Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mazy Grace Is 1 MONTH Old!

Happy 1 month today, Mazy!

I remember when we took her home from the hospital, thinking "wow, 1 month is so far away and I can't imagine how much she will change!" Well, that 1 month mark is now here and boy has she changed! Being her mother, of course I am going to be biased, but she is getting cuter and cuter by the day!

I am also SO happy to say that this week has been a complete turnaround! She is a different baby girl! She is consolable, smiling, able to just lay in your arms comfortably, and is napping. I think I am also figuring her out a little better too. I am not sure if it was the chiropractor, gas drops, or me cutting down on dairy that has changed this girl, but I am going with all 3! What an answer to prayer this has been! Yes, she still cries, but she is a baby and we expect that. But her cries are not cries of pain and so we pray that this will continue! Ah, again, what an answer to prayer! 

I am so excited to see what this next month brings, though I also don't wish the weeks to fly by. I have to say that it seems like 10 years ago that I gave birth to her, but I feel we have been able to savor the moments!

She is getting tall and what I like to call "filling out". She was such a skinny squirt when she was born, and now her legs, arms, face, and even little tummy are starting to get some meat on them. Like I said earlier, we had to retire the newborn clothes, but that's okay. She's cute in whatever size clothes she is in!

Being one month after delivering her, I have to say that I am feeling SO good! It is very humbling to say that because it was such a different story a month ago. God has brought so much healing into my life! I even went on a long-er walk today and felt great. Weeks ago, we thought I would be recovering from open heart surgery, so I am just beyond thankful to God for the work He has done in my body! 

It has been in the 70s here in Minnesota, so we have taken full advantage and went on some walks! Takes her a bit to get to this point, but this is always my goal - a nap for her!

Now that she isn't so fussy, I am able to explore new options, like carrying her around in this! Sometimes she likes it sometimes she doesn't, but she looks so cute in it with her little long legs hanging out!

Snuggle time with dad is an everyday thing!

Some 1 month pictures! Forgive me for the repetitiveness of these, but I couldn't decide which ones to post, so I decided to post them all (except the one that I have of her mid-spit up :))

Praising God for our little Mazy Grace! What a little personality she is getting and what joy we have to be able to raise her! That God would choose US to raise this beauty! What a gift!

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Gift Of Time

The gift of time.

Have you ever thought about how time, though it as no monetary value, can be one of life's greatest values and possessions? When I think of the gift of time, I immediately think of how Jesus lived His life. He walked the streets, looking to give people His time. It wasn't riches; it was Himself. He changed lives with who He was and who He saw people could be, by just giving them His time.

After almost 9 years of marriage and our household containing just Dan and I, you can imagine the routines we got into. The quick jump in the car and go trips. Hunger setting in and quickly whipping up a meal and sitting down to eat it. Staying out late or staying up later because you know the next night you can go to bed earlier. Those things that become part of your routine. Notice though that with a few of those examples, they are done quickly without much thought given to time.

That has been one of the greatest gifts and lessons God has taught me since Mazy came into our life - time is so much more than being quick and doing it according to my time.

God has used parenthood to change our lives in such a beautiful way. Waking up in the morning for the day, not at a consistent time, has taught me about flexibility. Creating a to-do list and realizing by noon I haven't touched it, has actually made me feel free. It took me a day or two to feel that, but when I can look back on the day and realize that what I accomplished was loving our daughter, my heart is satisfied. It was time spent loving the very being God has created and given to us. He specifically created Mazy for Dan and I to raise. What a humbling opportunity.

It is that time spent with her, that I never want to take for granted. Time I wish to never wish away.

And it is the gift of time from others, that has made our gift, all the sweeter. The past 4 weeks have looked nothing like I expected them to circumstance-wise, but they are more fulfilling than I ever imagined. I never imagined the outpouring of love that we would receive. The help that has been offered. The countless cards and words of encouragement.

The blessing of community.

