INDIANAPOLIS PORTRAIT STUDIO | julie's story

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I have 2 kids, Owen who is almost 2 1/2 and Libby who is almost 10 months. My children are so special and amazing because they teach me more about Christ's love for me every day. Every moment with them is adorable.

I always knew I wanted to be a mom. Even as a young girl, I knew. It just seemed natural. I grew up with a stay-at-home mom and saw her invest her time and energy into every activity we were involved in. I wanted that for myself someday. I envisioned motherhood being something that was so natural, it would just come to me like everything else that had come so naturally to me. It would be easy. Breastfeeding, getting my child to sleep, bonding with my child, all those things would just come, or so I thought.

My plan of becoming a mother was coming together. We waited 5 years after getting married to try for a baby. We got pregnant with our son Owen after the very first try. See, even getting pregnant was easy. My pregnancy with Owen was a breeze for the most part. I never got sick, was progressing and growing on target, all was well. I couldn’t wait to see what my little boy looked like, this tiny being inside me that had been kicking me the past few months! The days leading up to his birth, I went over in my head all the different scenarios. Working at the hospital on the labor and delivery unit, I was well aware of all the scenarios. I started to get nervous. I got scared. The night before my induction, I remember getting this wave of emotion over me as I anticipated the next day. That is the mystery of labor and delivery. No two stories are the exact same. I have a hard time with the unknown. My husband worked nights at the time, so it was getting late in the evening and it was just me and my sweet chocolate lab Boone. The fear and anxiety of the anticipation of his birth began to hit me and I remember curling up with Boone on his dog bed and just laying with him, sobbing. He knew I was scared and needed comfort and he just rested his paw on me and laid his head on mine and let me cry. I will never forget that moment as long as I live.

So, morning came and it was time to go to the hospital. They started cytotec and after the first dose, Owen crashed. His heart rate dropped and after a few hours of the nurse, who happened to be a co-worker and friend, coming in the room and hinting that his monitor strip was not looking good, I knew what was about to happen. Sure enough, I needed an emergency C-section and I was headed for the OR. Owen was born blue and not breathing. He was full term, born two days before his due date, a chubby, 9lb 2 oz baby, but he was somewhat lifeless and dull when he came out. I remember looking over at him in the warmer, watching the nurses, my friends, calmly, but firmly working with him to breathe. All of a sudden, the room was a blur. The sounds were slurred, my smile faded and tears began to stream down my face. I remember telling my husband, “this is not good.” Owen was whisked away to the special care nursery for respiratory issues and I hadn’t even been able to hold him yet. One statement I had heard from so many other moms leading up to his birth that was always in my mind was the statement, “Oh, just wait until they put that sweet baby on your chest and you get to hold him for the first time. Your heart will be so full of love and you will never be the same.” I remember thinking to myself that I don’t know what that feels like. I felt robbed of that sweet moment.

The next days and even months were rough. Owen was a very difficult baby. He had colic and reflux and torticollis and he cried more hours of the day than anything else. He cried for about 10 months straight and threw up every feeding. I tried to nurse him in the hospital, but he just screamed and arched his back like he was in pain, which later I found out was due to his torticollis. I remember thinking to myself that nothing about being a mom was coming natural to me. I couldn’t even comfort my own baby. I couldn’t feed my baby the way it was designed. Everything was not working and I was failing as a mother. I went into a deep dark depression for months. I had full blown post partum depression. I had thoughts I never knew I could have. I didn’t feel like Owen was mine. How could I be his mother if I just made him cry? The days were long and the nights even longer. I never thought we would make it out of those rough days. But we did. I got the help I needed. I found the support I needed from others and one day the puking and the crying stopped. Owen is now almost 2 ½. He is my pride and joy. I made up for the months I didn’t feel bonded to him as a newborn. The love I have for him is so incredibly deep, I would do anything for that boy of mine. He looks every bit like his daddy, but I see some of my personality in him. He’s got a soft side, a caring heart, a sensitive spirit, and a smile that lights up the room. I could go on and on about my love for him. I guess what I want other moms to know more than anything if they ever have this similar situation is that you are not alone! PPD is real. It happens to anyone. It will steal the life and joy from you and you will feel like you will never make it through, but you will. One day those feelings will fade and you will find joy again. Don’t ever be ashamed that you need help. It’s not your fault. Reach out for help so that you can enjoy those sweet moments of motherhood that you were meant to enjoy.

Fast forward to Owen turning 10 months and things were starting to look up. He was sleeping better, eating better, and not nearly as fussy. Still fussy yes, but nothing like the previous months. I was starting to really enjoy being his mom. I always knew I wanted more kids, but I knew I was not ready at all for another child. The whole experience I went through with Owen had taken a beating on me and I needed to take some time to continue to heal emotionally and just enjoy him. Well, funny how God works sometimes. He had another plan. I realized I was late on my period and I thought to myself, really? Could it be? No. No way possible! We weren’t trying. There’s such a slim chance I could be pregnant. I just kept convincing myself there was no way, but deep down I had that gut feeling I was. I went to Walgreens to buy a test for fun, still convincing myself it was totally not happening. I remember checking out at the counter with a pregnancy test, teething tablets, and children’s Tylenol. The cashier giggled and said, “Good luck with that.” I laughed too, but inside I was panicking. I went home and took the test.

