preemie power

“She May Be Small, Pray Big Prayers Anyway”

Before our daughter Finnley was born, a sweet couple from our church encouraged us to buy a Bible and pray scriptures over “Poppy” (this was our semi-gender-neutral nickname since we were waiting until birth to know the gender).

We took their advice and purchased a Notebook Bible the following week. We claimed a few verses her life, marking the date, journalling our prayers in the margins, and noting what they meant to us as our pregnancy progressed… I can’t begin to tell you how much they mean so much to us now.

Throughout the course of our pregnancy with our little “Fair Warrior”, we grew more and more thankful for our Abba’s Word and His promises.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 8.39.00 AM

It was the summer of 2014, we had family staying with us from Costa Rica. I was only a few weeks along when several signs of a miscarriage hit me in the middle of Bahamma Bucks like a pile of bricks. Our friends had lost their baby a few weeks prior, and I braced myself for the worst. I struggled to conceal my sobs in the bathroom stall, “Oh God. Please no. Please. Help us to trust You no matter the outcome.” Something was wrong — really, really wrong. Johnny rushed me to the Emergency Room, and our nightmare began to unravel.

“I’m sorry, we just can’t seem to detect a heartbeat.” I’ll never forget those words as the doctor awkwardly blurted them out faster than we could process them. Another doctor came in to the room and explained that “the baby may just be really small”, and “sometimes these things can happen, but it could be a false alarm.” I sat there cold, in a robe. Dumbfounded. They ordered me to be on bedrest, explained “you will know one way or another– soon”, and sent us home.

We prayed. And waited. And clung to His word. And prayed. And cried. And continued to claim scriptures over our little “Poppy’s” unborn life. We waited…

Nine days later, we held hands — and our breaths, as the sonographer turned up the volume. A heartbeat! I’d never been so happy to hear what sounded like a “little train” in my whole life. (This sweet moment was one of the handful of times I’ve ever seen my husband cry.)

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 8.42.12 AM

The Lord was using these trials to remind me: “my” children, are really His children. And I can entrust “my” children to Him, knowing full-well– without a shadow of a doubt, that He loves them more than I ever could. 

I struggled throughout our pregnancy. Often sobbing on the bathroom floor, wrestling with doubt, insecurity, and fighting the lies as my mind often seemed riddled with fear.

I can’t tell you how many times we haven’t known what to pray, so we’ve just prayed the Word. His Word is alive and active. It brings change, centers our hearts on Christ, destroys the lies of fear and false security, and fills our hearts with hope.

“There’s no way everyone feels like this, something is wrong.” I would often tell Johnny. At 28 weeks, I knew something was wrong. I called my doctor but everything seemed to check out.

Three days later, I showed up to my check-up appointment (the first appointment without Johnny because it was his 2nd day in the office at a new job) and once again, my greatest fears were realized.

Upon entering the exam room, the nurse looked at me and proceeded to say, “Rachel, you don’t look good.” …I wanted to yell, “Oh awesome, thank you!” Because after all, this was, in fact, exactly what every pregnant woman wants to hear, right?! She continued, “I’ve never seen a blood pressure this high. Rachel, you’re a walking coma, sit down, we need to get you to the emergency room.”

Wait… what! Breathe. Just breathe. I heard my doctor fast-walking down the hall.

My doctor hadn’t even entered the room before she asked, “Where’s Johnny? He never misses an appointment.”

I collapsed into a semi-slumped-over ball of sobs. “It’s his second day at a new job! Am I not going to be able to go back to work? I need to call my boss.”

I verbally processed all of my responsibilities aloud until my doctor finally cut me off, “Rachel, hear me honey, you’re not going back to work, you’re body is shutting down due to severe preeclampsia, you could die, we have to get this baby out.”

WAIT WHAT. I wrestled to process and did my best to argue in the midst of a hormonal, full-on, old-fashioned pregnant lady ugly-cry. “No. No. NO. This was my 28-week check-up. I don’t even have newborn clothes yet! My baby shower hasn’t even happened. We don’t have a name! HOLD THE BUS.”

