6 Things I’ve Observed About Being A Parent In The Past 5 Days

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hannah&ezraOn September 18, 2014 (that’s five days ago) at 11:45 am, I became a parent. I’m sure all my Facebook friends are completely sick of all my “hey look at my kid!” pictures I’m always Instagramming or Tweeting (sorry not sorry), but it’s because I feel like the world deserves to get a daily (or hourly) viewing of the world’s most perfect baby. Because really, he is. Lying there on the operating table (I had a C-Section), I marveled when I first saw him. I couldn’t believe God would give us something so…perfect…in every way. I know this is something probably every mother feels when she sees her child for the first time, but I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the emotions I would feel when it was my turn (nor was I prepared for the intense nausea I would feel at that moment which would, if it were even possible, perhaps dampen the moment a bit).

While it’s only been 4 days, and in reality, I still have everything to learn about parenting, here are a few things I’ve observed about being a brand new mom:

1.    I cry all the time.

Not what you think. I don’t usually cry because I’m sad lately. While I believe Postpartum Depression is a very real thing, I don’t think I’ve experienced it yet. My mom says I don’t have PPD, I have PPH (Postpartum Happiness). I cry because I am simply overwhelmed by how beautiful this gift from God is—so much that I could literally just sit and watch him sleep for hours. I cry because I can’t believe how richly blessed we are. I cry because I’m so touched by the outpouring of love by so many who have showered us with love, encouraging words, and gifts to welcome our son into the world. I cry because I am so afraid that tomorrow he’ll be bigger and different and I’ll never again have this moment to cherish (okay that part is a little sad).

sleeping ezra

2.    Things that are a big deal suddenly don’t matter.

As I was gazing, enamored, at my son, I said to my mom right before we came home from the hospital, “It’s funny…all the things that used to matter to me.” I keep having to go through my phone to delete pictures so I can take more pictures of Ezra (that’s my perfect baby’s name), and it’s crazy to me that all the things that used to be important to me just aren’t so much anymore. I have a ridiculous amount of cat pictures. I take way too many pictures of food before I eat it. I used to think an awful lot about my hair and makeup. Even in the past month, I’ve cared a great deal more about how my house is decorated than I probably ever will now. I cared a lot more about girly drama than I think I’ll allow myself to care about now. I used to think poop was gross. Okay, poop is still gross, but not when it’s in the diaper of my baby. Then it’s a celebration because I know he’s getting the nutrients he needs. I used to think urine in your face was about the grossest thing that could happen to you. Then it happened to me twice in 24 hours, and you know what? I’m still alive. And I’ve learned a thing or two about pee-pee shower prevention.

And don’t even get me started on the delivery. In many ways, it was a nightmare that pre-baby Hannah would probably need therapy to overcome the terrors of, but post-baby Hannah sees that the end result far outweighs anything it took to have it. John 16:21 says “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world” and it’s absolutely true. The moment I heard that first cry, I didn’t care about the hours of labor which turned out to be for nothing, I didn’t care about the failed epidural, I didn’t care about the risky surgery—all of that was petty stuff that happened in the past. My one reality was the gift God had given me, and I was happy.


I’m still so flawed on so many levels it’s embarrassing, but your priorities quickly have a way of changing when you transition in this way—suddenly everything is about his health, his happiness, his future. Everything else is just stuff.

smiling ezra

3.    Things that don’t matter suddenly do.

But you just said…? Right. Everything flip flops. I used to not know anything, or care anything about things like diapers, pacifiers, car seats, or anything of the kind. Now I can’t put a pacifier in my baby’s mouth without researching and seriously pondering all the possible ramifications—all the ways this decision could affect his health and happiness. I can’t eat or drink something without thinking about how it might affect his breast milk. I can’t watch someone hold him without wondering what kinds of germs they may be giving him. I used to laugh about the little things about which parents got all bent out of shape. Now most of those “little things” don’t seem funny to me at all. What’s overwhelming to me is that these are all things that affect his physical health—these little things are not even comparable to the things that will affect his spiritual health–his eternity. I’m just thankful that I can go to the perfect Parent who will give me wisdom for all the decisions–big and small.