We are privileged to live in a community where the family of God is incredibly strong. All one has to do is walk down the street and either you will be waived at by those passing by, stopped mid-step to talk to the person in their yard, or send a smile across the road to those walking on the other side. And the bond and care goes much deeper. We have the blessing of going to two churches. With that, has come an outpouring of love onto our little family. That gift of time that people have given, has changed our lives.

The gift of time when it comes to the hands who have made us a meal. Our freezer downstairs speaks volumes to the gift of time that people have given us. Each meal that we have eaten and warmed up in our home, has been created and made by hands who had taken time out of their OWN day, to bless someone else. I can't even begin to tell you, how much meals made have blessed us! I honestly thought I would have just a window of time each day to make something, but so far, not so much. And that is where the gift of a meal, has allowed us to give our daughter the gift of time spent with her, instead of worrying about a meal.

The gift of time to send a card, email, or make a phone call. I am a lover of snail mail. Always have been. I do email quite often, but I still love to send the occasional letter or card via the mail. The time that people have taken to write a little note of encouragement, the time people have taken to let us know that they are praying for us, and the time people have taken to send us a little message, is time that has blessed us richly. No matter how the day unfolded, we were uplifted with the gift of love through messages. Especially when I was under the weather, the outpouring of messages blessed us richly, as it increased our belief that yes, God can heal. Which leads me to the next...

The gift of time when praying. This is one that is the most humbling. It is the gift that no one really knows about. It is that gift done in secret. It is the gift that increased our faith. When we first thought that I needed to have another open heart surgery sooner rather than later, it was others belief that God can heal, that increased our belief that God would heal. And look at where we are now! In 6 months, reevaluating, but for now, just hanging tight, not needing to worry about it. The gift of time spent in prayer on behalf of someone else, brings tears to my eyes, that people would choose to think of us. As Christians, I think the beauty of prayer is what draws us nearest to God. It's that time spent with our Savior in the quiet moments of the day. But then when a prayer is being sent up on behalf of someone else, I can't even tell you how much of a gift that is. Truly humbling.

The gift of time in conversation. I can be a talker (just ask anyone who knows me). Even though I do not always struggle to find words, it is in asking how I am doing, where I do. Being completely honest with someone about how I am really feeling, is difficult for me. Sad, really. But over the past 4 weeks, I have been blessed with the gift of time people have given me, to ask me how I am really doing. It has stretched my faith and stretched myself, as I have to choose to be honest each time. But that has been such a gift. Just asking how we are doing, is a gift of time that I am learning to not take for granted!

The gift of time so that we have time. The number of hands that have held Mazy so that Dan and I could reconnect, get a break, or take a deep breath, has brought me to tears. The offers to come and just hold Mazy so that I could either take a nap or get some things done around the home, is a gift that has given more than those people realize. The offers to babysit while I run errands or go to an appointment, have blessed this mother beyond words. The offers to be the hands and feet of Jesus, has been a gift that has given beyond the action itself.

The gift of time in the giving of gifts. Material possessions fade, but it is the love in which they are given, that only grows. If you walk into Mazy's nursery, it is a testimony to the gift of time that people have taken to choose something for her. To bless our family. To help us obtain all that is needed to raise a child. I remember thinking at one point that if she was born, we would have to go and buy clothes because we did not have really anything. Now I look into her closet, and now we have a choice of what to put on her. We have been SO BLESSED by the gifts that people have given! To know that someone took the time to drive to the store, find something that they enjoyed, purchased it with their own money, wrapped it, dropped it off, all for little Mazy, is again, humbling. We cannot thank everyone enough for the gifts they have given us! We had NO clue how much we needed to raise a child, but boy is there a lot that is needed! Wowzas! Yet God has provided all that we have needed.

You see, the gift of time goes much deeper than we often think. In this new season of life, we have learned much about what it means to give the gift of time in different ways. We have been blessed by our family, friends, and community, who have chosen to give us this gift. We cannot thank you enough.