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There it was, those 2 perfectly pink lines. I didn’t know whether to scream or cry. I came out and told my husband it was positive and just started crying and kept saying,” What are we going to do?” I for sure did not want to go back down that long dark tunnel of anxiety and depression and up all night with a screaming baby. I thought why in the world would God think me to be capable of taking on another child? Owen would only be 19 months. I can’t do this! I’m not strong enough! But, once again, God had another plan. Because His plan was Libby Annabelle. She would give me a rougher pregnancy than her brother and scare me to death by coming 5 weeks early when I wasn’t ready for her, but oh my heart. She was a blessing I never thought possible. She was my rainbow after my storm. She was my premature baby, the one that was supposed to have all the complications and need special care, but she didn’t. She came out screaming and pink. They placed her on my chest and I finally had that moment that all those other moms were telling me about. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She was comforted by my voice and loved to be in my arms. She was mine. God knew I needed a Libby. God knew my heart needed to be full again.

She is almost 11 months now and not a day goes by that she doesn’t make me laugh, smile, and ooze with joy and love for her. I didn’t think I could handle her, but God knew. I never would have dreamed of having my kids so close together, but now I can’t imagine it any other way. Thank God for His provision and wisdom, for His grace and mercy. There is no greater joy than to be the mother of Owen and Libby. And to watch Owen love on her so tenderly and to see her admire her big brother is beyond words. It’s a joy irreplaceable. My biggest blessings. My heart.

Becoming a mom has made me a stronger person. I speak up when I am passionate about something. I also see the world differently. My kids have reminded me to slow down, to see the beauty in the mundane, to find joy in all things.

The best part about being a mom is rocking your sweet baby to sleep and watching their eyes get heavy and feeling them sink into you as they drift off to sleep, knowing they feel safe and loved in your arms.

The most challenging thing is trying not to compare yourself or your children to others. It's an ongoing battle. There will always be a mom that is more creative, more fit, more productive and a child that is better at something than yours. Learn to embrace you and your children's strengths and weaknesses and celebrate them.

I have an amazing support group at work -- nurses and friends that continue to love on me and my kids. And definitely my faith in God. I would never make it without it.

I am surprised at how hard it is! It's such mundane work, but so emotionally draining at the same time. I wish someone would have been honest and real with me and told me how exhausted I would be and that it is the hardest job I'd ever have.

I wish I could always hold on to their innocence. It breaks my heart knowing someday the world will take it from them. Oh how I wish I could keep them little forever.

I fear everyday about the world my kids are growing up in. It's hard not to get super depressed about it most days. I try to focus on the things I can control and making sure they feel loved and safe. I just pray a lot that God will watch over them and keep them. It's all we can do as moms.

My biggest hope for my children is that they would always see themselves for who God sees them as: beautiful, unique, worthy, and children of a King. I know hardships will come. Words will be said to them, insults thrown at them, but my one hope is they would always hold tight to their inheritance. I pray they know who their heavenly Father is, that they were so uniquely made that not one other is like them! I pray they would know their worth in His eyes so that when the dark days come, they will always fix their eyes on the Light. I pray they grow up to become people that dare to love the unlovable, that offer grace to those who don't know it exists, and are never afraid to live differently than the status quo if that's what they are being called to do.I hope to raise children that know they are so loved and adorned that when they are adults, they will never forget that love. I hope my children find what it is that makes them tick, that special gift that makes them who they are. And, I pray as their mother, my eyes will be open to their gifts and abilities and I will lead them in the way they are to go so that the world can be blessed by those gifts.

My child - rearing philosophies are that every child is different so be ready to change what you once thought was the right way to parent.

If I could give any words of advice or encouragement to other moms, it would be just be YOU! God gave you the children you have because you were meant to be their mother. You are every bit of enough for them. You are beautiful, brave, worthy, and awesome. You will always get sucked into thinking you could be better or be more like that other perfect mom, but it's all lies. You are you for a reason. Be the mom you were meant to be and your children will love you for it.

I think every human being has the power to change the world, by starting with themselves. However, I do believe there is a power unique to mothers. There is nothing like a mother's love.

Dear Owen,

Your birth and months after were not what I had planned in my perfect little idea of what you were supposed to be. You were a hard baby. You cried a lot and you puked a lot. You were always just a little shy of where you supposed to be on your milestones when we would take you for your check-ups. They told me you were not quite where you were supposed to be. You crawled late, walked late, got your teeth in late, and talked late. You were different from your peers. But, I want you to know, as your mother, I see you differently. I see you perfect the way you are. I see you are different for a reason, a good reason. I don't want you to be like the rest of your peers. I want you to be different. You are smart, kind, sensitive, curious, and handsome. I used to get frustrated that you'd rather go off and explore the woods nearby than play at the playground, but now I see the beauty in your desire to explore. I hope you never lose that sense of wonder. Explore, jump in every puddle you come across, play in the sand, and dream big dreams my precious little boy. You are one of a kind. You are Owen, a "mighty warrior." Keep fighting the good fight my sweet son. I love you more than you will ever know.

Love, Mom

Dear Libby,

You were a surprise from day 1. I was not expecting to be pregnant with you. You surprised me when my water broke at work on a Friday morning and you decided you were coming 5 weeks early. You surprised me with your fighting spirit, a premature baby who was 35 weeks, but weighed 6 pounds 11 oz and breathed on her own. You surprised me when we brought you home and we could put you anywhere and you were happy and you would sleep for hours at a time. Everything about you was a surprise, a sweet surprise. You were my blessing in disguise. I love your calm demeanor, your easy going, care free nature. Your smile brings joy to those around you and your laugh warms my heart. Your rolls are the best ever, you wear them so well. I pray you never lose your joy. This world will bring you pain, but your spirit is stronger than that pain. You were made for something great. You are beautiful. You are named after your great grandmother who died 3 months shy of getting to meet you and I love that you have her sweet spirit. You are all things good. I am forever grateful that God had it in His plan to send you to me, to be my joy, my rainbow after a storm. One of my sweetest blessings next to your brother, you fill my heart with a joy I didn't think possible. I love you Libby girl.

Love, Mom

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