so i never forget

I’m sitting at home with my feet propped up nursing my newborn baby boy. He’s beautiful; so precious I can’t seem to stop kissing every part of his little face. His thin lips, wide nose, fluffy cheeks, they all fill my heart with an overwhelming amount of love. When I look into his big dark eyes, I can’t help but close my own and reminisce his grand entrance into this world….

The panic, the pain, the promise I forced my husband to make to never do this to me again. 

It’s hilarious how we can be entrenched in a situation so intensely painful we can’t imagine a way out. But a minute later we see the joy that results and we can’t seem to remember the pain at all. I’m pretty sure that’s why us women have multiple children. There’s a wonderful lesson to be learned here, but I’d rather not talk about that just yet.

I wrote a poem documenting the emotions of my second child’s birth. In a year from now, when I’m missing tiny baby clothes and adorable, unnecessary infant shoes I will stand strong against the temptation to breed. My memory of labor will be on the internet forever so I will never forget. 

“It’s been just one week since the day you came
You’re cute and cuddly now, but birthing you brought so much pain
I’d been preparing for some time, had contractions for two weeks
But boy when you chose to come out you brought me to my knees

 

Literally, on all fours on the floor, I couldn’t believe the ache
There was no relief, no stopping now, not even a 30 second water break
Speaking of which, I drenched my dress, the stairs and the passenger seat
Your dad drove as fast as he could while I cursed every bump on the street

 

And when we checked in, it all got worse, the hurt intensified
I moaned in absolute agony, every inch of me wanted to cry
Little aid came from a hand I grabbed, whether your dad’s or some guy nearby
The only hope that I chose to see was in the drugs they would shoot up my spine

 

So I sat real still, felt a stab in my back and begged for the highest dose
And just like that, almost instantly, I was laying there cracking jokes
After two hours of torture I was able to look up and notice my family
They ate snacks while I doped up, I swear I was a whole new me. 

 

Before I could think, the doctor came in and said it was time to push
The room full of laughs but this moment was real so I told them all to shush
Just a few deep breaths and I pulled you out, my goodness you had so much hair
Tears in my eyes, my heart welcomed yours, please know “Mommy will always be there”

 

To have another child, I’d done this before. I’m not sure what I was thinking
I had asked your dad to give me another, can’t imagine what I’d been drinking
The pain was bad, that’s true for sure, I won’t promise to do it again
But you, my son, fill our lives with a joy that our hearts can’t even contain”

Our little guy was a solid 8 lbs. 2 oz. and the laboring process I described, from the first painful contraction to delivery, was just four hours long. The pain was the worst I had ever felt in my life. It was unimaginable. If I wasn’t aware that quadrillions of women throughout history had endured this same process, I would’ve assumed I was going to die. That’s what it felt like.  (Side note: giving birth to my first child was not like this at all. Labor was longer but I hardly felt any pain.)

But here’s the thing…the second he was birthed, I forgot ALL the pain. Actually, for me, the forgetting happened once the drugs kicked in, but you know what I mean. I look at this beautiful life God created through me and my husband and my heart is full of every good thing. He’s certainly worth the laboring process it took to birth him. 

So here’s the rainbow: God promises to complete the work He started in us. Press through the pain, holding on to this promise. And I look forward to hearing your birth story 😉

 

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

i spilled the tea

I want to share this story with you guys. I’m using that term loosely because, well, I reallyNINE TO FIVE-6
don’t want to share this story. It’s embarrassing and sad and it just happened so I’m not over it yet. 

I had just finished cleaning Aliyah’s highchair and a 3-foot radius of the floor surrounding it after breakfast. She wanted to watch “horsies”, a Netflix series from the animated movie Spirit. I had to get work done, so I was certainly not going to oppose. 

I picked her up under her arms and placed her right beside me on the couch. She grabbed her “blanky”, stuck her fingers in her mouth and did a little shimmy to settle herself in for the show. I grabbed a lukewarm cup of tea from the microwave, plopped the laptop on my TV tray workspace and did my own little shimmy in complete gratitude of the 26 minutes of productivity ahead of me. 

I started weeding out emails, in no hurry since the theme song for the show was still going strong, Aliyah’s voice matching the ending note of each line. I reached my arm across her to grab my tea just as the song ended, and Aliyah leapt with excitement. “Na na!” (Moana).

Apparently that was all she needed from the horses after my butt hit the remote, changing the screen to a trailer showcasing her favorite island princess. But this post isn’t about Moana or my butt or the twin shimmies we did earlier. It’s about something bigger…

I SPILLED THE TEA!!!Please join in me in a moment of silence for the complete loss of the MacBook Air that has seen me through the last 5 years.