 4. I appreciate my mother more than I ever have before.

Guys, I’ve always loved my mom, but in the past few days, my mom has appeared more like a superhero to me than anything else. She has been my rock, my cheerleader, my defender, my housekeeper, my cook, my babysitter, my nurse, my sounding board, my counselor, my best friend. I simply cannot imagine doing anything I’ve done this past week without her. There’s something so poignant and beautiful about understanding firsthand what it’s like to love your own child, and now that I have my own, I see so much more why she cares so much about me, why she is so willing to sacrifice so much time (away from her husband, I might add) and energy to help me. But much more than that, I feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude for all the sacrifices she’s made for me since she brought me home from the hospital…I see now that she was completely willing to lose herself fully in order to give me a beautiful existence. I see that every decision she and my dad ever made for me was a prayerful one and often a heart wrenching one. I will understand this more and more as I continue my journey as a parent, but for right now, I simply hope I will be able to one day do for my daughter (if I ever have one) what she’s doing for me right now.  It’s truly the most loved I’ve ever felt in my life.


5.    Nothing is more beautiful than watching my husband bond with my son.

ben & ezra

I’m falling in love with my husband all over again, but in a much different way than I did in college. Watching the man who has always been afraid to hold babies begging to hold ours and rushing home to be with him every day is fascinating and, in a way, profound to me. I think God makes that change in men when they become fathers, and it’s a wonder to behold.


6.    You just figure things out.


Everyone, and I mean everyone, will try to tell you how to take care of your baby. Everyone will tell you the horrors of their own delivery, and everyone will tell you all about all the best ways to feed your baby, put your baby to bed, clean your baby, diaper your baby, and anything else that has to do with how to parent your child. But everyone has a different opinion of what is best, and you just have to take it all in, save the sensible bits of advice, and throw away the silly ones. Then you just have to do the best you can, not stress out when things don’t go according to plan, and just figure out what works for your family. I may end up doing a Babywise schedule, I may not. I may cloth diaper eventually, I may not. I may end up buying expensive special baby detergent, I may not. But for right now, I’m going to do whatever works. I’m going to do whatever makes baby happy and healthy. And I’m determined to keep my advice to myself unless solicited for it in the future. Although I have a feeling my advice will be, “Try different things, but do what works best for your family, and don’t worry about what anyone thinks about it.” The only one you have to please is God, and God will be pleased if you love your child and teach him how to love Jesus. That’s it.

I’m sure I’ll be discovering lots of other things in the days to come (at this rate, in the minutes to come), but for right now, I’m busy. I have to stare at this face for an hour or so before heading to bed. You would too if you could.




A Letter To My Unborn Son

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cribMy Dear Son,

You’ve been growing inside my womb for more than 39 weeks now, and the doctor says that any day now you’ll be making your appearance and I’ll finally be holding you in my arms and experiencing motherhood for the first time. I can’t wait to touch you and smell you and hear your first cry. I can’t wait to finally see what you look like. I can’t wait to see what your father’s face looks like as he holds you for the first time.

Let me tell you a little about your parents since you’re about to be spending a whole lot of time hanging out with the two of us outside the comfort of this womb to which you’ve grown accustomed.  Your dad and I met and fell in love at Freed Hardeman University a little over four years ago. I was a goofy blonde RA majoring in English. I was passionate about travel, reading, writing, and midnight Taco Bell runs with all my crazy friends.  Your dad worked as a youth minister at the Independence church of Christ and as a manager at a sporting goods store most of his time at Freed, but at school, he was mostly known for his skilled, over-the-top pranks. We’ll tell you all about these soon (I think my favorite was when he walked around campus in a hazmat suit putting caution tape and signs on classroom doors canceling classes due to an outbreak of swine flu—he got in a little trouble for that one!).

I know this sounds crazy, but we both thought about you on that first date at Besso’s coffee shop at that little table in the corner (I went back and got that table from the owners 3 years later—it’s in our kitchen now). Even on that first date, we both thought about what it would be like if this worked out and we one day raised a child together. Neither of us spoke about that for many months to come, but even then, as we talked about everything from our families to homeschooling to mission work to cookie dough gelato, I was thinking about what it would be like if Ben was the future father of my child….if he would be your daddy.

We dated for about a year after that, and all the while, the question I was asking myself was how I would feel about it if you turned out to be just like your dad. When I realized that I would be overjoyed if you one day followed in his footsteps of humble servitude and righteous bravery, I knew he was the one I was going to spend my happily ever after with on this earth.

