To My Deployed Airman

My Dear Husband,

You may consider this a pity party post. Well, if wanting to acknowledge my husband for what he does for a living makes me sound like I’m whining, then welcome to the party. BYOB, freeloaders.

Dearest darling husband of mine. You’ve been an airman for over 2 years now. We spent the first 7 months of our marriage separated while you were in training. We moved across the country together. We have raised two big puppies together. We’ve made one beautiful baby girl together. I couldn’t be more proud of us and how far we’ve come in just 8 years of knowing each other.

But I talk about us too much. What I mean is, I don’t talk about you enough. You, just you. What you’ve done. Who you’ve become. For me, for our family, for this country.

You’re cringing already, I know.

Because for some reason you don’t really believe what you’re doing is that big of a deal. You kind of scoff and shrug it off when people acknowledge your sacrifice. It’s a humble response, sure. To think, when the ultimate sacrifice to one’s country is to give one’s life for it, you may think that what you’ve given isn’t nearly as significant.

What have you given? 

The freedom to choose where to live, for one. The comfort of family close by. The pleasantries of living in the South. The closeness of friends. The familiarity of home. The ease of travel. 

You’ve given up your time. You’re at the beckon call of your job anywhere anytime. You have to spend nearly half the year overseas. Giving up time with your wife, time in your house, time you could be spending seeing your daughter grow, learn, develop, laugh, say her first words and cut her first teeth.

Dinners. Parties. Holidays. Birthdays. Graduations. Weddings. Funerals. 

And yet, all of this is an easy trade off for you, for the honor of serving something larger than all of this.

Husband, you’re amazing. And I need you to know your sacrifices mean everything to me. I’m humbled and amazed by what an honorable man you are. And no matter what you say, your job is a big deal. What you’re doing is important. Who you are and what you represent is so significant. And if it were possible for me to be speechless, I would be.

Don’t shrug it off when people thank you for your service, husband. Accept it with a full heart. Know that you can take their praise and multiply it out to the thousands who have served and sacrificed before you, so that you may serve our country today, for your family in your time.

Let all your works be made in thanks to those who have gone before you, bringing hope to the land of the brave and glory to our God Almighty.

Thank you, my airman, for being the best husband you can be and the best father our little girl could ever ask for. You honor us by sharing your name with us, and we are so proud to call you our airman. I love you.

Go get em, handsome.

Love Always & Forever, Your Mollybelle

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Genetics or Parenting? How Our Daughter Slept Through the Night at 2 Months

There’s no other way to say it: We are blessed. Blessed with a baby who, like her momma, loves sleeping. Blessed to have had full restful nights of sleep starting when she was around 2 months old. 

Y’all, I don’t claim to have had any influence in this phenomenon. I think she’s just an enigma of infancy. However, if anything we have done in our parenting thus far has actually caused her to sleep like an angel, I suppose I should document our sleep regimen here so I know how to try it again next time around.

No doubt about it, the newborn phase was rough. And we were realistic going in to it. We fully accepted that most parents turn into zombies when they have a newborn. We expected sleepless nights for several months. We expected our marriage to struggle under the weight of new responsibilities. We expected it to be … much harder than it turned out to be. So in a lot of ways, our harsh expectations made it easier to cope when the newborn phase was upon us.

The first week, we were shocked when Adelaide slept for a 5-6 hour chunk at night. They say a number of factors can cause that – she had thrush, she was jaundiced, she had an average birth weight but lost nearly a pound her first week, and breastfeeding was taking a little bit to get going. It wasn’t until the doctor told me I should be waking her up to nurse that I thought I was doing anything wrong.

But she didn’t like being woken up. She wouldn’t nurse well, she was more fussy, it just didn’t make sense to her. Plus she was gaining her weight back just fine. So I followed my wise mother’s advice and chose to just follow her cues. I let her sleep till she woke up, then we nursed. She took a nap every couple hours during the day, and had a nice 5-6 hour chunk of sleep at night. Now, there were some nights, probably during her growth spurt periods, where she was waking up every 2-3 hours, and those were hard. But they never lasted long.

