Reflecting on Jesus’s Last Words

    This Friday we gathered to reflect on Jesus’s last words before he died on the cross. I always find it funny that we call this day ” Good Friday”, how is it a good day? like hello… Jesus dies! ha. But we know it doesn’t end with him dying. So many things happen as he hung on the cross and He had a few words to say. Our church always honors His last words by having people reflect on his seven final words. I presented a piece from His forth saying “My God, My God, why have you forsaken?” Those words express abandonment, a feeling I have felt way too many times by God. This saying comforts me because it reminds me that Jesus knows what it means to feel forsaken and it also reminds me that God abandoned Jesus on the cross for that moment, just so that I would never feel forsaken by Him.

Many theologians say that when Jesus cries out the words My God, My God, why have you forsaken?” it is in that very moment that all of the sin of the world and wrath meant for us came upon Him, which means that at that moment He was separated from God. How crazy is that? God abandon His holy and perfect son for imperfect and unholy people like you and I. In Jesus being forsaken, We are accepted. I pray you may know that God is inviting you into his mercy and love. He is calling for you.

Here is my reflection:

Mark 15:33-34

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

(God was silent)

That is the cry of my life.

At the footsteps of my home where I patiently waited for my father but he wouldn’t show. “ My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?”

But He answered me.

It is in the memories of that touch underneath my garment as a young girl that my heart cries “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?”

But He answers me.

It was at the end of my broken relationship that I cried “ My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?”

But He answered me.

It was in the hardest moments of my marriage that I’ve cried “ My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?”

But He answered me.

It was in the complicated circumstances of my son’s birth that I cried “ My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?”

But He answered me.

It is in my anxiety and depression that I cry “ My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?”

But He answers me.

For God’s silence towards His holy Son was so that I may never feel forsaken by Him.

His cry leads to my acceptance.


Dear New Mom.

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Dear New Mom,

Let me affirm you by saying this “you’re going to be okay“.

Giving birth is no joke.  Nothing about it is easy: whether you had a natural birth, a C-section, epidural, or no meds, the experiences might be different, but the pain is a feeling that is inescapable but so is the feeling of joy and love

The wait is finally over and that tiny little baby that once spent months kicking around in your stomach is finally here.

Now I’m sure you’re physically and emotionally exhausted its hard work being a Mom!

Remember: You don’t have to do everything! Dishes? Laundry? Cleaning around the house? That can wait. That may sound crazy but trust me they CAN wait. It’s important to remember that your health and well-being matter too.

You are entering an unfamiliar role. The truth is that no matter how many books you read or advice you get from others, you’re never fully ready to be a parent. That’s why we have Google, HA! I’ve survived motherhood with help from the internet, my mom, friends and calling Calvin’s pediatrician often, maybe too often!

It’s been more than a year now, and there is still so much to learn about Motherhood. Here is one reminder I tell myself every day, “Have grace with yourself and give yourself some credit for all the small and big wins.” Some days will be really great, and other days you’ll be completely exhausted, but even in tough times, there are things to look forward to. There is a tiny someone to look forward to.

“Are You Nursing?”

   Breastfeeding was one of the most discouraging parts about being a first-time mom for me. My supply was low, and Calvin wouldn’t latch on correctly.  I often cried from the pain and my nipples were sore from nursing and pumping. I felt of shame for using formula, because I felt like my body failed my son. Which meant I failed him. (But that was not true)

So, how’s nursing going for you? Are you seeing some of the same difficulties of breastfeeding as a new mom?

I’ll tell you this, if you’re breastfeeding exclusively, or just pumping, or decided on using formula you’re killing it! Whichever way you choose to feed your baby do not let the opinions of others or social media make you feel ashamed.

You know what’s best for your baby and family. Remember that everyone’s situation is different. Our bodies are unique; some moms overproduced milk, some can’t get a drop. Some moms have inverted nipples, some have babies that are tongue tie, and some have babies who refuse boob.

    I wish I would have embraced my situation, I’d like to believe that I would have enjoyed Calvin more. I was exhausting myself, mentally and emotionally, just to meet Calvin’s needs, making myself miserable in the process. The reality was that breastmilk was not something I could fully provide my son with. I was attached to the pump machine most of the day, hoping to get enough milk and always felt like it wasn’t enough. I am proud that I exclusively pumped for seven months straight, but if I could do it again, I would have stopped way before that.