Thankfully, the office manager happened to be a friend of our family. As soon as she heard the news she ran to my room, bear-hugged me, and prayed the words I was too shell-shocked to utter.

Before I knew it, I was rushed to the ER. With 2% battery left on my phone. Devastated beyond comprehension. Without my husband. While my mother out of the country on a mission trip. And with absolutely zero sign  (or thought) of a “perfectly packed hospital bag.”

And just like that, OCD/control-freak Rachel was completely, utterly, entirely out of control — of everything. But this is exactly where God set me free. This is where I learned to truly rely on His Word. The three days that followed were a blur, as medical teams fought to keep me stable.

They explained to Johnny that they had done everything they could do to bring my blood pressure down, but my body wasn’t responding. To top things off, my doctor discovered the culprit for why our baby was measuring so small: IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction). The umbilical cord had been delivering a mere fraction of the nutrients required for her growth– for God only knows how long. The baby had to come out.

They sent in a NICU nurse who began to warn us of what “to expect.” They proceeded to explain, “Your child could be very small. And if he/she survives, she will mostly likely struggle greatly, because she has  abnormally developed, and will probably never grow to be the normal size of a child/teen/adult.”

Discriminating Mommies

At 29-weeks, on October 22, 2014, an emergency c-section was scheduled and our perfect little miracle, Finnley Haven, was born at 2.4 pounds, 14inches long. Suddenly, we knew exactly why the names “Finnley Haven” (“Fair Warrior” /  “Safe Place”) had been on our hearts.

I was so medicated, I don’t personally recall anything that happened those first three days. But I’m grateful for them. And although I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I’m grateful for the following two months that our daughter spent in the NICU, as well.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 9.27.30 AM

It was in those days, that Abba taught me how to rely on His word. He taught me that I am not self-sufficient, nor am I in control. He taught me to surrender our daughter early on. And I would walk through it all over again if need be. Because in the end, it really was; for my good and for His glory. Throughout it all, Abba carried us. His Word sustained us. 

Johnny & Rachel & Finnley

Today, Finnley Haven is in perfect health– and she’s the spunkiest little thing you’ll ever meet! She is almost average weight and has undergone NONE of the estimated 9 surgeries that she would “need.” At almost every doctor appointment, the nurses double-check that they have the right patient, because they “thought they had the wrong chart.” Her life is living proof of God’s sovereignty and incredible, miraculous ways.

Finnley

But as I was praying for our daughter this morning, I was convicted. For almost three years, I’ve prayed for Finnley. I’ve prayed for Finnley’s Salvation, for Finnley’s safety, for Finnley’s character, for Finnley’s faith, for Finnley’s life.

Even still, I sensed the Holy Spirit challenging me, “She May Be Small, Pray Big Prayers Anyway.” 

I continued to pray and it all finally clicked: I’ve been praying for my daughter.

I’ve prayed for my daughter. But will I stand in the gap and pray for all those that she will encounter– the people in her life who I could never reach? For her teachers, for her friends, for her coaches, for her friends’ parents, and for her classmates. For all those who may hear her story, and wonder “why” or “how”.

Because you see, it’s not just about my daughter’s life, or her story, or our story. In fact, it’s not about us at all. It’s about God’s story at work in our lives. It’s about His plan and His purposes. Our lives were created to live, reflect, and share His powerful, miraculous love. 

Praying for our children’s Salvation is just one part of our Savior’s master plan. As parents, our greatest responsibility is to raise disciples of Christ who love Him, know His Word, follow His teachings, recognize that they are fearfully and wonderfully made in our Abba’s image, and share this amazing news of the Gospel with others. 

Do we really believe that our children are just as much a part of Christ’s rescue mission as we are? If we believe it, we’ll pray it. It’s a bold prayer, it’s a big prayer. So, although they may be small, pray big prayers anyway. 

May we learn to be dependent on His Word, as we grow and abide in Christ throughout each season of motherhood. I challenge you to pick up a Bible and pray it over your child (and yourself!)

