Category Archives: Daniel Martin

Daniel is FOUR

Every year on Daniel’s birthday, I feel like I spend the day fighting back tears. I incessantly beg time to slow down, so I can savor one more minute of him at this age. Daniel is growing up, and I cannot accept it.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that I wrote about how I was pregnant with a baby and was dumping perfectly good wine down the sink to hide my pregnancy? I SWEAR that it was only two days ago when Daniel was clomping down the hallway in new shoes, just learning how to walk. And wasn’t it only last week that I was crying about him moving out of the crib and into his big boy room? How, how, HOW is it possible that I am the parent of a four year old??

Daniel is smart. He loves books and learning and will spout out the most random facts any chance he gets. He remembers every detail of what I think are very trivial, unimportant things, but he thinks are very important and not to be ignored or passed over.

Daniel is imaginative. The last few months have been amazing for Daniel’s imagination. At the beginning of the school year, Daniel was the kid who said, when other kids were crawling around on the floor saying they were dogs, “But you’re not a dog, you’re a kid.”ūüėĎ But now he pretends plastic golf clubs are Maui’s hook, tells me Elijah went out the window when he is in fact under the blanket still in his crib and uses a wrapping paper tube to row his boat down the hallway.

Daniel thrives on routine. Before bed every night we talk about what we will do in the morning. If in the morning we deviate from the plan it is a big disaster. We tell him what to expect when we go places, and when we’ve finished one activity he announces what is next on our agenda. He often asks for the plan, and we do our best to give it to him. We work on talking through unexpected schedule changes and staying calm instead of acting out.

Daniel is a sass mouth. He has to have the last word; he goes from zero to one hundred; and he can scream with the best of them. I have no idea where he gets this. None.

Daniel is loving. He often will look up from what he’s doing to tell Peter and I that he loves us, and he is always, always up for a biiiiiiiiiig kiss, hug or snuggle. He loves cuddling on the couch exclaiming, “Let’s get cozy!” and bringing a blanket over. He will still crawl in our bed when he’s up before our alarms go off in the morning. He wants to hold our hands as we walk him into school.

Daniel LOVES Elijah. He wants to wake Elijah up in the morning so they can play. He wants to sit by Elijah at the little table to eat a snack and always wants Elijah to follow him. He tells Elijah what to do, and like the good brother he is, Elijah always does it. Daniel is incredibly affected when Elijah goes into timeout, much more so than when he himself has to go in timeout. When Elijah when into his first timeout, Daniel sat at the kitchen table sobbing with real tears, “You can’t do that to my brother! My brother can’t sit in time out!” He is starting to be lost without his brother by his side.

Daniel loves movies and music. He can reenact entire scenes after he sees something one time. If he ever starts talking and it doesn’t make any sense, we just need to ask “Where is that from?” and we know he’s quoting a movie. He will often assign everyone a character and for days only call or refer to us by our assignment, getting upset when we forget and, God forbid, call him Daniel instead of Captain Hook. He sings along to songs in the car and will often correct us if we sing the wrong lyric at the wrong part.

Daniel likes having choices. In the mornings he chooses each item clothing – dark jeans or light? Star Wars shirt or striped? Shark or Mickey Mouse undies? He likes to know what his options are, weigh them out and then make a decision. Yogurt or applesauce with dinner? Fan on or off when he goes to sleep? Sheet or no sheet on his bed? His life runs much more smoothly when he has a say in how it goes.

Daniel is independent. He would often rather read a book or play with animals by himself than join the larger group of friends. This aspect of his personality has been a challenge for me. As a very social extrovert, who will almost always choose to be with someone else rather than alone, I worried. Was Daniel making friends? Did kids not like him? Was he lonesome and sad? Yes he was making friends; yes kids liked him and no, no he was not lonesome and sad. It took a long time, and I’m still working on this, to realize that alone does not mean lonely.

Daniel adores his dad. He has always been more of a daddy’s boy than a mama’s boy. He runs to the door when Peter gets home from work, ready to greet him and tell him something important. I bribe him to let me spray down his hair by telling him, “But don’t you want to be handsome like Daddy?” He prefers Peter dropping him off at school or the babysitter’s and just loves when he gets to go to the store with just Dad.