“Take Advice with a Grain of Salt”

    I’m sure during your pregnancy a lot of people gave you advice, so prepare yourself for the same, endless stream opinions, suggestions and commentary even when you don’t ask for it. Some advice will encourage you and be beneficial, however, some well-intentioned counsel can cause stress and insecurity. As a first-time mom, I had people speaking into how I was caring for Calvin and most of it made me more anxious than relieved. I had to learn that I can listen, but I don’t have to take it as a judgment on my motherhood. I had to learn that it won’t always apply to me. Sometimes, the wise “tips and tricks” that worked for one person, won’t apply to you, your baby or your family.

You won’t please everyone, and you don’t have to because it’s your baby. But yeah, you get the point. People will make thoughtless comments. Don’t let those comments bother you, they do not define the kind of mom you are. Over time you will learn to pick and choose what advice to take.

Asking for help”

You don’t have to always be supermom, so be okay with asking for help.

You’ll need it.

   Many times, I didn’t ask for help because I didn’t want to seem inadequate as a mom. The truth is as a first-time mom, I didn’t know what I was doing, and it was silly of me to think I didn’t need help.

I was exhausted, I had to pump every three hours, I barely showered and cleaning up was the last thing on my mind. I’m so glad our family helped us in the first four months. They would do our laundry, clean, cook, watch Calvin while we slept, and we had friends bring us food. People want to serve you, especially those that love you. So, tell them what you need, and don’t be afraid to say, ” Today I need help”. (If you’re not a parent, please reach out. Make yourself available to your friends.)

“Self-Care”

   What does that even look like when you have a crying baby, you haven’t showered, and you have spit up all over your shirt? It means that you take time out of the day or week to care for yourself. It means you acknowledge your mental health and emotional health.

As I’ve mentioned before in my last blog post “Postpartum Depression” is real for many moms. Every morning check in with yourself.

Ask yourself,

How you are feeling?“, “what thoughts have you been thinking about?“.

There came a time when I was so drained that I didn’t shower, get up from the couch, I cried a lot and I was anxious around Calvin. Have you felt that way lately? If you have, reach out to someone or share this with your spouse. Ask a friend to pray for you.

This is self-care.

    Remember your body and hormones are trying to get back to normal, you’re trying to figure out how to care for someone else that is fragile and tiny with no experience. So, take walks, find time to eat or go to Target, I spent so many days there during my maternity leave that I just loved it. It gave me fresh air, along with that spending time alone did me well. It’s okay to say you want to have space from your baby and mom duties. That’s completely normal, some days I feel like waiting at the door while holding Calvin for my husband to get home just so he can take him and when he does, I often feel like I can rest.

“Comparison is the Thief of Joy”

DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER MOMS!!! 

Did you hear that?

DO NOT COMPARE YOUR BABY TO OTHER BABIES!!! 

    I still have to tell this to myself every day. Trust me, I know it’s harder than it sounds. It’s so easy to get wrapped up with what other moms are doing or what milestones other babies have accomplished that your baby has not, that you rob yourself of the joy you are experiencing.

   Every time I looked on Instagram, I felt disappointed, thoughts like ” I wish I was that mom”, “wow, she’s getting so much breast milk, I wish I was,” and “she must be an amazing mom staying at home with her baby.” Telling myself these things weren’t wrong, but they were deadly if I used them to identify myself as a failure of a mom.

   Every mom experiences motherhood differently. You will not always have the house cleaned up or make arts and crafts every day. You know what most moms do, they spend time smelling their babies, trying to catch up on sleep or binge watch on their favorite show while they pump and attempt to eat something. Don’t worry, on days when you have the energy, you’ll work hard enough to leave the house without a dirty diaper or crying baby and if you can do that… that’s a win!

