all still babies in my eyes and each of their feelings and emotions and life stages are all important.

This time will fly by. He’ll be a month old in just a few days. I’ll wonder where the days went. So this last baby boy of ours is being fussed over and cherished in the best ways we know how to do that. We are so, so grateful for this time.

when Hudson and Hayes met James Walker

A few weeks before James Walker was born, I was on Facebook and noticed that one of Hudson’s former preschool teachers was going to start a new business taking every day photos of children. One of the specific events she said she wanted to photograph was siblings meeting for the first time. I immediately messaged her to see if she would be willing to come to the hospital the day of the c-section to take photos of Hudson and Hayes meeting James Walker.

I knew that I’d be stuck in the bed for a few hours and wouldn’t be able to take pictures, and I wanted Todd to be able to enjoy the moment. And Logan agreed to come take pictures! I am so glad we did this because the emotion on the boys’ faces is just the best! I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

If you are local to Columbia, definitely reach out to Logan Fowles for children’s photography. These pictures are just priceless to me! (Email Logan at LoganFowles@yahoo.com)

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The Night Before We Meet James Walker

We’re heading to the hospital tomorrow morning to meet our precious baby boy. Our third baby boy. Most likely our last baby.

As I sit here thinking about what that means, I’m overwhelmed with peace. Almost six years ago, we were getting ready to go meet our first baby boy and I was anxious and afraid and excited and had no idea what to expect.

This time I know what to expect when I get to the hospital. I know what’s going to happen in pre-op and a general idea of how it will feel in the operating room. I am praying that things go smoothly and that James Walker and I both stay healthy and that other than a precious baby entering this world, the procedure is uneventful.

A couple of days ago I sat down and watched the videos of Hudson and Hayes’s birth. I cried and cried as I relived those experiences and it made me so excited to get to experience it one more time with a baby that we have prayed so hard for.

The nursery is ready. We’ve pulled out the baby gear- though we’re using a whole lot less gear this time. We’ve washed bottles and washed sweet baby clothes. And there’s just a feeling of peace.

We’re so excited for the boys. Hudson has asked me if he can put his Ninja Turtles in James Walker’s room as a welcome home gift. Hayes scrunches up his little nose and talks about how cute the baby is going to be. They can’t wait to meet their baby brother. And I can’t wait to see them when they meet their baby brother.

The instant that Hudson was born my heart grew in ways I never imagined. And when Hayes was born, I was even more surprised at how much I could love another baby. And I just know that James Walker is going to grow and soften us all even more.

I imagine a house full of wild boys who love fiercely and wrestle with the best of them. I imagine a 4-year-old James Walker playing outside and learning how to throw a baseball from his 10 and 8-year-old big brothers.

My sweet daddy told me yesterday that I was such a girly girl and never liked any “boy things.” I didn’t like sports and I wasn’t a tom boy in any sense of the word. Yet here I am. A mom to three sweet blessings and it’s my responsibility and Todd’s responsibility to grow them into men of God. And there is no responsibility that I take more seriously than that one. I may have been a girly girl, but I am a boy’s mama through and through.

I see their hearts and their vulnerabilities and their need for toughness and need for sweetness. And as we get ready to welcome this little book end to our family, I’m just overwhelmed with complete gratitude for the weight of this responsibility. To raise a little person that will one day become a man.

And on the days that I’m frazzled and overwhelmed and don’t know what to do with all the noise and chaos mixed with all the love and gratitude, I’m just going to pray that I always remember how I feel in this very moment.

I’ve carried James Walker for 40 precious weeks. My body is a wreck. My heartburn is out of control. I’ve gained a lot of weight and will no doubt be welcoming a very large boy into this world. I’ve rubbed my belly and prayed for him in the night when I can’t sleep. I prayed for the time to pass quickly in those first 15 weeks of total sickness. I prayed for his little body to grow stronger each day and thanked God so much for the promise that He knows James Walker through and through. He knows every single little thing about him and He has always known him. And I’ve found profound comfort in that.

And as this time comes to a close and I get ready to see my baby’s sweet face and to see my precious husband hold him for the first time, I can’t think of much else to say other than “thank you.” This time has truly been a privilege. To be this boy’s mama will be one of the greatest joys of my life. And the introduction that awaits us tomorrow is something that is completely miraculous and truly God-breathed.

Thank you for praying for our family and for all of your sweet words over the past few months. Please continue to pray as we gear up for tomorrow’s surgery and James Walker’s arrival.

 

just one more rock

Hudson and Hayes moved into a room together just after Christmas. It was Hudson’s room, but now it has two matching twin beds and houses the often wild, excited, sweet, sometimes restless nights of two brothers sharing a room.

Hudson is 5 and Hayes is 3, and they’re both so excited about meeting their new baby brother. But Hudson is my big boy and rule follower. He knows that when lights are out, it’s time to get serious and go to sleep.

Hayes is still so excited to be in the room with Hudson that he giggles and tries to get Hudson to laugh while Hudson stays as still as possible and ignores Hayes. Todd and I typically have to go into their room about three times to remind Hayes to go to sleep and be quiet.

Last night at bedtime, Hayes was extra tired and extra emotional. Hudson had won the “race” to see who could get pajamas on and get in bed first. He cried for me to come hug him. So I hugged him, but he continued to cry. I put him in my lap and swayed back and forth, but he continued to cry.

I asked him, “Do you want to go rock in James Walker’s room?”

The nursery is almost set up. Nothing is hung on the walls, but the furniture is all in place just waiting on our newest baby boy.

But last night, I carried my 45 pound 3.5 year old into the nursery and sat in the rocking chair. He nestled himself right above my large baby bump and squeezed his legs up into the chair. He rested his head on my shoulder as his hot tears continued to fall. He asked me to sing to him.

And at first I was thinking that I needed to make sure Hudson was okay. That I needed to get downstairs to finish folding that laundry.  That I needed to finished my grocery list so I would be ready to get to the store in the morning.

But as I held my big preschooler, and looked out the window at the stars in the clear sky, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d ever rock him again. He hasn’t asked to be rocked in years. A baby is about to be here and will be occupying my arms as we sit in that chair that has rocked all of my babies.

And I decided that I’d sit there and rock him until he decided he was done. So I smelled his hair and rubbed his back and said a little prayer over him, and after about five minutes, he was ready to go back to his room and go to sleep.

We can’t wait to meet James Walker, but it is heavy and humbling on my mama heart as I think about how much I’ll be needed by all three of my babies. Needed in three very different ways. And I know that God will equip me and cover me with His grace as I sort through how to be the mama they each need me to be.

So if I’m rocking a 3 year old and a newborn at the same time, I’ll just have to celebrate the fullness of blessings in my arms. Because I’ll never know when it will be the very last time that one of them wants to be rocked.