I hope this has encouraged your mamacita hearts as much as it’s encouraged mine,

– RACHEL.

30 Biblical Virtues to Pray over Your Child:

By Bob Hostetler

1. Salvation—”Lord, let salvation spring up within my children, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (Isa. 45:8; 2 Tim. 2:10)

2. Growth in Grace—”I pray that my children may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 3:18)

3. Love—”Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to live a life of love, through the Spirit who dwells in them. (Gal. 5:25; Eph. 5:2)

4. Honesty and Integrity—”May integrity and honesty be their virtue and their protection.” (Ps. 25:21)

5. Self-Control—”Father, help my children not to be like many others around them, but let them be alert and self-controlled in all they do.”
(1 Thess. 5:6)>

6. Love for God’s Word—”May my children grow to find Your Word more precious than much pure gold and sweeter than honey from the comb.” (Ps. 19:10)

7. Justice—”God, help my children to love justice as You do and act justly in all they do.” (Ps. 11:7; Mic. 6:8)

8. Mercy—”May my children always be merciful, just as their Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

9. Respect (for self, others, and authority)—”Father, grant that my children may show proper respect to everyone, as Your Word commands.(1 Pet. 2:17)

10. Biblical Self-Esteem—”Help my children develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:10)

11. Faithfulness—”Let love and faithfulness never leave my children, but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts.” (Prov. 3:3)

12. Courage—”May my children always be strong and courageous in their character. (Deut. 31:6)

13. Purity—”Create in them a pure heart, O God, and let that purity of heart be shown in their actions.” (Ps. 51:10)

14. Kindness—”Lord, may my children always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (1 Thess. 5:15)

15. Generosity—”Grant that my children may be generous and willing to share, and so lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age.” (1 Tim. 6:18-19)

16. Peace-Loving—”Father, let my children make every effort to do what leads to peace.” (Rom. 14:19)

17. Joy—”May my children be filled with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thes. 1:6)

18. Perseverance—”Lord, teach my children perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to run with perseverance the race marked out for them.” (Heb. 12:1)

19. Humility—”God, please cultivate in my children the ability to show true humility toward all.” (Titus 3:2)

20. Compassion—”Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassion.” (Col. 3:12)

21. Responsibility—”Grant that my children may learn responsibility, for each one should carry his own load.” (Gal. 6:5)

22. Contentment—”Father, teach my children the secret of being content in any and every situation, through Him who gives them strength.” (Phil. 4:12-13)

23. Faith—”I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them.” (Luke 17:5-6; Heb. 11:1-40)

24. A Servant’s Heart—”God, please help my children develop servant’s hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, as if they were serving the Lord, not men.” (Eph. 6:7)

25. Hope—”May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13)

26. Willingness and Ability to Work—”Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work at it with all their heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.” (Col. 3:23)

27. Passion for God—”Lord, please instill in my children a soul that ‘followeth hard after thee,’ one that clings passionately to You.” (Ps. 63:8)

28.Self-Discipline—”Father, I pray that my children may acquire a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair.” (Prov. 1:3)

29. Prayerfulness—”Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers.” (1 Thess. 5:17)

30. Gratitude—”Help my children to live lives that are always overflowing with thankfulness and always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20;Col. 2:7

 

Mamacita Must Haves: Preemie + Purchase Guide

With Mother’s Day quickly approaching I thought I’d give you the best gift I can share– timesaving items. Because at the end of the day, we all hate wasting time and money. So here are some of our baby items that have proved to be worth every penny. I’ve also included some of my favourite just-for-fun items. (For NICU must haves, check out my blog post here.)

October 22 proved to be one of the happiest days of our lives. But having a little NICU graduate greatly influenced the way we shopped for our daughter, Finnley Haven. Because she was born at 29 weeks, everything from our carseat standards, to diaper and bottle regimens were greatly affected. It was tough at first, but after several failed attempts, we found the best items.

So whether you’re a new mommy or have a friend who’s pregnant, I hope my little list helps narrow down your search!