    The worse one was comparing Calvin to other babies born around him. I spent so much time comparing him to other babies and wishing that he would be at their level that I robbed myself from enjoying the milestones Calvin was achieving. The truth was that Calvin was premature, he was going to be delayed and yes it sucked like hell but that was my reality. I could either be miserable about it or embrace it and be thankful that he was doing just fine. He was like no other baby, He was Calvin my son and he would grow at his own pace. So, sit back and relax, enjoy your baby. Watch him or she grows before your eyes, don’t sweat the little things. Our kids are brilliant in their own way, this is the first lesson I learned about being a mom… it’s one I have to remember for the rest of my time raising Calvin.

“Working mom – Stay at home mom”

    Whichever one you are, be proud of it. Each title comes with its own responsibilities and struggles. As a working a mom I find it hard to balance my roles between being a mom and worker. When I was home on maternity leave for three months, I had a hard time adjusting to always being home and caring for Calvin alone. I love the working mom and the stay at home mom because they both are working towards the same goal, to care, love and provide to their children in their own “unique way. I had so many people question why I didn’t stay home with Calvin and making remarks as if it was an easy decision.

It wasn’t, it was the hardest decision I had to make as a mother.

    Two factors played a role in this decision, I never intended to stay home and as a family, we couldn’t afford for me to stay home. I’ve read so many moms judge working moms on social media for having their kid at daycare or going back to work, it’s discouraging. Am I less of a mother because Calvin is at daycare? No. I’m a great mom and no one can tell me otherwise.

    Interesting enough, the stay at home mom also gets judged. Do you really think that the stay at home mom stays home, sleeps in, takes a bath, her kids all well-behaved and her day is perfect? It’s not. She wakes up when the baby wakes up, whatever time that is. Her child is by her side 24/7 and she spends most of the time interacting with her kids than adults unless she goes out or maybe gets a visit. As you can see, they both have different struggles. So, mama, whichever one you choose to be…

It’s the one you see fit for you to be.

“Your Partner is your teammate”

Your partner is as clueless as you are.

He is on your team.

    It’s hard to acknowledge that when you’re both sleep deprived, the baby is crying nonstop, you haven’t left the house in days and you’ve probably been miscommunicating over small things. It’s been a rough season for us honestly. I’m not sure we’ve mastered this area yet. Balancing marriage and parenting can be really hard, and if you can relate know that you are not alone. I guess I can say that we’re on a mission to remembering that our marriage comes first, and we need each other to survive. I’ll get back to you on this one.

But, remembering He is on my team.

 

 

I hope this letter encourages you and reminds you that you’re not alone. Many women have been in your shoes, we want to love, encourage and stand with you.

 

love,

transparent city mama 

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Life After Baby, One Year​ Postpartum

     I’ve been a mom a little over a year now, such a long, exhausting and beautiful year. Calvin is fifteen months and life after birth has been quite interesting. Between the sleepless nights and long playful afternoons, motherhood has definitely gotten the best of me. It’s nothing that I imagined but definitely is not what most people made it out to be “ the end of my life”. I recall this past year being the beginning of my new life. One that I would choose over and over again.

   When we brought Calvin home for the first time Ruben and I were scared and we had no idea what life would look like for us now that Calvin was here. We were clueless when it came to baby basics like folding a stroller or the fact that you can simply use the car seat in a cab without carrying the base everywhere. Ha! I still laugh at that. The big and small things about parenting transform you, they lead you to make hard decisions and also many sacrifices.

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     Entering motherhood has changed the way I see myself and everything around me. It has set my eyes on things more important and has been a breath of fresh air in every way. Children have a way of teaching you to be present no matter how distracted you are, they challenge and grow you in ways that you never saw yourself growing. People ask me all the time ” how has motherhood changed you?” and as I say said goodbye to 2018, I’ve reflected on some things that have grown me and things I’ve learned this past year, these are just a few of them.

words of affirmation

Words of Affirmation

      I’ve never been someone who felt loved by words, it’s the love language all the way at the bottom of my list. Before being a mom, I was an “acts of service” and “quality time person”, but now words mean so much to me. If you don’t know this already, motherhood comes with lots of insecurities. I think the last time I felt this insecure was when I became a wife. I wasn’t prepared for how emotionally, mentally and physically being a mom takes a toll on you. It seems like all you ever get is criticism. “You’re not doing this”, “ you look tired all the time”, “ you didn’t breastfeed?”, “wow, he’s in daycare?, I would never leave my kid in daycare”. All of these words have discouraged me, but I’ve also had people encourage me in this season. I realized how grateful I am for words now. They have a way with lifting you up, especially in a season where I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. This is one of the reasons I started blogging, I want to encourage other moms and others that could relate to me in whatever season they are in.

