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Families

some things i’ve learned…

By | Families

Today is the four-month mark since Ensley has been here. It’s been an amazing journey so far, and every day is better than the last. Even though I often wonder where on earth my little newborn has gone, it’s so much fun to see our little girl learn new things each and every day. I was actually thinking this past week how much I’VE learned in the last four months too. I’m certainly not the same person that I was before becoming a new mommy, and I know that this experience has changed me for the better. On May 23rd it had been exactly one year since finding out that we were pregnant and that our world would change forever. Looking back, I thought about how much I had yet to learn as a soon-to-be, first-time parent. Even though life seemed “different” to me the moment I found out that I was going to have a baby, I just can’t hardly imagine now how we ever lived without her. Here are just a few of the things that I’ve learned since our beautiful little girl stole our hearts…

It sounds cliche, but time goes too fast.

I know that I’ve blogged about this topic before. I remember back to days where I was working my full-time marketing job in the middle of the busiest fall photography time, and I’d be up until 2AM sometimes working on editing, only to wake up at 5:30 AM to start all over again. Of course I thought to myself then that there just wasn’t enough time in the day and that the hours just flew by too fast. Well that was nothing compared to how quickly the time goes by for me now. Most adults, and especially my dad, had always talked about how they couldn’t believe that the day was over with, that the week had just flown by, or how the years passed so quickly. Well, now I get it. I’m not sure what it is about having a kid, but I swear that it pushes the fast-forward button on life. It’s Monday and then the next time that I sit down and think about things, it’s Friday! Of course there have been times where I’d welcome the speedy days, weeks, and even months – but not now! I’m savoring every moment that I have with my new baby and I just wish it would all slow down.

Ensley

Becoming a parent changes EVERYTHING.

You’re probably thinking that of course this statement is true… but as a new parent, I can’t believe just how much having a little girl has changed the way that I look at the world. It started when I was just newly pregnant at the beginning of last summer. I would fret over just about anything – breathing the air in a nail salon, standing near people who were smoking, being too close to loud noises. I didn’t want anything to affect my baby, and the thoughts were always in the back of my mind. Now that she’s here it’s even worse. I think about all of the crazy things happening in our world, and I just want to keep her safe from all of it. I’ve seriously considered if I would someday ever be able to let her stay overnight at a friend’s house, get her ears pierced, or study abroad in college. Right now I say no way to all of it! I know, I know… I’ll have to let her have her own experiences, but my point is just that the world is such a scary place sometimes and I’m just not sure if I’ll be ready to ever let her out of my sight ūüôā

Our house is too small. And it will never stay clean like it used to be.

When it was just Mitch and I, we loved our house. It was perfect for the two of us and our dog, Mya. It wasn’t too big where it took forever to clean, but it wasn’t too small where we felt cooped up inside. Well we soon learned that someone as tiny as our little baby could take up the most room! From the playpen to the bouncer seat to the changing table – our little house filled up fast. Our small place doesn’t make it easy when it comes to bed time either. A little back story on this is that Ensley is such a light sleeper! From the moment that she was here, the quietest sounds can startle her from what you think is a deep sleep to being awake. Many people told me about how they used to do everything from vacuuming to turning the TV up as loud as they could to get their baby used to sleeping through sounds. Not our little Ensley. So, once she’s “down for the night” we have a rule in our house that we don’t even flush the toilets anymore! Those precious hours of sleep used to be pretty hard to come by, and we’ll do anything we can to let her keep those beautiful eyes closed! Even though the house seems small, and it’s a far cry from that magazine-looking home that I used to think I wanted… it’s okay with us. This is the house where we brought our little girl home to, and I’m starting to like that “lived-in” look anyway.

Taking a shower is like going to the spa.

This might be a unanimous consensus between new moms, but there is just nothing more relaxing than taking a hot shower. It’s the closest thing to going to the spa. Especially after a night of waking up every few hours for feedings, and after you’re just too tired to get up and change your shirt after being spit-up on a time or two… nothing compares to a hot shower.

Every age is my favorite age.

Before Ensley was born, I often thought about what baby age was my favorite. At first, I was so excited to have a squishy, sleepy little newborn to hold because I was sure that this would be my favorite age. Then, I was so excited to have an alert and just-starting-to-smile one month old, and that became my new favorite age. Then, I had this sweet and cuddly little two and three month old and I changed my mind again. And now I have a giggling, toe-grabbing four month old, and right now I’m sure this is my favorite! I certainly can’t make up my mind on what baby age is my favorite, but I do know one thing for sure… I love it all. Every stage and every age becomes my new favorite.