People have often asked me what my favorite age is with my kids. To be totally honest, I like them all, for very different reasons. This age has been a challenge, with Daniel bordering on the line between being a kid and being a toddler, pushing limits far past where I’d like him to. Confidently know what he likes and what he doesn’t, what he wants to do and what he’d like to skip.

But on the other hand, this age is so much fun. We can have a conversation and make jokes and be silly. He is proud of himself when he does something great. He is confident in his choices. He always ends the day with a hug and a kiss and an “I love you,” even if he is upset.

I could not be more proud or more in awe of the person our Daniel is becoming.

Our Daniel is four.


Arrrrrrr, Matey

Well, I’ve completely failed at blogging my second pregnancy, which has been SO DIFFERENT than my first one, and I KNOW I’ll be regretting not writing about it. And now we’re suddenly 4 weeks from D-Day.

In a quick summary, if we aren’t Facebook friends or you don’t follow me on Instagram, Baby R2 is a BOY. And it was very, very obvious in the ultrasound. I’m really excited that the boys will be almost exactly 2 years apart because I will obviously force them to be best friends.

Our big project the last couple of months has been¬†converting the computer room (AKA the Packer room) into a big boy room for Daniel. (ūüė≠ūüė≠ūüė≠) Guys. I don’t know how people move their cuddly wuddly babies from their cribs into twin beds that are the size of a yacht without another baby coming. The only reason that I am¬†semi-ok with moving Daniel to a new room is because in a few weeks there will be a new little cuddly wuddly baby to replace my firstborn.

It was super fun envisioning Daniel’s new big boy room because we know he’s a boy and HELLO THEMED BEDROOM. I found an adorable bedding set from Land of Nod and that was the base of my inspiration. Anyways, here are the pictures of the Packer room that was then converted into an adorable toddler boy’s room. Let’s agree right now that just about anything would have looked better than this.

And now these are the after pics. All decorations, and I mean ALL decorations, are from Hobby Lobby. Seriously, such a great store.

We have a toddler gate, but hello, not going to ruin the photo with THAT eyesore.

So I bought that little treasure chest that’s on the headboard for Daniel to keep all of his trinkety toys in (he’s obsessed with Tsum Tsums. Why? I have no idea.) and it was such a good purchase. He carries his “box” all over the place and it’s adorable.

Guys, I KNOW that throw/decorative pillows on a toddler bed are the most pointless things ever. But please. LOOK AT HOW CUTE THEY ARE.

For Daniel’s second birthday (ūüė≠) we bought him a red kitchen set, and it’s going to go right below this wall decor. And I’m also going to add a little sign that says “Galley” in this area.

Curtains are from Home Goods. Another fab store for home decor.

Jenna got this backpack for Daniel for Christmas, and it’s one of his favorite things.


What is with kids being obsessed with opening and closing things? I have no idea what will go in this thing but SERIOUSLY SO CUTE.

Last night was the maiden voyage in the pirate room. I was very emotional (so many changes + pregnancy hormones have made for a VERY fun house!), but held it together until we closed Daniel’s bedroom door.

Daniel went down like he has been sleeping in that room his entire life. And I was very offended. Like, seriously, why was he being so mature about this? YOU ARE NOT EVEN TWO, HAVE SOME EMOTIONS ABOUT LEAVING YOUR CRIB.


20 minutes later, I heard Daniel knocking at his door and saying, “Mommy? Hello?” And ok. Even though I wanted him to go to sleep and everything, part of me was also like, “OK, he DOES still need me!!!”

And then for the next¬†two hours we had a lot of up and down and tears (not from me) and settled on moving a folding chair into Daniel’s room, and I sat in the chair beside his bed until he fell asleep.

He slept through the night, which was just delightful. I did NOT sleep through the night because there is an almost full-term baby on my bladder, and I kept jolting awake thinking that my child needed me.

Usually, Daniel wakes up around 7. Well, this morning at 5:15 am I heard knocking on his bedroom door and a tired little voice say, “Mommy? Come here! Mommy! Come here!” So I went in his room and we were up for the day!