Postpartum Depression

    It’s real, very real and very scary for moms. As your body tries to recover after birth, your mind and emotions also try to do the same. According to doctors, Postpartum Depression happens days or weeks after a mom gives birth. It can be due to the hormonal drop you experience after birth but also due to lack of sleep, worry, anxiety, and even lack of social interaction. I can honestly say that my postpartum depression happened right after giving birth. As I shared before Calvin was premature and therefore I only got a few minutes to hold him before they took him away to the NICU. I spent two days in the hospital trying to pump but had very low supply and I spent two weeks going back and forth to the hospital to see Calvin there since he couldn’t come home with us. I cried a lot, my mood would change often and I was mentally exhausted.

     When we finally brought him home I think it hit me harder. I couldn’t handle the lack of sleep, Calvin crying, being alone and feeling like I was failing as a mom by not breastfeeding. A lot of days I would call Ruben crying to come home from work because I didn’t want to be with Calvin. If he would cry for hours, I would go to my room and also cry. I told a friend months after, that during those months I felt like I understood why very often moms are inclined to hurt their babies and it’s scary. When I felt scared of myself I would cry out to God to help me be calm and give me the wisdom to care for Calvin. I was thankful that my family and friends helped us a lot. My mom would sleep over to help me with him so I could sleep, friends would come over to visit and bring food and Ruben did all the night shifts, I really learned to depend on people in this season but most importantly in God. He really kept me sane and covered my mind and thoughts in days when I felt at my lowest.

The Supermom Mentality

     This “supermom mentality” is what I think moms develop after giving birth. It’s the ability to believe that you can conquer anything or smack the hell out of someone who hurts your kid. ( but I got Jesus… so he holds me down) I feel like when you become a mom you feel like you can do anything! It’s like a supernatural strength that you grow and it comes from knowing that you have someone to care for. I don’t have time to complain about what needs to get done, I just have to do it. If I need to go out and have no one to watch Calvin, I still have to go even with the stroller, diaper bag, and a tantrum baby. If you’re a city mom, you know that’s not easy. However, this mentality is why I work full-time, attend grad school, volunteer in ministry with youth, and blog. I feel like I can do it all, but I can’t. I think I’m learning to have balance, it’s great that I’ve developed this sense of strength but it can be difficult trying to do it all. This mentally also means knowing it’s okay if I can’t do everything. I can be a super mom doing what I can and the rest leaving it in God’s hands trusting that He will do what I can’t.

Faith

    This one has been the hardest one. As someone who was involved in church so much, not being in the community for the first three months after birth really disconnected me from God more than I already was. I was so exhausted and angry that things were so hard at the beginning with Calvin that reading my word and praying was the last thing I wanted to do. I’ve struggled to make time for God and my spiritual growth this past year and this is the most important piece of my life. Having Calvin has shaken the way I see Jesus and his love for me. I understand it more and value His love but I also see the weight of my responsibility as a mom. If I’m not growing in Jesus, I cannot reflect Jesus to my son. Ultimately if I’m not growing I’m dying spiritually, so it’s easier for me to act on my flesh. Which means I’ll be impatient with Calvin or yell at Ruben for failing at something small, which I’ve seen myself do a lot this past year. I need Jesus more than ever now and I desire to grow more in Him more than anything.

Postpartum Body

    I’ve always struggled with my appearance, after giving birth my body started changing. I definitely put on more weight. I’m constantly changing my outfits and I only wear high-waisted jeans to avoid the stomach pouch that I hate so much. A lot of moms struggle with their body after birth. We all echo the same questions, “what will my body look like after?”, “how can I get rid of stretch marks?”, “will my boobs sag? “, ” will my spouse still find me attractive?”. All of these are real questions and insecurities, I feel all of them. I’m learning every day to embrace my body and be proud of it. Some days I can feel really beautiful, other times not so much. This is what encourages me ” I gave birth to a whole baby!” that’s one hell of a power! If you’re reading this and you can relate, I want to challenge you to cover yourself in truth and affirmation. You are beautiful and honorable. Yes, your body will change, it won’t be the same again and that’s okay, embrace it. I want to increase my confidence through self-care and eating better for this new year. What goals do you have for your self-care? Body? Mind?