Keep growing and loving on those beautiful babies!! Happy shopping mamacitas!

xoxo,

    – RACHEL

1. Milk Snob Paparazzi Carseat Cover ($34) The Milk Snob™ Paparazzi Carseat Cover was designed with your baby in mind. It is the first Car Seat Cover on the Market that fits perfectly within seconds on almost any infant car seat. It’s 96% Rayon, 4% Spandex material is everything you need to protect your child against harsh sunlight, wind, and pesky strangers who want to touch your new baby.

2. Cozi Planner App ($0!) This app is truly a life saver! We needed something to track all of our family’s events. We added different labels for myself, Johnny, Finnley, and even different reminders for family birthdays/anniversaries, dog appointments, and bills. You can edit it on your desktop, or mobile device– and it will send you alerts! This is a mommy must have!

3. Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier / Thieves Household Cleaner ($6) / ($29) As a neat freak myself and mother of a fragile preemie, I’m basically obsessed with germ killing– but I always hated how rough it made my hands. Then I discovered THIS. This all natural hand sanitizer smells AMAZING, and actually leaves your hands feeling silky smooth! It’s a mother’s dream come true! / While The Thieves Household Cleaner has EVERYTHING you need to clean and disinfect your entire home. Safe enough to use around preemies. This will replace your bathroom cleaner, fabric freshener, glass cleaner, and lysol. Trust me, you want this! Don’t believe me? Try it!

4. 4Moms Mama Roo ($270) When our little preemie came home from the NICU at 37 weeks, it was apparent to us that she loved being held and rocked. While we couldn’t hold her every second of the day– the Mama Roo held her when we couldn’t. With several different rocking settings, it proved to be the BEST investment. We joke that it’s our little girl’s nanny. Seriously, it’s worth every penny. And if you purchase it for your newborn, be sure to get the newborn insert ($60) so that your newborn will be safely tucked in.

5. Fawn Baby Bag ($130) Hands down the BEST baby/diaper bag I own. One big pocket filled with tons of smallers ones. This is where style and class meets space and functionality. It transforms from a messenger bag to backpack (perfect for dads). It’s high quality, waterproof interior and exterior will blow you away. So what are you waiting for? Its PERFECT for everyday wear. So, buy it already!

6. Comfort & Harmony Sleepsack ($16) Compared to the woombie, this zippered sleepsack is PERFECT for newborns. Our little wiggleworm would wake herself up from throwing her little arms around. This sleepsack eliminates the insecurity babies feel when they have too much room. The sleepsack imitates the snug fit inside the womb. As our doctors and nurses always told us while in the NICU “babies love and need boundaries.” Everytime our little two-pounder had anxiety in the NICU, they would tuck her in snug as a bug in a rug– and she loved it! This will help your little one sleep. And for when they get a little older, you can use C&H’s sleepsack with legs ($13) to help developing little leg muscles. (Be sure to follow appropriate age guidelines and instructions.)

7. Milk Snob Baby Wrap Carrier ($72) The Milk Snob Carrier Wrap is the perfect way to carry your child from birth until 25lbs.  Designed with us Texan mommies in mind, they’re light weight, cool to the touch, and superrr fashion forward! Our little girl LOVES being wrapped. And her father and I are so thankful for this little invention. It’s the best way to save our backs and be able to get things done at the same time! Safe enough for preemies– I started wrapping Finnley when she was only 4lbs! (Be sure to visit Milk Snob’s tutorials for instructions.)

8. Munchkin Changing Pad Covers – 3Pack ($14) Tired of constantly changing your baby’s changing pad cover? So Was I! These are perfect for extra protection either on the go or on for fast clean up on your changing pad (on top of your changing pad cover). These are lifesavers!

9. Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($7) While in the NICU, the doctors taught us their best kept secret for fighting diaper rash. After every diaper change, put a small amount of Aquaphor on your babe’s diaper area. Our little girl has never had a diaper rash! The tubes are great for on the go, and we have a tub ($14) of Aquaphor on our changing table for faster application. Get the full instructions on my blog post here.