I put him down for his nap about 2 hours early; the boy was SO TIRED. An hour later, after many ups and downs and him locking himself in his bedroom twice, I finally sat in the chair beside his bed and he was asleep in about 5 minutes.

Ok, I’m getting teared up just looking at this picture because my babyyyyyyyyyyyy.

So. That’s what’s been going on. Daniel is basically an adult, but it’s like, fine, because another baby is coming.

Note to self: blog really soon about my second pregnancy before the baby is actually here.

First Birthday: THE PARTY

Oh my gosh, you guys. Do you know what? I LOVE planning parties. I LOVE hosting parties. I have been excited about my child’s first birthday since before the child existed for an embarrassingly long time. A theme! Cupcakes! Party favors! Food! Balloons! The gamut!

I should probably say that I am completely aware¬†that Daniel will not remember this party. But do you know what? I have decided that this party is as much for me and Peter as it is for him. We’ve survived the first year of parenting! Being Daniel’s first BIRTHday party, I feel completely justified in celebrating the fact that I birthed a human one year ago.

Anyways! The party! Great reason to get the landscaping around the house redone! I’m sure at some point or another, I’ve shared that we are not really the outdoorsy types.We like to spend time¬†enjoying the outdoors, but not gardening or mowing the lawn. So, with that being said, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that our landscape went to hell.

Blah, blah, blah now our house looks totally fab.

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I forgot to take a before picture, but this is a pretty close representation of what the house looked like.

OMG can you even stand it?? I feel like when people come to our house now, they’ll be like “Wow! These people really have it together!”¬†It’s a nice first impression before they really get to know what we’re like.

Anyways, party weekend! Obviously because my body always has perfect timing, I got a HORRIBLE head cold the Thursday before the party. Basically my head feels like it’s been underwater for the last three days. I have to gage people’s reactions when I talk to them to get a read on the volume of my voice, and I can’t hear out of my left ear. It’s been fun.

My cousin Kelly and Marty’s fianc√© Kathleen came up on Friday and were a HUGE help to get everything ready.

After much theme deliberation, I decided on the “Uno” theme (thanks Nicole for the great idea!), and it was so fun. So fun! Daniel was so great the entire day. He’s such an extrovert; as soon as people were here and he realized he was the center of attention, he was like WHAT NAP?! He¬†powered through the afternoon, went to bed at 7:30 and woke up at 8 this morning.

The weather was BETTER THAN I COULD HAVE DREAMED with clear blue skies and a high of 80*. Seriously. Just an overall gorgeous weekend with too much food, wonderful family and friends, and celebrating our sweet boy. Sigh.

Enough talk, here are the pictures. And there are a lot of them because I need to document what an awesome mom I was to my first-born to show my other children that at one point in life I had it together you only turn one once.

One more thing – my nice camera that I got for Christmas a couple of years ago WASN’T WORKING and I was about to cry. So excuse these nast iPhone pictures. I don’t want to talk about it.

I spent an embarrassing amount of time on this sign but I LOVE IT. I was too proud of myself, guys. Too proud. (Also, the blue was more readable in real life.)

Bowls were filled with red, blue, green and yellow M&Ms because Kathleen likes sorting.

I also spent an embarrassing amount of time last Saturday night designing this banner. (Also something I’m too proud of.)


Here’s a close-up of the banner with two of my favorite monthly pictures.


FullSizeRender 3
Simple decor in the living room.

Are these mini Uno cards not the cutest things you’ve ever seen??

We kept the food pretty simple – very “summer cookout”.

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Adrianna also made these ADORABLE animal cupcakes because she is amazing.

It used to be SO MUCH EASIER to take pictures of Daniel before he was a toddler.

I had intel that Daniel was getting a water table, so I alerted parents to bring sunscreen and swimsuits. Still smiling at how much fun all the tots had at the party!

While everyone was sweating in the sun, Lindsay said, “Daniel should probably open his presents, because there’s something else that the kids would probably like.”

We are going to have a summer o’ fun with tons of outside toys and countless adorable outfits.

Daniel was SO TIRED at this point, but when he saw the cupcake, he obviously acted like he hadn’t eaten in 3 days. (Please note his wooden spoon that had to be on his tray while he ate.) (Also, the¬†real reason that I was so thrilled about the weather was because the cake smash could be outside. Priorities.)