Who can you bless this week, with the gift of time? Having been a recipient of the many ways you can give, I will say that it is one of the most treasured gifts!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Figuring Each Other Out

We will be the first to admit that parenting is not easy.

Yet it is one of the most rewarding gifts - a gift that keeps on giving, even if peeling the wrapping paper away, becomes difficult at times.

This past week has been a bit of a challenge, but I know that any parent reading this is probably thinking "been there!" This past week, Mazy has been extremely fussy and has been crying so hard that she barely has a voice. That broke this mother's heart. As she was crying, I too joined her, as I felt I could not satisfy her needs. I suppose that is the challenge with any newborn - figuring out what they need. Even though I found myself in tears many times, at a loss with what to do next to try and console her, it was Wednesday afternoon that I knew I had to do something different. I had an appointment with her that afternoon and she literally screamed through the whole thing. I wish I was exaggerating, but just ask the technician and doctor - they would vouch for me. I left there feeling very depleted and defeated because they asked me to keep her still and console her, but I couldn't get her to calm down. Of course then my mind led me to believe that I was not doing a good enough job as a mother. I drove home in tears.

We thought maybe she was colicky because she would start crying at random and then be inconsolable. Then maybe gas was getting the best of her. We were open to any suggestions. The idea of a chiropractor had crossed my mind as I know of a couple people who have brought their babies in. I was very skeptical because I did not want anybody cracking my baby. When I got home, I had a message on facebook from a good friend whose daughter brought their son to a chiropractor. I knew that it was worth a try and a confirmation to go for it, as I read that message. I called a friend to see who she suggested to go to. I called that doctor and they had an opening in 15 minutes. I buzzed down there and throughout most of the appointment, Mazy just laid there, looking as comfortable as could be. I wondered whose daughter that was?

By Thursday morning, we literally had a different kid. Mazy cried for maybe 5 minutes during the day, she was THAT content and happy! We played, read books, talked, just snuggled, all without that piercing and heart-wrenching cry. Friday she was a bit fussy again, so I called and they said I could bring her in if I wanted to, so I decided to since we had the weekend coming up. Saturday morning she was quite fussy again, but throughout the afternoon, she had numerous dirty diapers. I am thinking she has some digestive/intestinal things going on, and the chiropractor is loosening it all up. What I really liked about going to the person I did, was that he was so gentle with her, he showed me things I could do at home, and he did not push me to come back, but to call when I felt I needed to.

I know I am opening myself up to a lot of opinions by saying I took our baby to the chiropractor, but I am the first to say that it worked! We know she was very twisted in my womb, but all that was done to her were stretches. I was able to see everything he did to her and it was nothing I wouldn't do!

Today, she has slept so much and again, is quite content! I again asked Dan, "whose daughter is this?" We have been praying and praying that God would show us how we can help her, as we just felt so sorry for her! She has her voice back, which is encouraging! God is answering our prayers!

We know that babies cry and are fussy. I do know too, that from what I read, her cries were cries of pain, instead of just fussiness. We are praying that it will continue to improve and that this little girl can continue to just grow and grow! Which, speaking of, she is really starting to get some meat on her! She was SO thin when she was born, but she is surely gaining weight, as I have had to retire most of her newborn clothes. Am I sad? Mixed feelings - she is still not a huge baby, just long. So I feel like she is still our baby girl and seeing her grow is so much fun. She is getting a little personality and she is becoming my sidekick!

I realized in church today, that I was allowing the devil to tell me lies. I started to think that I was not a good enough mother because I couldn't console her (especially after that appointment). I had a friend tell me earlier in the week to not even let my mind go down that path. Boy, when your hormones are still out a whack, it sure is easy to think that! I needed this Sabbath. I needed to be reminded that it's okay. The devil is NOT going to steal our joy and take away these precious days. We have such wonderful help and I could not be more thankful for the people in our life! I plan on sharing much more about that too - the blessing of community. This gift of life is more than I could ever imagine. I never knew I could love so deeply, so quickly. Mazy has changed our lives and more importantly, GOD, is drawing us nearer to Him. What a gift! What a gracious gift - that God would choose Mazy to do just this.