There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing my little girl smile.

I know that seeing a baby smile is heartwarming, no matter who the baby is. But I just can’t even begin to describe how genuinely happy it makes me to see Ensley happy. Every little smile just completely melts my heart. I’m sure that all parents can agree with me that there’s just something about your own baby showing you that gummy little grin that makes everything in the world seem right.

I still like to hold her when she’s napping (even if it’s for hours)… and that’s okay.

When Ensley was brand new, I hardly slept at all because I wanted to hold her and just stare in wonder at how beautiful she is. Putting her down to sleep has always been hard for me, just simply because I’d rather be holding her. As she’s started getting older and life has returned more towards normal, I’ve tried laying her in her bouncer seat or on the couch to nap because I thought that I needed to get to the point where I could function as a mom and still get things done. Well, I’ve decided that sometimes this is true, but most of the time it’s more fun to enjoy this little baby that we are so lucky to have, and I’m completely okay with that. I know that I still need to answer my emails and pay the bills, but these things just aren’t quite as important as cuddle time. I’ve come to realize that being a good mom doesn’t mean that you have to keep up with your life in exactly the same way that you would’ve before. Nothing about your life is like it was before, and being a good mom can be enjoying the new most important thing in your whole world. Even if that means getting absolutely nothing done and hanging out in the recliner all afternoon for a marathon napping session.

There is no right answer. Do whatever works.

Something that I had to learn as a new mommy is that there is no “normal” when it comes to having a baby. Every baby is so different, and every parenting experience is so different too. I remember that in those first weeks I used to wonder how on earth I would ever go back to being able to pick up the house again or take a shower, let alone do some work while I was at home. Part of my worry was that I never wanted to stop holding her, and the other part was that she didn’t want me to stop holding her either! I knew that things would get easier as our lives started to fall into a routine. A great example of this “whatever works” strategy is our morning naps. Although in the first month I probably never showered before 3PM, I started to realize that I wanted to “get ready” for the day. After a couple different tries, we found out that Ensley would nap in the bathroom, in her bouncer seat, with the fan, shower, and hair dryer going… all while I took a shower! It was like magic! She actually is still taking this morning snooze in the bathroom almost every day. The best part is that with all of the noises that put her to sleep, I can even wash the dishes without waking her up!

This is why everything turned out the way it did.

Throughout my life I’ve often looked back on the way that things have turned out and wondered how differently everything could be if I had just made one different decision. In most cases I look back and think about how lucky I am that it all went the way it did. ¬†What if I hadn’t said yes to “going out” with Mitch that spring day of our freshman year? What if I had taken a job in a different state? What if we would’ve waited another five years to have a baby? I almost don’t even like thinking about how everything could’ve turned out because that would mean that it wouldn’t be exactly how it is right now. From the very moment that we saw Ensley for the first time, I knew that this was right. For all of the times that I had questioned my decisions, our new baby reassured me ten times over that life happened the way it was supposed to.

I’d do it all again, in a heartbeat.

To be fair, there were probably lots of days last summer when I questioned what on earth I was thinking when we decided to have a baby. The sickest I’d ever been in my entire life, for about four months I couldn’t decide if I wanted to camp out in the bathroom forever or just pull the covers up in my bed and sleep for about 10 years because I was so exhausted. It was rough! I specifically remember one day in particular when I called my mom, bawling, because I wasn’t sure if it was okay that I was THIS sick! She kept telling me that it would all be worth it in the end. I remember her saying that there were moms out there who were this sick for the whole nine months and then they would turn around and get pregnant again! I couldn’t believe it… but now I understand. The moment that you get to see your sweet little baby, everything else becomes a distant memory. It’s true what everyone says – it’s all SO worth it in the end. Even though right now I can’t hardly imagine sharing my heart with another baby, someday I know that we would feel so blessed if we had the opportunity to be parents again. Everything about this is everything that I ever wanted, and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat, especially now that I know how the story ends.

we start and end with family

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For most of us Easter weekend is a reason for everyone to gather and celebrate. ¬†Well this holiday weekend was extra special for the Gerharz family because they were all “together” again. ¬†With their oldest son Ryan, in the marines, their time spent all together as a family is limited. ¬†They take advantage of every chance that they get to just be with each other – and I was honored to spend some of that time with them. ¬†I had so much fun capturing the happiness and love that this family shares. ¬†Enjoy!