I’m sure one day I’ll laugh at this, but today is not the day. I honestly don’t think tomorrow will be either. 

Now, let’s be real, I could care less about the computer. It was expensive, yes, but I’ve had it for a while. I’m just so hesitant to even tell you guys about the work I lost. 

LESSON PAINFULLY LEARNED : BACK IT UP

I was planning to launch a new series of blog posts which I had really enjoyed writing. Losing those among other personal branding type files sucked, but losing my books continues to hurt my heart. 

I have dreamed of becoming an author for most of my life. In the last few months, I started writing consistently…passionately. I had been alternating between two novels depending on my mood, and although I was nowhere near completing either, I was fully invested. Those first few chapters disclosed my heart. I can’t even think about starting over. 

But I’m young. These things happen, right? I’ll take better care of my things next time?? I’m really not sure what piece of positivity to take away from this experience to be honest. 

I can’t be sad about things very long, that’s not my thing. So I just said, “F it!”

To clarify ( because there’s a good chance my mother will read this ), the “F” in the previous sentence stands for forget… “Forget it!”

I’m forgetting what’s lost and focusing on what’s left to be found.

You know, my mom is the one who told me that God is still God when I whined to her about this whole ordeal. 

This blog is called Catching Rainbows. I started it to document the moments in my life that remind me of the promises of God. It’s been well over a year since my last post, and it’s a little difficult to see a rainbow in this one, so I’m going to use my mom’s. 

I didn’t want to hear it, but it’s always a helpful reminder. My God is God no matter what. There’s certainly goodness in that. 

Mommy’s Coming Out!

“Your body went through nine months of radical changes, so give it another nine months to return to normal,” they say.

Those words were much easier for them to say than for me to accept. There was a time when I was an optimistic pregnant balloon. I had the impression that once my baby came out, I’d be back to normal because that’s what they told me.

“Girl, you’re so skinny, you’ll bounce right back after popping that baby out.”

Reality hit when I went in for my 6-week postpartum checkup looking worse than I did when I left the hospital.

Truth: my body is not latex and it did not snap back.

It’s funny now, but postpartum insecurities are no joke. Hormones run wild and emotions follow suit – I haven’t studied it, but I have lived it. I was a new mother spending every day with the most wonderful baby I had ever known. But I tried to cover up vulnerabilities intended to showcase the raw beauty of motherhood.

I found myself insulting my own appearance in an effort to keep my roots underground. It wasn’t even about my body or the fact that none of my clothes fit. I wanted to know that I was doing this thing right, that I could provide this baby with every thing she needed at the time she needed it.

I remember being so nervous to change my baby’s diaper in the mother’s room at church because I would be the one to do that wrong too. Aliyah was my first and we had to learn it all together, teach each other.

I could go on and on about all the inward struggles that have been my life the last nine months, but I don’t think I need to. People close to me would be surprised to hear how ‘untogether’ I still am, but I thank God for that.

He’s the reason I’m able to conquer all my fears. I gave my insecurities to Him and He exchanged them for confidence, joy, peace and so much love. He gave me a stud of a husband to encourage me and an incomparable support system of friends and family to keep me going.

My daughter is nine months today and I can boldly say I’m proud of myself. I feel and look amazing and I’m not ashamed to say it. My body will never be the same, but I like to think it’s better…I’m better.

If you’re going through anything similar, trust the process. Cherish the season that you are in and don’t be afraid to share the unseasoned parts 😉 They’re beautiful and they make us who we are. Cheesy as it may sound, it took nine months for Aliyah to develop before she could see the world and I think it may have taken nine months for this mother to do the same. I’m coming out! (Call me Mama Dre<3)

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Aliyah’s first Day at Work

Aliyah is six months old today!

Today I had to take her to work with me for a few hours and of course I got to thinking…

I love to work. (I have my mother to thank for that quality). I relish any fast-paced workroom and I thrive in the overtime.

Before Aliyah came I worked for a local news station in Oklahoma. The newsroom atmosphere only exacerbated my itch to clock-in.

I worked hard and tried my best to be home for my husband before 11:30 each night.

But then July 12th happened. Jelani and I decided it would be best if I quit my job and stayed home to take care of Aliyah.

MY GOODNESS! My world was rocked. I went from being home for 8 hours (for sleep) to being home 24 hours a day, seven days a week (pretty much). The first few weeks were rough. Very rough.

Most days, it was just me and my girl. Speeding passed the snarling shitzu down the road during our morning walks became the most thrilling part of the day and Sunday church the most thrilling day of the week. (I’m so patient now!)

But let me tell you the good news, it got easier. It actually became a dream come true.