So we are praying that this coming week is a little better and that we can continue to try and help little Mazy Grace feel better too! Here are some pictures from the week:

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Blessed By Our Families!

Over the past 3 weeks, we have had the privilege of family coming out from Michigan, to meet Miss Mazy Grace! The first weekend, my parents came out and then the next weekend, Dan's mom came out, and then this past weekend, my mom, sister, and her 4 girls came to visit. It has been SUCH a blessing having family out here to help and love Mazy to pieces! I am thankful that we live close enough to them, where they could make a trip out here! 

And though we miss our families, we have a family here in Minnesota that has loved us so deeply! Their love for us has no boundaries. Knowing that family is far away, my heart is at peace knowing that I can call up anyone at anytime here in Minnesota, and they would be right at our doorstep. That just shows the love that people have out here and we are humbled that we are recipients of that love! All of the meals, cards, gifts, offers to just hold Mazy while I get some things done, and words of encouragement have made this new journey that much easier! 

A few pictures from the visits:

My older sister Kari and 3 of her girls entertaining Mazy (she misses them!)

Dan's mom giving what Mazy loves - FOOD

 My nieces LOVE Uncle Dan! Plus he has cool gadgets!
 My mom holding Mazy while she sleeps - she definitely has the special touch!

 The girls making sure Mazy has enough to do
 Catching up with the girls
 Easter morning in their Easter dresses! All 5 cousins together! Mazy apparently thought the idea of a picture was a little boring...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

3 Weeks Old!

Maybe we are a little obsessed, but I can't help but share more pictures of her, now that she is officially 3 weeks old! I know that many have said to savor every moment, so that is what we are trying to do! She is growing up fast, so we want to make sure we capture it all! 

Actions: Mazy now smiles and can coo when she is excited!

Food: Eats every 2-3 hours. I do not have to supplement very often anymore, which makes feedings much easier! I did not realize how much my diuretics were effecting my milk supply - plus it didn't help that milk isn't fully "milk" until 10-14 days. I feel we are on the upswing, as feedings are not a battle every time. Of course there are up and down days, but I know that is normal. I am hoping to stick with breastfeeding, in hopes that as I ween off the diuretic, that it will only get easier and easier. 

Sleep: Mazy sleeps in about 2-3 hour increments. One night she slept for 4 hours straight, but that was the only time. I about panicked when I looked at the clock, but realized it was just fine. Dan does do a feeding with a bottle if he doesn't have to get up really early in the morning, which is such a blessing! 

Me: I feel I am back to normal Kristin, which means I am a normal person recovering from a delivery who happens to have a leaky valve. I do not feel the valve is effecting me like it used to, buti am just more tired, which can be assumed having just had a baby too. I think I look more normal too!

She has been quite fussy the past two days and we are not sure why, but we are thinking maybe she is a little colicky or is going through a growth spurt. As hard as those fussy moments are, we can't help but fall deeper and deeper in love with her! Here is why:

This is Mazy's "yeah, that's right, I am 3 weeks old" dance

Cuddles with mom! Oh how I love these moments!

Lovin' on my baby girl

Every night, Mazy Grace falls asleep with Dan - what a treasured time!

Mazy has discovered her hands this past week and now often falls asleep folding her hands. Can she get any cuter?

Oh this girl...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Gift of Motherhood


A gift wrapped with unexplainable love for someone else, a love that is fostered in the tiniest of details, a patience that holds no limits, and a joy unexplainable.