When your daddy asked me to marry him, we were thinking of you then, too. I’ll never forget how I felt when I said yes, agreeing to put my whole future (that includes you) in the hands of this wonderful, Godly man. The only bad thing about all this was that I knew my future last name and yours, too, would be one we’d have to slowly spell out every time anyone asked for our name for all of our time on this earth. Sorry about that, Son. I tried to get your daddy to just take my name (Colley) instead of his, but he had other ideas. 🙂

We were married on July 15, 2011.  Your daddy took me to the south of Florida and also Savannah, Georgia on our honeymoon. On the last full day of our two-week honeymoon, we went to Tybee Island and your mom had a wreck on a motor bike. For about an hour afterwards, I wasn’t thinking about you, your daddy, the wedding, or anything else besides how badly I wanted to get back on the bike and ride some more. This was due to a concussion, during which I forgot who your daddy even was!! Don’t worry–I remembered shortly thereafter while at the hospital and you returned to being a happy little twinkle in my eye again. 🙂

As soon as we returned from the honeymoon, we began our work with the Riverbend church of Christ in Dalton, Georgia, where your dad was the associate minister. We lived in Dalton for just a little over a year. During that time, I worked with high school special education students at the high school by our house. I was involved with community theater in Dalton. I also taught Bible class at Riverbend and we had many people over to our pretty little home surrounded by huge pine trees. It was the preacher’s house that belonged to Riverbend and we were so blessed to get to live in it. We had so much fun decorating and making it ours. We even had a “Wall of Shame” in it where we framed and hung mementos of your father’s school pranks, including the large framed black and white photo of your dad PhotoShopped to look just like the formal pictures of former FHU presidents in Old Main (It hung on the wall in all its ridiculous glory in Old Chapel Hall for months before someone caught it). Your dad stayed busy in Dalton with preaching, teaching, visiting, woodworking in his A-frame workshop and updating his new blog called “Plain Simple Faith.” I also started a blog called “The Heart of Hannah.” We spent lots of fun, quiet evenings playing board games or watching movies while we cuddled on the couch, both of which we still enjoy doing together!

In October of 2012, we moved to Louisville, Kentucky to work with the Cedar Springs church of Christ, where your dad was the pulpit minister. We lived in a beautiful white house that belonged to the church and sat in the church building parking lot.  Daddy and I were both very active at church, where we both taught classes, organized events, and helped to start the Lads to Leaders program, which we had no idea would affect our lives in the way it has now! I worked as a nanny to little children like you, and thought about you all the time as I got in lots of “practice” that would prepare me in some pretty great ways for my dream of being your stay-at-home mommy one day. Your dad and I loved date nights in the city.  Your dad was ecstatic to live in a city with Skyline chili. We made some very dear friends in Louisville that we love very much and we made a lot of happy memories there. We even got to take an incredible vacation to NYC while we lived there! My favorite memory of Louisville, however, is the day I found out you would be entering our lives in about 8 months. I sat on the bathroom floor and cried and cried with pure, overwhelming joy and excitement. You, my forever dream, were now a reality, a human being—an eternal soul–growing inside me. I’ll never forget the look on your daddy’s face when I gave him the news. His eyes filled with tears and he kissed me and held me and we laughed at the very idea of us two kids becoming parents! The responsibility was overwhelming to us, but so exciting. Your grandparents (both sets) and Uncle Caleb cried when we told them, too. A lot of happy tears have been shed over you, sweet boy! Piedaddy said we should name you Hootie Monroe when we told him. You’re going to love him and his hilarious, silly sense of humor. I can’t wait for you to experience Christmas at his house this year (it was at his house for Christmas when I first wondered if I might be pregnant—I couldn’t eat Christmas dinner! I knew something was up then).  Your other great grandparents (my dad’s parents), Great Grandma Garner, and Great Grandma and Grandpa Giselbach are also super excited about your arrival!

When your mom was a little past 20 weeks pregnant, your grandparents (my parents) hosted a gender reveal party at their house in Maysvillle, AL. This is when we found out in the presence of our family and closest friends that you were a son and not a daughter! My parents got up at that party and read the letters they had written to me right before I was born—just like this letter, but a lot older. 🙂 I pray that I will be half the parent to you that your grandparents were to me. I feel woefully inadequate as a mother, but I can’t say that I haven’t had amazing examples of what godly parenthood looks like. Your grandparents (both my parents and your dad’s parents) are incredible people who love the Lord and I know they’re going to teach you wonderful lessons both with words and their examples.  Never forego an opportunity to learn from them.