Working Mother

    Going back to work felt so strange after Calvin. The night before I went back to work I rocked him to sleep and cried. I was worried about leaving him and who would take care of him, I felt guilty about not staying home with him and transitioning back into the real world was difficult. Adjusting was so emotional that two months after going back full time to work, I went part-time. As a first-time mom, I just didn’t know how to be apart from Calvin, all I thought about was him and it was even worse when he was finally at daycare. I think this transition is so hard because so many factors play a role in it. You might have paid maternity leave or you may not and only have a few weeks with your newborn. If you’re nursing, you’ll be pumping at work and also trying to keep up with your workload, which can become exhausting. Maybe you won’t have a family member to watch your newborn and that will make it hard for you to trust someone else.

     For me it was both, my family was too far and after a while of pumping at work, I couldn’t keep up with my workload and pumping and my supplies kept dropping which means my milk supply was at its lowest. Being a working mom is bittersweet though. I get to be outside my home and talk to adults ( which is something you get very little of when you’re a stay at home mom in the city during the winter) You also get to miss your kids and spend time with yourself. As a mom you need that often, I think that’s how I survived this first year. Work gave me freedom in some way and it allowed me to care for Calvin in a healthy way that meant I needed to trust God more with my son.

Friendships 

      I’ve been really grateful for all the friends I’ve had in this season. I remember moms sharing with me about many of their friends slowly spending less and less time around after they became moms and this can be real for many mothers. Motherhood is lonely sometimes, especially if your closest friends aren’t moms. The truth is life happens and you’re in a different season as them. That’s something we can’t change. In this season, in all honesty, my attitude is this “ if I haven’t seen you in months or heard from you, no hard feelings but I’m not looking for you.” Yup, it sounds salty but I’m just not in a place to seek after friendships that aren’t around. I can’t pick up and go as I please like before, now I have to wait for Ruben to get home or find someone to watch Calvin. Invites to hangouts?, I barely get those and I’ve come to be okay with it. It’s about being grateful for those that are around and understanding that things change. God has a way of providing people in your life when you need them.

    I haven’t lacked friendships nor in people watching Calvin so I can go to school or go on dates with hubby. He has placed specific people to serve me without feeling like I needed to give something back.  I have so much going on that mentally I just don’t have the energy to pursue friendships right now like I once did. Perhaps it’s just a season but I’m learning to value friendships more and desire ones that value my family and build me up.

Loving Your Partner 

     Keeping up with your marriage is just as important as caring for your children. It needs to be nurtured and loved. Trust me, nothing about doing that is easy with a baby. After Calvin all I wanted to do was rest, bedtime meant time for sleep. For a while, my husband felt like we were co-parenting or just roommates. Yup, that bad. I slowly realized that it was unloving of me to not make time to love and date my husband. Children should not change the way you love your spouse, in fact, it should increase your desire to serve, love and create spaces for you both to spend time together. I can truly say that I have grown a deeper love for my husband after having Calvin. He is one heck of a father and husband, and I’m grateful to have someone who fathers my son so well. Those late nights when Calvin is crying his eyes out, he’s the one getting up just so I can sleep enough to go to work the next day. I have to constantly remind myself that my husband and I are one together and he also desires to be desired and affirmed.

     I hope to continue caring for my marriage, going on more dates, affirming my husband with gratitude and of course killing the “ I’m tired “ excuse to avoid sex. Sex is a beautiful thing within marriage, God desired for us to be intimate in this way. I truly believe that it’s important for you both to continue pursuing each other and displaying gratitude for each other. Thanking your husband for waking up earlier to stay with the baby and letting you sleep in is something to acknowledge and be thankful for, not brushed off by saying ” well, you’re just doing what you should be doing because you’re a dad now” (which I’ve thought so many times). We were able to survive this by acknowledging that we both were clueless and we needed each other to survive a lot of the struggles of parenting.