10. Audreys Bear Custom Baby Name Blankets ($39) Get 10% Off orders over $40 with promo code: “FINNLEY10”! Hands down my favorite baby gift. Create a one of a kind, personalized baby blanket for a crazy awesome price! While Finnley was in the NICU, we used them to personalize her little space– and over 200 washes later, they’re still as soft and cozy as ever! Read more about these blankets on my post here.

11. Gerber Slow Flow Bottles – 3pk ($5) A preemie MUST HAVE! These bottles helped Finnley come home. Like most babies born three months early, our little girl had trouble drinking from a bottle. She easily got overwhelmed and would choke and would have to return to a feeding tube. These bottles are what we used for the first two months after she came home. They’re truly “slow flow” and the BEST for preemies! After trying dozens of expensive ones, these were the only ones that worked and we couldn’t believe how cheap they were!

12. Dr. Browns Bottle Warmer ($33) This bottle warmer is a lifesaver! Forget putting bottles in a warm cup and waiting up to 15 minutes! The preset timer makes it easy for those 3AM bottle feedings when you just can’t muster up memory to enter in the numbers– just press the play button and your bottle will be safely warmed up in a matter of seconds!

13. Baby Jogger City Mini GT ($350) This stroller is an absolute God-send. It’s easily folded with one hand, in one swift move, and folds small enough to fit into my husband’s sports car. It’s perfect for those with an active lifestyle– because of this stroller we’ve been able to take our baby girl with us on hikes! Seriously, THE BEST INVENTION EVER! (Be sure to look at the Adapter Guide to see which part you’ll need to attach your carseat to the stroller.)

14. L.A. Baby Commercial Grade Changing Pad ($36) The safest changing pad you’ll find. If you’re like me and are terrified of your baby rolling off your changing table, then look no further! This changing pad has tall sides, a seatbelt so secure your child, and it capabilities to permanently attach it to your changing table surface. (Despite it’s safety, it’s important to remember that you should never leave your child unattended.)

15. Feed Baby App ($4) I had trouble keeping track of pumping, breastfeeding, and bottle feeding. It’s perfect for NICU moms or just moms in general. Forget writing everything down on paper you’re just going to lose. It even creates reports to easily track how much your baby is consuming. It’s a mommy must have!

16. Ryan and Rose Cutie Clips ($15) Before our little girl was able to use a Wubbanub, we were always losing pacifiers. So you can imagine how our lives were forever changed when we discovered Ryan and Rose’s Cutie Clips! With dozens of stylish designs, these adorable paci clips will change your life! And you can even personalize the clip with your little one’s engraved initials. They make the very best gifts!

17. Dr Browns Bottles – 4pk ($16) Our little girl greatly struggled during feeds. We dreaded feeding her for fear of her choking or spitting up. As soon as we were able to switch her off the Gerber Slow Flow Bottles, her physical therapist recommend Dr Browns Bottles. And WOW. Their patented technology is proven to reduce colic by preventing air from escaping the bottle. These are AMAZING, and completely changed our lives!

18. DM Charm Co. Custom Bar Necklace ($30) It’s quickly become my favorite accessory. Read more about the necklaces in my blog, here. And now through May 31st, get 15% percent off your order with promo code: “FINNLEY15.” I just love how you can personalize your pieces with whatever you like — your anniversary, a loved one’s birthday, names, or initials. And they make gifts that much more personal.

19. Grass Drying Rack ($15) Quite possibly theeeee cutest drying rack you’ll ever see, it’s perfect and stylish so you can leave it by the sink. Don’t leave your drying bottles and pump accessories on the counter– keep them clean and sanitized on this adorable drying rack! You can even add “twigs” ($5) for smaller pump parts, pacis and other little items.

20. Milk Snob Nursing Kimono ($85) This one of a kind kimono is everything the stylish, fashion-forward breastfeeding mama needs. It’s buttons quickly transform it from a kimono to nursing cover– I know it’s hard to believe, but trust me– whether you’re a pumping mom, or breastfeeding mom, this is a must have!