Over the past, well, MANY years, I have often thought about what it means to be a mother. I always struggled with the question "do you have kids" because yes, we have two perfect and beautiful children in heaven. Yes, we also have relationships with kids where we love them deeply, being in youth ministry. I had come to the conclusion that in order to be a mother, it doesn't mean the only way is to put people stickers on the back of your vehicle to represent living children in the home, and the dog of course.

Motherhood goes far beyond what our human minds often think or realize. It is a natural instinct, a gift born and nurtured at a very young age. When Mazy was born, I will be honest in saying that I was nervous! I did not have a lot of experience with newborns. I didn't always know what to do when they started crying. I am not sure I ever changed a newborn's diaper. In other words, this whole newborn thing was very new to me!

When I look back on the first 3 weeks of Mazy's life, I sometimes wish I could have a redo of the first week. I am so thankful my parents were here to just be there. I know I was not well and now I can only wonder how that first week would have looked differently if I felt like Kristin, without all the heart complications. All I know is that little Mazy was so loved by our family and friends, and that her dad and the most amazing husband, loved her unconditionally.

Honestly, I remember thinking and wondering that first week if I could do this - this thing called motherhood. I was so overwhelmed. My emotions were a mess, my physical body a mess, and my mind a mess too because I do not remember much about that week. I just remember sitting in the rocking chair in Mazy's room, in tears. I cried out to God, telling Him I just didn't feel good and wondering if this is really how it's supposed to be? That is when I realized that I just had to let people help. God taught me to let His people help. Let people step in and make meals, hold Mazy for awhile, clean, and even cut Mazy's fingernails. I learned so much that first week and the lessons learned, I wouldn't trade!

When I look at motherhood as a whole, outside of the circumstances that have made up the past few weeks, I realize it has been an experience that has been wholly satisfying, filled with contentment, and completely humbling. Motherhood has taught me that beauty is in the routine. Beauty is in the messes. Beauty is in the days that nothing is accomplished. Beauty is in the dirty clothes. I never knew I would love the smell of spit up on my clothes. I never knew how fast a day could fly by, when the only thing I really accomplished was staring into our daughter's eyes. I never knew how much I would enjoy seeing a full laundry basket of Mazy Grace's clothes. I never knew how much peace a sleeping baby would offer this mother's heart.

I had no clue.

Motherhood and fatherhood has completely changed our lives. Has it always been easy, no. Has it been more than we ever imagined, yes! We look at Mazy Grace Sterk and feel a love for her that holds no bounds. Our hearts in love with a girl that is only just a few weeks old. Our lives forever changed by the amazing grace of God in our lives. Motherhood and even just the thought of the gift of motherhood, brings me to tears of thankfulness.

Days filled with the gift that we have been praying for, for so long, has given us an unspeakable joy. A gift that we have the privilege of unwrapping, daily. Each day, we savor every moment because we know her life is not in our hands, but in the arms of our Maker. What a blessing we have been given and what a gift motherhood has been.

We praise our Father and Creator of life, for the gift OF life!

One of my favorite pictures of Mazy! In her Easter dress, with one of her first smiles, and her saying "Mommy, look at my legs!" 

PRECIOUS. What joy motherhood has brought to my heart!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Mazy Grace - Week 2

On Tuesday, Mazy had her 2 week check-up and we have one healthy little girl!

She is in the 99 percentile for height - well, actually, when you look at the chart, she is still off the charts! She weighed in at 8 lbs. 13 oz. and falls into the 73 percentile. Here is what the past week has looked like!

We had Mazy Grace's newborn pictures taken by Abby - she is so incredibly talented! The first 2 pictures are just a sneak peak:

How precious!

Those eyes!

Mazy just LOVES her bath time with dad!

 Dan's mom came to help out last weekend:

My mom, sister, and her 4 girls came and visited this past weekend:

Never get sick of watching her sleep!

We have been SO BLESSED with having family here! Oh are we going to miss them! But we are thankful they are just a few states away. What love we have been given and Mazy has been SO LOVED by her cousins, aunties, and grandmas! So much to be thankful for!