Sick Snuggles

I’ve always heard moms talk about how much they “loved” when their kids didn’t feel good, because it meant they would get more snuggles and cuddle time from their normally rambunctious kids. I would often wonder why any mom would “like” that their kid was sick and think “I can snuggle with Audrey any time I want!”

Well, I said that before Audrey learned how to crawl and walk and basically get away from me any chance she could. I thought it before I held and snuggled my own baby for hours at a time, and then learned to ache for it when she didn’t want to anymore.

And I definitely said it before I had to hold my own baby in an Emergency Room with spiked fever and an antibiotic allergic reaction that sent her into a two-day hospital stay.

You never want your children sick, but they way Audrey relaxed on me when I finally made it to the Emergency Room after a $400 last minute flight home from California; the way she was in so much pain she only wanted to be touched by me or Jason; the way she looked for me the instant she woke up from every fitful nap — those moments reminded me how much I missed being able to actually hold her. Not just carry her from place to place, but actually HOLD her and comfort her and feel her body fit perfectly into my arms and my neck.

audrey hospital

Our Audrey is well again, back to her old self (with a few stubborn hives lingering), but she is no longer the cuddly, needy babe she was just 48 hours ago. But those dark moments in a cold hospital room when she let me hold her close for hours at a time, gave me more to be thankful for than I have in a long time. I didn’t like it at all, but I loved it.


The Biggest First

Yesterday came and went like every other normal day for most. But it was so much bigger than that at our little house on the corner. It was Audrey’s first birthday! My little one is now 1 and as much of a toddler as ever. I worried that the day would bring bittersweet, sappy memories, but instead it brought fun, laughter and a lot of sugar. The long days of this short year have added up to so many memories, things I had already forgotten, and remembered again while perusing old photos.

Like how could I forget how her belly button used to make a cinnamon roll swirl? Or how sleep deprived we were in the first few months of her life? Or how there was ever a time she wasn’t always on the go? When I’m in the moment and I see something special, I think “how could I ever forget how wonderful this moment right here is?” But I do forget, and sadly I will keep forgetting. As much as I try to remember how much I love how she holds her hand at your mouth to keep the food in while she’s chewing, how she shakes her head no at everything, even the things she wants, or how she loves to lay her head on my shoulder right after a nap, these small things will fade away.

But how you made me a Mama, how you thrill your Daddy and how much we love you will never be forgotten. And I’m so glad we got to celebrate your first year with our best family and friends. What a party! Rainbows and hot air balloons, cake and football, rain and laughter, it all created the best birthday party I could imagine. Happy birthday my sweet Audrey Faye!

smash cake candle opening presents decorations cake family birthday


The War Inside

I have always been very hard on myself. Always pushing to be perfect and the best.

This is evidenced by the “races” I used to have in 1st grade with another boy on tests and homework to see who could finish faster and get an A.

Also evidenced in the manic way I would amass stickers on my 4th grade behavior chart marking how “good” I was that day, usually feeling absolutely devastated if I did not fill my 5×5 grid of empty boxes, each box somehow symbolizing a square inch of self worth.

Seen also in the student council, class president, club president, sorority officer, alumnae officer positions I take on, run for or volunteer for to somehow stay involved, stay connected, stay on top of things to be in the know, to be with those who know and just to know.

Or shown in how I will speed clean my house the second I hear someone is coming over so they will see a spotless house, complete with a fresh scent of faked cleanliness, and think I keep it that way all the time. Yeah right. Right now, my kitchen has two empty pizza boxes, a can of Pringles and expired chocolate milk in the fridge, a pile of Audrey’s spit up caked on the floor and the couch smells like Sadie pooped INSIDE this couch, not on it, IN IT).

It’s always been there. I just know this about myself. And thank you Jesus that you brought Jason into my life who every day reminds me to JUST RELAX.

But never in my life did I foresee the levels this personality would push me to once having a baby. Every single decision, outfit choice, thought, action, etc. is amplified by my insatiable need to be perfect.

The latest “war” is breastfeeding and formula. I have breastfed Audrey until now (5 months) but have slowly been unable to make enough bottles to send with her the next day, depleting my freezer supply and teetering on the edge of needing to supplement for some time now.

Well, a week or so ago was the tipping point. I didn’t have enough to send the next day (unless I pumped during the night and again the next morning and used my last 3 oz from the freezer), and she hasn’t been sleeping, so I devised a plan to give her a bottle with half breast milk and half formula to introduce it, hope it helped her sleep and to throw this monkey off my back. The evil, demon monkey of mommy guilt telling me I’m ruining the “pureness” of this child by giving her something foreign. How dumb is that? My baby is still perfect after a bottle of formula, she took it like a champ, never knew the difference (still didn’t sleep), but is no worse for the wear and you would think I laced her bottle with arsenic because of the amount of thought I put into this decision.