21. Dr. Brown’s Electric Steam Sterilizer / Microwavable Steam Sterilizer  ($50) / ($20)  Preemies require a lot of TLC– including extra protection from germs. The easy one-button electric steamer safely steam sterilizes six bottles in 12 minutes for your convenience. If you’re wanting to save some budget wise, you can get the microwavable sterilizer– just put your bottles in this special container, add water, and microwave it to ensure your clean bottles are sanitized for your baby’s protection. (Doctors recommend that your baby’s bottles be sterilized until they reach 1 year of age.)

22. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35 Carseat ($300) European items are known for safety because Europe demands more strenuous testing than the US, this is especially true when it comes to car seats. This carseat is perfect for little preemies, because it’s safety rated for babies as small as 4lbs, but will convert into a seat large enough for a 35lb infant. It’s fashion-forward, sleek, and extra safe design is just gorgeous, and it was everything we needed for peace of mind while on the road with our little girl.

23. Zipper Onesies – 2pk ($12) Trustttt me, 2-piece sets are adorable, but at 3AM, you won’t care what that baby is wearing– and keeping socks on are a nightmare. These zipper onesies (or any zipper onesies for that matter) are lifechanging. It’s our new prerequisite when Finnley’s at home, because of convenience. She hates being changed, so these easy on and off onesies were a lifesafer! They help prevent messes too!

24. Sweet N’ Swag Moccs ($20) That’s right, just twenty dollars for your little one’s moccs. And better yet, these moccosins have transitional sizes so they can be worn longer. They have an elastic opening which allows the shoes to stay comfortably on your child’s foot. Each shoe is lined with cotton to keep the foot dry & warm. They also have flexible soft sole inserts which make these both great crib shoes as well as walking shoes for any age… So what are you waiting for? The prints are adorable and their pricing is affordable. Look no further for baby moccs!

25. Wubanub Pacifier & Friend ($13) Distributed in NICUs and hospitals worldwide, these one of a kind pacifiers help keep the paci in your baby’s mouth, and also give them a cuddly friend to hang out with. Perfect for babies who hate losing their pacis (aka: all paci lovers.) These adorable little friends are a must have!

26. Contours Bassinet ($137) This one of a kind bassinet transforms from a sturdy bassinet to a moses basket for safe co-sleeping. Handles on the removable Moses basket allows you to easily carry baby anywhere in the house. When your baby grows out of the bassinet stage, it transforms into a changing table. It has a hanging deluxe storage organizer and diaper stacker keeps baby’s items hand. The quilted and padded interior with mesh side windows provides good air flow. It’s the best!

27. Sleepy Snail SoundSpa Light & Noise Machine ($40) NICU grads are known to need noise, and newborns love listening to sounds when the sleep. This is the BEST noise machine. It can be safely harnessed to your crib, or stand it up right on a nearby surface. It has 5 noises and 5 songs to choose from (our favourite is the rainfall setting.) You can set the timer, or let it go all night. The motion picture projector puts on an adorable animal lightshow on your ceiling, or use the engaging light display to captivate and calm your little one.

28. AngelCare Monitor System ($230) Protect your NICU grad from sleep apnea and safely monitor your baby’s breathing with this incredible monitor system. It safely monitors your baby’s movements with the sensor that’s safely placed under the mattress. Keep an eye on your baby’s crib thanks to the live video feed transmitted from the nursery unit to the parents unit. The camera angle is adjustable and the night vision will help you feel at ease. We highly recommend it!

29. Honest Company Diapers & Wipes Bundle ($88) Our little preemie’s sensitive skin made purchasing diapers and wipes tricky– that is, until we discovered the Honest Company. For just under $80 a month, you’ll get all the diapers and wipes you need– delivered to your doorstep! The diapers come in adorable prints and are eco-friendly, ultra absorbent & free of lotions, fragrances & latex. Also included are 4 packages of Honest Wipes — plant-based, soothing, super thick, ultra versatile. After using Honest’s products you won’t want to use anything else for your little babe.