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I have so much to say about life after Calvin but I’m thankful I got to grow in each one of these areas and also learn things about myself. I pray that they would speak to you and also prepare you if you’re a mom to be or a new mom. If you’re a new mom, how has that been for you? Leave a comment, I’d love to know.

 

love,

Transparent city mama


One year later…#Nicumom

September was #Nicuawareness month and also Calvin’s first birthday. I spent a lot of time reflecting on his birth story. Since it’s been a year, I felt like I could share a few things about my experience as a NICU mom. For a first time mom, I often wish this wouldn’t be my pregnancy story. But it was and it was painful. So here is a bit of my story with Calvin.

   I had a few people ask about whether we had planned to get pregnant and the answer is no, we didn’t. It was a rough season for us in our marriage and getting pregnant was the last thing I thought could occur. But God thought otherwise. Each time we got new pictures of Calvin reality would hit us, we were about to be parents no matter the condition of our marriage and the bigger reality was that God was in control of it all. Watching each sonogram reminded me that God was knitting Calvin in my womb and did not require my help. He just required that I trust him. He had planned this moment even before I was born and He had planned for Calvin to be born for this exact season whether we were ready or not. I’d like to think now that God’s plan was perfect, I had it wrong when I thought that Calvin would be the joy we needed for our marriage because what God was going to teach us was that we needed Him more than ever. Our joy alone could only come from Him and only He could heal what sin had broken.

“Perhaps you were born for such a time as this.” – Esther 4:14

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Part Two

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During my 18 week appointment, I really got to see Calvin’s growth. We got a perfect heartbeat and even got to see a little hand. What was such a beautiful moment quickly got tainted by fear. The sonogram technician finished taking a look at Calvin and said: “ your cervix is a little short, I’m gonna run this by the doctor”. I could feel that that wasn’t good. The doctor shared that my cervix was a lot shorter and I was at high risk of going into preterm labor. I’m not sure I really understood what she meant and I didn’t know what questions to ask. So when I got home I did the one thing I was told not to do ever, I Googled. I started googling what it meant to have a short cervix, reading about moms that had miscarriages later in their pregnancies and some said that their babies were born too early so they had to stay in the NICU for a while. I could feel my heart fill with fears of that being my case. I had this whole thing planned out and right now it wasn’t going according to my plan. I became frustrated and upset. I wasn’t understanding why things weren’t going my way. For six weeks I would have to get checked and be on a treatment to make sure my cervix was growing instead of shortening. Those weeks were the most miserable weeks of my life but I did get to see Calvin every-time, which gave me something to look forward too. At the end of those weeks, the doctor would determine if I would need to get stitched or continue the treatment hoping that I would make it. Eventually, my cervix grew enough and everything seemed clear. I mean she even said it “ if you were to go into early labor, it definitely wouldn’t be because of your cervix”. Welp, at 33 weeks I began having contractions and I was definitely going into labor.

During this time I felt like God was going to allow this pregnancy to play out the way He wanted it too and this is where I couldn’t say that no matter what happens He was still good.

But God is still good no matter how I feel towards Him, my affections for him at the moment don’t change who He really is good.

Part Three

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      At this point we had spent two days in the hospital, I was monitored all day and given shots in order to delay my contractions but nothing was stopping them. Calvin was coming and I was under extreme distress. The doctors really encouraged that I take the epidural in order to be able to have a vaginal birth. The hours before the delivery time were a little crazy, my body was exhausted, I couldn’t eat food and I was connected to so many wires that I could barely move. Right before giving birth, there was only one nurse helping between two delivery rooms and the doctor had only a few mins to deliver Calvin and move on to the next room.

After my water broke and my cervix dilated from 3 cm, 5 cm and quickly to 9 cm, at this point it was time. The doctor put on her gloves and she said “ it’s gonna be okay, you’ll do great. When I say push, you push and hold. Push and hold.” Those 15 minutes felt like hours, the doctor was cheering me on the whole time, my mom was a hot mess and my husband, he was recording, crying and talking a lot. Lol

But then we heard him. We heard his cry for the first time. That’s the moment when you feel like the whole world stops, what was once growing in you was now physically here. Calvin was slimy and dirty, his shiny black hair filled his head and back and everything about him was wrinkly; he was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. This was truly love at first sight. I got the chance to hold him and tell him how much he was loved over and over.