I’ve never had to ask someone else about my child’s day. I have the privilege of experiencing every cry, every babble and every smile. How could I desire anything more?

Of course there are days when I miss feeling my heart race while assigning a breaking story, but there’s something to be said about a heart that knows how to sit still.

I needed such a dramatic shift to truly appreciate this season of my life. I’ve grown immensely in the past six months and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given: to nurture a beautiful girl and provide a warm home for my husband.

After six months, I’m fortunate enough to work part time (at a new job) with the freedom to bring my girl with me. I’m able to help out financially and I’m home by 1 p.m. to serve my family. Long story super duper short: life with these two is pretty freaking sweet!

***

“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” ~ James 1:4

Friendly Neighborhood Walmart Lady

It’s been almost two months since my angel came into this world. Life with her has been different, to say the least. It’s beautiful, but if I’m honest with you, there are days when simply getting through is the goal and beauty is far from a possibility. Believe it or not, there are days when I actually feel worthless. This was one of those days.

I was tired. Aliyah had been up all night— not crying, just up — and she refused to be up alone. (A friend of mine came to visit the week before and it demolished my baby girl’s schedule, so we’re basically starting over now.)

It was the morning after, Labor Day, and the weather was decent, so we decided to grill out. I had to stop by the store, so I ran to the bathroom to throw on some deodorant and grab a hair tie (after all, I was going out in public).

As I rushed toward the door, someone stopped me. I knew this person well, but I didn’t recognize her. Her hair was a mess, her face was pale, and her body offered no rebuttal. Everything about this woman screamed motherhood, and it wasn’t exactly pretty.

Shaking off emotion, I grabbed Aliyah and a few of her things, slipped on some flip flops to complement my gym shorts and headed for the store.

While at the Neighborhood Walmart (which was apparently the place to be on everyone’s day off), I got the usual “she’s so cute” and “wow, all that hair” just about a million times.

I had her strapped to my chest in the gray carrier my brother bought. It made it easier to shop, but the trip was taking longer than expected. Aliyah was getting restless.

She started crying and wouldn’t stop. I found myself more embarrassed than concerned. I bounced for a few minutes, attempting to soothe her.

In a moment of temporary relief, an older woman with long, curly locks walked toward me. She had a similar reaction as all the others when she noticed the tiny feet dangling in front of my torso.

“Oh my goodness. She’s so tiny. She’s gorgeous.”

“Thank you,” I replied, following the queue to look down at my beautiful girl.

“Thank you,” she emphasized as if I had done her a favor. I could feel her eyes trying to catch mine. Not knowing her intentions, I refused the intimacy and placed my hand on Aliyah’s back protectively.

“Thank you for having a baby,” she clarified gently.

My eyes shot up, trying to reconcile, but she had already turned away.

My heart swelled, regretful of the encounter. I wish I had been more welcoming, more happy, cracked a genuine smile at the least. I wanted to sit down with her and explain how blessed I was to have my girl, how she was the best thing to happen to me, how there was no way I would’ve ever not had her.

I kissed my baby. She was the only one that needed to know. She could cry through every shopping trip or make me late for every meeting. I’d take no makeup days and dirty hair for months if it meant I’d have her.

She is my joy, my love, my laughter, my pride and my blessing.

Days like these remind us of our selfish nature. We want more for ourselves than we want for others. Days like these remind us that love is a choice, it requires effort. It requires us to chose someone else before ourselves. Days like these remind us of a promise – love will never fail.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”  1 CORINTHIANS 13:13

Thanks for the rainbow friendly Neighborhood Walmart lady.

Aliyah Nichole

“Ready..one, two, three, four…”

Jelani’s counting tensed as the big moment drew near. Those 11 hours in the hospital were nothing compared to the 38 weeks of waiting. We thought, we dreamed, we imagined what our precious girl would look like, talk like, act like. And the anticipation multiplied with each deep, strained breath.

I could feel the pressure increase with every push. The once giddy delivery room had quickly been converted to an intimidating childbearing factory.

My husband held my hand and I squeezed tight. This was it, and we both knew it. Sweat dripped from my brow, I gritted my teeth and bore down. A forceful groan expressed my strength but dimmed at the sound of her emerging cry.

She was here.

There were tools and gloves and drugs and towels. There were nurses whirling in and out. They were typing and sewing, disinfecting and talking. But all I saw were her eyes looking right back at me. All I heard was her deep pant indulging in each new breath. All I felt was her vernix-coated skin drawing warmth from my own. Her head on my chest, basking in the familiar rhythm. She owned every beat of my heart.

Aliyah Nichole. It means “exalted, victorious” and I think she knew. Because from that day forward she would be first, and every day after that she would win my love without even trying.

Thanks for the rainbow baby girl.