30. Noodle & Boo Essential Care Kit (Shampoo / Body Wash / Lotion) ($35) If you’re obsessed with that baby smell like I am, then you’ll be a big fan of Noodle & Boo. Featuring provitamin B5 and vitamin E, the soap-free formula hydrates and strengthens to promote healthy, silky-soft skin and strands. It’s just the best smelling stuff ever!

31. Koala Baby Duck Bath Cozy ($15) Because Finnley was born in the winter, we hated giving her baths. I was always afraid that she’d get cold. That is until I received this oversized (and adorable) ducky washcloth. It’s perfect to place over your baby’s body while giving a bath to keep baby warm. It’s a win + win!

32. 4 Moms Infant Bathtub ($50) This is quite possibly the best baby tub ever invented. It’s side drains allow dirty water to flow out while clean water flows in. And it features a built-in digital thermometer with a color-coded temperature display. It fits most single and double sinks and will change your life! It also includes a rinse cup that conveniently fits into the integrated rinse cup holder.

33. Optodrum App ($5) NICU grads are known to sometimes struggle with eyesight. This app came highly recommended by one of Finnley’s doctors. It’s an easy tool to use at home to promote healthy eye development. It features several stimulating patterns that will keep the baby’s eyes busy and growing.

34. Little Unicorn Brookside Tote ($75) I’m obsessed with Little Unicorn’s diaper bags. They’re brilliantly designed with the fashion-forward mama in mind (and fairly priced!) It’s great for more formal events and functions. Boasting a combination of clean style and straightforward function. It has 8 pockets, wipeable vegan leather, a handy key hook, equipped with IPad pocket, a cushioned changing pad and matching stroller straps.

35. The Crafted Co. Headwraps & Bowties ($10-$16) Hands down, the cutest, most comfortable and affordable bowties/headwraps. I loveee these headwraps for my little girl because they’re adjustable, meaning– they will grow with her. Finnley wore the headwraps as soon as she came home at 37 weeks, and six months later she’s still wearing them. LOVE!

36. Day One Journal App ($3) A journal-styled application. I loved using this to keep track of Finnley’s progress, what I was feeling, and photos of the day. It’s a wonderful place to store all of your memories. Once you create a profile, you can log into it on your desktop, or any device.

37. Groovebook App ($3/monthly) Tired of going to the store to print off photos? Then this is for you! Perfect for busy moms, this app prints up to 100 of your phone photos and creates a beautiful 4.5″ x 6.5″ photobook and mails it to you monthly. The photos can stay in the adorable little booklet but are also perforated for easy removal. I love adding my favorite photos of the month and having them printed– and now I have a library of adorable little photobooks.

Discriminating Mommies

Let's make motherhood a beautiful thing. Can we learn to support and encourage fellow mamas? rachelaz.com

dis·crim·i·na·tion          noun: discrimination;
1. the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things.
2. recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.”discrimination between right and wrong.”

Prepping for motherhood can be absolutely terrifying. To co-sleep, or not to co-sleep. Wide-mouthed bottles, or traditional… oh wait, should I plan to use a bottle at all?

As a first-time momma, I felt absolutely overwhelmed through pregnancy. I was terrified. Petrified. I was bombarded with all kinds of statistics, opinions, articles, and research on the daily. Nursing, immunizing, birthing, professional care… all the options and arguments circled my thoughts and closed in on my emotions. It was an overwhelming, constant feeling of, “I should be doing more.” And if I’m perfectly honest, I still fight it today.

So, let me just start out by saying that I’m not arguing for or on behalf of a particular parenting topic. But instead, my heart is to hopefully broaden our perspectives and face the real issues.

We live in a society that lives and breathes to replace one idol with another. If it isn’t fame, it’s fortune, or success, or goal achievement, or superficiality, or a certain relationship, or self-improvement, or a particular job position. We’ve become convinced that we are sovereign over our own lives. And while we are indeed responsible for our actions, we’ve lost the freedom that comes with entrusting our Creator with our lives and worshiping Him alone.

We’re bombarded with and constantly reminded of what we don’t have, what we do have, or why we aren’t good enough. We obsess with what we believe in, or the choices we make; to the point that they themselves become a part of our identity.