A few months after we found out we were having you, your daddy was offered a job working for Lads to Leaders. As passionate as your dad and I are about preparing young people to grow up and lead the Lord’s church toward heaven, this was an opportunity we couldn’t resist, and so we packed up and moved to Montgomery, Alabama when your mom was 7 months pregnant. Your dad also got a part-time job preaching for the Lightwood church of Christ in Marbury, a wonderful congregation that seems almost as excited about your arrival as we are! We lived in a lovely house we rented for two months from our friends Moises and Kimberley Pinedo, and it fit our needs perfectly until we found a house to call ours in Millbrook. This is going to be your house! That’s right–your crazy parents packed up and moved one last time before your arrival while your mama was almost 9 months pregnant! We’ve been living in this house for five days now, and we finally just got hot water! It was quite an ordeal house shopping, signing, and getting moved in (the moving truck broke down on the way, we realized we wouldn’t have running water for three days, we couldn’t find a non-smoking hotel room to stay in until then, among lots of other adventures!), but we are just so excited to finally have a place that belongs to us where we can make a home for you, sweet boy. Your grandmother (my mom) just left yesterday, but she stayed a few days to help us get your nursery all ready for you, and while the rest of the house may be a disaster right now, your room is ready and already filled with love and happy anticipation of you being in it! So many people have given us such beautiful gifts to help prepare us for taking care of you. You can feel the warmth of their love along with ours in your sweet little nursery.

That brings us to the present–September 12, 2014—just four days before your due date. I know that so many more blessed adventures await us in the future, and I know I’ll look back on this letter 20 years from now amazed at just how brand new and naive we were in so many ways. Things are going to be so different once you’ve been born. The beautiful thing is that it won’t just be me and your daddy anymore—we’re a family now, and I can’t wait to experience life as a family with you.

We are praying for you every day, Son. We’re praying that you will be raised in a home filled with love and laughter. We’re praying that you will be healthy and happy and responsible. We pray that you will learn to be strong but gentle, confident but humble, independent but sensitive to the needs of others. But more than that, we’re praying that you will be successful, for we know with all our hearts that true success doesn’t have anything to do with material wealth or earthly satisfaction, but that true success is living your life and going to heaven. We pray that God will give us enough strength, courage, and daily determination to be the kind of parents that will instill in you a deep love for God and for His church, above all else. The only thing that matters in life is making sure you’re going to heaven and bringing as many people with you as you can. We are going to teach you about God’s Word before you’re even able to understand what we’re saying, and will continue to do so until you have a family of your own one day, but don’t just take our word for it. Study on your own, and if anyone, including us, ever teaches you something that contradicts God’s Word, make sure you obey God regardless of what other people say.

We are also praying for the little girl you’ll marry one day, and for the parents who are going to be raising her. Choosing whom you will marry is such a hugely important decision, second only to deciding to put on Christ in baptism and live for Him daily. You will have to face so many big decisions in your life, but as long as you get those two right, God is going to bless you immeasurably.

I can’t wait to see your precious face. I can’t wait to see your little personality develop as you grow. Every time I walk in your sweet little nursery, I can’t believe how richly blessed I am to get to be your mother. You won’t understand this until you’re a parent, too, but it’s the most wonderful and the most terrifying feeling all at the same time. Some days I panic when I wonder if I even have what it takes to take care of myself, much less a human soul God has placed in my care. I am, and will always be, weak and mortal, and on some days, kind of an airhead (Sorry).  I will make tons of mistakes as a parent, and I apologize in advance for those. I will be completely and totally dependent on our God, the perfect Parent, as I make decisions that affect you. As inadequate as I feel, I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13), and that includes being a good mom.

While I can’t promise you that you’ll have a perfect mom (or anything even resembling that), I can promise you a few things. I promise to shower you with hugs and kisses all day long for as long as you’ll let me. I promise to bend over backwards, even if it means looking ridiculous in public, in order to make you laugh. I promise to love you forever and ever, even when that has to be tough love. I promise to put your needs before my own. I promise to love your daddy and do my very best to show you what Godly marriage looks like. I promise to do my very best to truly “seek first the Kingdom” (Mt. 6:33), making Christianity not just part of us, but all of us—everything we are—so that you will hopefully grow up wanting to do the same.

I love you, my sweet boy. See you soon.