If I agonize this much over every decision as a mother, Lord help me. What’s healthiest for Audrey right now is sleep. She needs more and I need to do what I can to get her there, which I believe is feeding more during the day. What is also healthiest for this family is sleep and a rejuvenated Mama. I’m learning this all a give and take. If I take from here, something has to give over there. And I’ll tell you, the day after this happened and I didn’t have to fret over getting up before the chickens to pump, I was OVER IT.

But why do we beat ourselves up so much? If it’s not formula, it will be pre-packaged baby food, and then preschool, and then giving them fast food, and then private vs. public school, and then, and then, and then.

What I want MOST in the world is that Audrey is healthy, happy and learns to love Jesus. That’s it. I want time with my husband. I want more babies. And I want my sanity. And I’ve got to learn to LET IT GO. My sage (aka sister) gave me the best verse for this:

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever thingsare of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

OR in crazy, sleep deprived Mama terms: GET OFF FACEBOOK AND THE INTERNET AND STOP READING WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING OR DOING AND JUST DO YOU. Do you. Do me. Do Stephanie. Be a Roussell (and an Ortego) and go with your gut. Do what I feel is right, focus on what is good in my life, what I feel is healthy for our family as a whole and move on. The decision I made a few nights ago will not define Audrey’s life, nor mine. It will be a blip on the radar of life, and every decision I will make with heart and faith, but remind myself that not every decision that winds me away from what “I thought should happen” is not failure, it’s life.

Can you tell I needed a pep talk? 🙂 And I’m always happy to talk to myself!

In other news, here is Audrey’s new look of trepidation during “rice cereal” time. I mean, she’s gotta be the cutest baby you ever did see, right??audrey rice cereal

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My new form of absolute torture is finding songs about children and listening them on repeat.

And this one, like I can’t even. Can’t. Do. It. Must. Stop.

So beautiful and so gut wrenching right now as I struggle each night to leave Audrey in her room, willing her to sleep, but secretly wishing she stays awake so I can be with her a few minutes longer.

Oh please Jesus, I pray that those “armies of angels” surround Audrey every moment that I’m not with her.

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First Week Back Crazies

So a week or so ago I wrote a loving, flowy post about my pregnancy and maternity leave and how wonderful the long, lazy days with Audrey were and how my new adventure as a working mother was about to begin, and everybody please send me warm and fuzzies about starting because I’m going to need it….

…well here I am on the other side, and LORD HELP ME.

tummy time

Audrey says “be cool, Mom, I got this”

This job is hard, ya’ll! My mornings start about 3 hours earlier than is normally human, only a few hours after Audrey decides she wants a 3 a.m. snack and Sadie jumps in my spot in the bed because it’s way warmer than the freezing cold house this Mama won’t heat at night because she’s too paranoid about carbon monoxide poisoning.

High heels and baby carriers do not mix. My poor feet haven’t worn heels in about 6 months and my calves hate me, along with my toes. My neck is permanently “cricked” from falling asleep in the rocker at 3 a.m. and my poor house is so dirty I’m afraid TLC will try to come film an episode of Hoarders.

smiling audrey

Audrey thinks my pain is funny

But, after ten WHOLE DAYS of being a working mom, it has also brought me good things. Like using my smart brain again, the joy of picking her up from the nursery every afternoon and my weekly sushi fix. I miss her during the day, but the days go fast and I’m right back with her before I know it. Plus I get to wear cute clothes again.

baby selfie

Baby’s first selfie at the doctor’s office

So here’s to all you working moms out there! I’ve had good role models, both my grandmothers and my own mother and mother-in-law have provided a pretty good model for how to be a Southern lady, while working and raising babies. I hope I can only continue the tradition!

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Begin Again

Well hello there world – you’re still here? There have been moments in the past two baby-focused months that I sometimes thought the only world left was me and Jason, the baby and our little house on the corner. But, in the last few weeks, we have re-emerged from our corner, blinking into the big, bright, beautiful Fall sun and slowly coming back to you.

audrey in pumpkin outfit

Jason and I welcomed our beautiful baby girl, Audrey Faye, on August 30 and all that we knew has changed. She is now two months old (tomorrow!) and life is getting back into a “new” normal. So, I’m back to blogging! Here and at my other blog home, Woman’s Hospital.

No mother can properly convey her feelings about becoming a mom, having a baby and all that comes with it. But I’m hoping to share with you here what I can put into words about Audrey, life as a new mom, life as a working mom and life in general.

Here’s my first blog back at Woman’s Hospital where you get a small glimpse into our world lately. It’s good to be back.