With one year of motherhood under my belt, I can confidently say that the same struggles come with motherhood.

When we have a good mommy day; we’re great. And when we miss the mark or it’s challenging; we’re miserable. Just like everything else, motherhood can quickly become an idol. And our preferences, routines and parenting styles can easily become a part of our identity.

We allow them to define us and take it personally when people don’t agree with our styles or share similar perspectives. We get bent out of shape over feeding techniques, oils, health standards, professional advice, and physician care.

We allow the real enemy to come between us. And before we know it, it’s high school all over again, full of mean-girl cliques, “she said’s”, peer pressure, and “did you see what she did’s.” It’s silliness. It’s absolutely ridiculous. And yet, I fight it, and have found myself guilty of it many times.

How did we get here? Where did it start?

The older I get, the more I recognize my desperate need for Christ. Comparison, gossip, and judgement are not new tricks. The enemy’s just really good at disguising them. And now more than ever (even more than in high school.) I need Christ.

I need Christ to lead my husband and me as we seek out wisdom. I need Christ when it comes to bridling my tongue against gossip. I need Christ when it comes to guarding my heart against judgement. I need Christ when it comes to loving my family well. I need Christ to silence the voices of insecurity, pride, and selfishness. I need Christ when it comes to encouraging my sisters and fellow mommies.

I need Christ more than motherhood. More than my husband. More than my daughter. More than anything. I need Christ. He alone is worthy of my worship. He alone must be my source.

While I was pregnant, I fought so many feelings of insecurity and judgement when it came to our original plan. We chose a hospital, high risk doctor, and epidural, for Finnley Haven’s birth. I was told all about articles, horror-stories, and statistics which had underlying undertones of fear. Well-meaning people whom I love and adore lovingly tried to me that we weren’t choosing what was best for our daughter. I fought feelings of being judged, bullied, and almost discriminated against.

We didn’t get to our much prayed about “birth plan” due to severe pre-eclampsia at 29 weeks. But I am so very thankful for our doctor whom the Lord led us to. She stayed up all night while I was in critical condition, on her night off. She performed an emergency c-section the following day (on her other day off) and saved our lives– by no exaggeration. We’re also so very grateful for the hospital and incredible nurses who literally kept our little preemie girl alive for her first two months of life. God used our little “plan.” 

I say all this to say, that I understand this is the plan the Lord led us to. It was His sovereign hand on our lives. He led us, and He kept us. So, I mustn’t judge anyone if they’re being led in a different way than myself. Because who am I to know what the Lord has planned for their lives? 

There are risks to all kinds of births and parenting styles. Fear shouldn’t ever be the deciding factor. There is no perfect, fail-proof way to have a baby. Which is why we must put our trust in Christ alone as we seek out wisdom. If you seek the Lord He will lead you. Entrust the outcome to Christ. Trust His best for your family– through the boatloads of articles, opinions, statistics, and options. He has a plan, and He’s not up there freaking out. He is with us.

I love the wealth of information that’s out there, but at a certain point I think the best thing we can do to love our mama friends well is to pray for them, hold our tongues and wait for them to ask us for advice, and be okay if they don’t.

I want to trust that God knows my friends. He will lead my friends in the best path for their children. Just like there’s a reason He made Johnny and I Finnley’s parents; there’s a reason why He chose my friends to parent their littles.

Can we as mamas encourage and empower each other instead of sizing each other up and trying to convince each other of our own personal convictions when it comes to birthing/immunizing/parenting? Can we be a safe place, and extend grace to others when they struggle? Can we lean on Christ while fighting against pride and gossip amongst us? Can we point others to Christ, instead of some article?

Our mission as moms should be to make Christ our foundation, as we seek Him for wisdom and entrust our children to Him. He is good. He is for us. He is with us. 

There’s no easy or perfect way to parent, so let’s do everything in our power to support and encourage our fellow mamacitas. Let’s build each other up in Christ and stop discriminating mommies. Let’s love each other deeply, and make sharing the bond of motherhood a beautiful thing.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.” [Proverbs 3:5-6]

xoxo,

   Rachel