We started a regimen from day one that worked for her. We swaddled her tight, arms in, in a Halo Sleepsack, and rocked/swayed/pat/sang/danced/walked/paced/bounced whatever we could do to get those eyes to close and the paci to fall out. Many nights, I would walk in circles around the house until the furnace kicked on in the laundry room, and I’d go sway with her in there because the loud noise soothed her. We also always had a white noise machine next to where she slept. So once she was paci-out asleep, we would lay her down in the Fisher Price Rock-n-Play, and tuck another blanket around her (the day she was born, it was 8 degrees outside, the girl needed some warmth). Sometimes she would get jostled awake in the transition from arms to bed, so I’d rock the Rock-n-Play for a bit till those eyes closed again.

That was how she slept till she was about 3 1/2 months old. I know a lot of people would scoff that I didn’t crib-transition her sooner, but I’ve been staying with my family out of town while my husband has been deployed these last few months and I couldn’t very well move her entire crib out here with us. Plus with all that transition, I felt the Rock-n-Play was the most comfortable for her at the time, it’s how she slept the soundest.

Forgive me for boasting, but the results speak for themselves. At around 2 months of age, Adelaide was sleeping for 8-9 hours straight, waking to nurse and play for 1 hour, then going back down for another 3-4 hours. 

At 3 1/2 months, she started being able to roll from back to tummy and tummy to back. We noticed she was starting to drift off to sleep while laying flat on her back a couple times. Again, following her cues, we then decided to transition her to sleeping flat in her Pack-n-Play. After about 2 weeks of learning what worked best, we’ve figured out that her best sleep now is swaddled in a Halo Sleepsack, arms out, in the Pack-n-Play – we start her out laying on her back, but she almost instantly rolls to her side or her tummy to sleep. I don’t correct her anymore. Now that she is coordinated enough to get herself turned back if she needs to, I don’t worry about suffocation or discomfort. She puts herself in that position and sleeps. 

So. For people who need lists. Here are our sure-fire sleep-inducers for Adelaide:

1) White Noise – hair dryer, vacuum, car, clothes dryer, furnace, TV, white noise machine, anything loud and consistent keeps her down through the little creaks and squeaks of houses and everyday life (and dogs with loud tails). We even had a portable noise machine for on-the-go white noise to keep her asleep on grocery or car trips.

2) Halo Sleepsack – we tried other brands that people had bought us, but she was always able to get her arms loose and then she’d wake up. Not with the Halo. It is the essential swaddle for dummies. Zip, tuck, tuck, done. The first one we had was the newborn fleece one, nice and thick for winter. Once she outgrew that we got the next size up in the thinner material, works like magic. Until she got through that flailing arms phase, she just needed having the arms tucked tight to sleep.

3) Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper – I liked that it was angled and cradled her in. We have a happy-spitter baby, so it put me at ease to know she wasn’t going to choke on her spit while she was sleeping. We also enjoyed that if she woke up fussy, I could often just rock it by hand and she would coax back down. Plus this was a much cheaper newborn sleep option than a proper “bassinet.”

4) Swaying – our girl almost always needs some movement when going to sleep. Whether it’s in momma’s arms (preferable) or in her Mamaroo (which she enjoys about 50% of the time), she just likes being moved. She likes being pat on the tushy and swayed back and forth, sometimes bounced lightly too. During the day, I would sometimes “wear” her in a Baby K’Tan wrap (again, only liked this about 50% of the time) so I could get chores done. The rocking and swaying of moving against me almost always put her to sleep.

The only advice I could give that I believe would work for any baby is to just be creative. If something doesn’t work, adapt and change it up. Try something different, don’t get flustered. If she’s having a day where she will only sleep in your arms, give her that day and try something new tomorrow. Remember, your arms are getting crazy buff holding that little chunker all the time.

And now a video of my absolute favorite part of the day, waking up in the morning to this sweet, warm, heavenly-smelling angel. I’ve never been a morning person in my life, but I can’t wait for this moment every morning with her.