Finally, the anticipation was over, he had arrived. We got our first family picture but just as quick as that shot was over, Calvin would be taken away to be cared for at the NICU. That night there was no private room available for Ruben to stay with me. So I stayed alone sharing a room with a mama that had her baby. This would be the loneliest night of my life, still a year later that night leaves a sting.

All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God! Thank him to his face! For his anger is for a moment, but across a lifetime there is only love. The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter. Psalm 30:5.

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 After a week I was done. I didn’t want to talk to God, I was bitter and honestly, I didn’t want to hear that “ God had a purpose for this” because what I was feeling was abandoned and unloved by Him. I remember Ruben once saying to me “ I know this sucks, it hurts and it feels unfair, but we need to find things to be grateful for so that we can survive this.”.

And there were things to be grateful for:

•Calvin’s condition wasn’t so complicated. He just simply was early.
•We were never, ever alone at the hospital, people stopped by to bring us food and keep us company.
•We were learning to care for Calvin from the nurses who were attending us.
•Our home was not set up for Calvin yet, so this gave us time to prepare for our little boy.

 

We had things to be grateful for and I was not seeing them in midst of our pain. No matter how angry I was with God at that moment, He made sure to remind me that He was near. He is always near to the broken in spirit.

For my amiga Roberta, I thank her being a warrior mom and giving me strength during this season. Her story and her son’s Kayden’s life will always remind me that God listens to our prayers. He knew I needed someone that could say “ I know boo, I know how it feels”. He is a God of miracles. #nicumomstrong.

Part Four

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I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to perfectly describe my experience in the NICU, But if I can sum up the way I felt after being cared for by the wonderful staff who helped us at every step of the way- it would be “hopeful”.Everyone is hopeful that each baby there would eventually be healthy enough to go home. Because the reality is- not every baby that is in the NICU will make it back home.

I can describe the sounds you hear: Tons of monitors going off, babies and parents crying, doctors whispering, families talking. For me, the monitors were what broke the silence of being with Calvin, and scared me the most. You just never know which monitor is going off and even when you’re embracing your newborn baby, you can’t help but worry about what those beeping monitors mean- both for your child, and the other babies. I think if you stay at the NICU long enough, after you leave, it feels like you’ve developed PTSD. Even after coming home, I could still hear them.

I spent two weeks in the NICU traveling back and forth- early morning to past midnight. Some days I just sat in front of Calvin’s incubator weeping, and other days I was given the opportunity to hold him for hours. When I wasn’t with him, I was in a room pumping to get at least one or two ounces of milk. Calvin struggled to eat, which is why he needed a feeding tube. He wouldn’t latch on to my breast, and my milk supply was so low that it wasn’t enough to feed him all day. That was depressing and exhausting.

But out of all those things, the hardest part was going home empty-handed.

That’s what breaks you…

     I think that even a year later it still hurts, but I have hope. So, Nicu mama I’m praying for you. May strength and comfort be upon you. May your baby keep fighting and may you not lose hope, be hopeful. 

Love,

Transparent City Mama


A Marriage That Endures

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 My husband and I will make three years married this November. The last few years have felt like the longest years of my life! People weren’t joking when they said that marriage ain’t easy. I think that Ruben and I can agree in saying that this marriage has been hard work, with an emphasis on the word HARD. We’re a very honest couple, and we don’t shy away from telling people how we feel- and especially letting each other know how we feel.

For the last three years, I’ve cried, yelled, cursed, slammed doors, and have had every tantrum that comes with a wife who’s used to running when things get tough. Marriage teaches you a lot about yourself and reveals the things you hide from others.

But in this covenant, there is no hiding. I can’t pick up my bags and run, I can’t fake the funk because my husband knows me. He knows the good, ugly, happy, and sad parts of me- yet he has chosen to love me.

     The crazy part is… I hate running! I get all sweaty, I get tired, and it’s just not something I like doing. But when it comes to confrontation- oh man… I can run. I spent most of my youth running home just to avoid getting into trouble with my mom. At seventeen, I left home trying to avoid feeling the shame of failing to meet my mother’s expectations and when things got hard in relationships, I avoided them or ended them. At the age of 20, I left home again, in order to live a life away from accountability. Till one day I decided that I was tired of running from hardship, and ran straight into God’s arms.

I call this “the surrender”.

       But then I met Ruben, and we started dating. And I thought “ I love this man, I’m in a safe place and he knows everything about me. I’m done with running” ha! and hardship began.

Ruben and I were great friends before we started dating. He’s actually one of the people who spoke into my life when I ended my six years long “on and off” relationship, and became a Christian. Eventually, we started dating and he decided he wanted to marry me, but in between our dating life and marriage, came some difficult trials.

I was scared of getting hurt. I carried baggage from my old relationship, and I was trying to figure out who I was. I also consider myself to be a very independent, strong-minded woman- which can be great sometimes, and terrible in others.  But much of my past played a huge role in our relationship. When Ruben and I would argue, my response would be “I’m done”. If I didn’t “feel” right about our relationship “I’m done” would be my way out. Many insecurities came to light, that I had been holding on too from my past. Ruben then became very insecure about our relationship and himself. Which eventually all led up to us having sex before marriage- and that was one the biggest hardships we’ve had to endure as believers.

    That significant moment only gave me more reasons to run. I wasn’t running because I didn’t love Ruben, I was running from shame. The shame of having sex before marriage when I had vowed to remain pure again until my wedding day. I was angry, and I felt like Ruben did not lead me away from falling into temptation. So I blamed him for all of it, not realizing that the reason why I was angry that my pride had taken a hit- I wasn’t this “ perfect” Christian. I was broken, and God was using this moment to expose much of the ugliness that I had tried to convince myself wasn’t there- but it was.

       But- by his grace, we made it to the altar. We got married… and yet I kept running.

We were both miserable. Our first year was a nightmare set on fire. But God has been in the midst of it all. He’s been present in the times I’ve said I would much rather be alone than married, he was around the times Ruben was knocking on our bedroom door while I wept inside. I know that this marriage has been able to endure hardship because of Him.  I think I’m able to understand the meaning of endurance because of my husband. He’s fought a lot for this marriage, he’ll always be fighting for it and God has shown me true and raw love. The kind of love that chases you as you’re running through the woods into the darkest place you can find and when you get there that person wants to go into the darkness with you until your ready to see the light.

      I remember once hearing a sermon called ” Jesus wants the rose.” Matt Chandler, who was preaching this sermon was telling a story about a time he listened to a pastor preach at a conference and the anger he felt about what he was saying. The pastor started by throwing a rose into the crowd and everyone had to touch and pass it until it got back to him. When he got the rose he held it up and said: ” who would want this?”. The rose was falling apart, damaged, and it looked worthless.  Matt Chandler said, ” I wanted to scream, Jesus wants the rose!”. He continues on with telling his audience ” He wants you!” He wants the rose that’s falling apart and feeling worthless. I remember weeping when he said that. After ending my longtime relationship I grew super insecure about myself and guys. Accepting love from people is very scary, it makes you feel vulnerable and fearful. And if you’re a runner like me,  you’ll start to run. But why are you running? Why are you so afraid of being loved? I think these are questions I often felt like God was asking me. I think for me it’s the part of being real and vulnerable and maybe having someone not embrace you and not endure with you. That is scary.

But God, he knew what he was doing when he allowed Ruben and I to get married. I think that’s the only part that brings me comfort. He chose us, and he is the only one that can keep us together. So if you’re very much like me and you’re still running… stop. God is trying to catch you, embrace you and love you. You know what’s crazy? God loves me more than my husband does, but he loves my husband just as much as He loves me. Because my husband is as broken as I am, we both are runners. I’m not sure I would want to spend the rest of my days running with anyone else but him. I pray that as we enter a new year into this marriage we would grow more in love, endure well, grow in patience and sacrifice more for one another.

You are not too much for anyone, not even a Perfect God. 

Stop running. ( note to self ) 

 

love, 

transparent city mama