Love does not even begin to describe how I feel when I look at this picture.

Ugh. What a fabulous day. FAB.U.LOUS. DAY.

Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate our little guy. We love that we have so many wonderful people in our lives!

So many emotions this weekend.

But what else is new?

First Year


Guys. I haven’t written in so long! I feel like I JUST wrote about how Daniel was born and perfect and all things rainbows and sunshine because OMG God entrusted us to care for another human.

Turns out that was a year ago, and in the last year I have put many other things ahead of writing, namely making sure Daniel isn’t going to bed with sheets that he peed on. (Ok, ok, that happened once or twice, or was it three times?. But in the rush of the morning and then the tiredness of the evening I forgot to change his sheets that he had soaked through the night before. At least I put a blanket over the fitted mattress sheet. I’m not a monster.)

And now, I can’t even write about my baby anymore because he is NOW CONSIDERED A TODDLER per the email I got from this morning that didn’t come from “Your Baby This Week” but instead was “Your Toddler¬†This Week” and then the subject was “Your 1-year-old”.

Excuse me while I go weep.

Ugh. I have been struggling all week because I don’t know what emotion I want to feel.

Happy! Because hey! We survived the fist year! We ended the day on May 7, 2015 as a family of three and now we’re ending¬†the day on May 7, 2016 as a family of three, and I call that a win!

Sad!¬†Because Daniel doesn’t like cuddling unless he’s sick or SO TIRED that I don’t even WANT to cuddle with him because he’s whiny and snotty and throws his head back dramatically. (We’re still wondering where he got the drama gene ūüė≥)

Proud! Because Peter went on 9 work trips in the last year that were 7-10 days long, and Daniel and I survived*! And I went on 3 work trips (significantly shorter at 2-3 nights) and Peter and Daniel survived!

*Daniel and I learned that we both get sick of each other when it’s just the two of us and Peter is gone for more than 5 days. The feeling is mutual, so I don’t even feel bad saying it. (Ok, I feel¬†kind of bad.)

Lucky! Because seriously you guys, I kind of feel like we won the baby lottery with Daniel. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t blogged much, I think. No one wants to hear about how¬†good someone else’s baby is. I mean, he has his days – we all do – but overall, he’s a good person.

Frustrated. Two words. Bath time. I loathe bath time. Bath time was enjoyable for a few months when Daniel could sit up but not crawl or stand, and then he started being able to stand up and OMG the anxiety. One of my greatest fears aside from snakes and someone coming to get me in the middle of the night when Peter is gone is Daniel slipping in the bathtub and cracking his noggin’ on the faucet. He gets mad at me because I make him sit down. I get mad at him because, as I sternly tell him in my “mom” voice, “YOU KNOW THE RULES! NO STANDING IN THE BATHTUB” Effective parenting at it’s finest.

Overwhelmed. Because I’m feeling all of these emotions.

For his birthday, we spent the whole day together as a family, starting at 6 a.m. with just Daniel and Mom time, which was mostly a photoshoot because I put balloons in his crib right when he woke up. He was SO HAPPY, and as my sister said, “the definition of ‘good morning, Sunshine.'”

“I woke up like this.” Seriously. He woke up like this. And he wakes up like this most mornings.

Then at 7 we woke Peter up and Daniel got to play in Mom and Dad’s bed for about 25 minutes because OMG THROWING YOURSELF BACK ON THE BED AND PILLOWS IS SO MUCH FUN. And then he spit up all over our bed. Because I love myself more than my child (not really, but kind of) I already changed the sheets. Standards.

Then around 8:15 it was breakfast time, and I’ve decided that another birthday tradition aside from balloons in your crib in our house is that you get to have a sprinkle donut for breakfast. Daniel hadn’t experienced the joy of a sprinkle donut until this morning, and to be honest with you, I was quite disappointed in his reaction. He didn’t like it. As my sister Rachel said, “He must get that from the Romenesko side” because you won’t meet a Vanderstappen who doesn’t like sweets.

He’s thinking “Mom, WTF I want pancakes. You KNOW I love pancakes.”

After the failed donut experience, it was bath time (ūüôĄ) and then WOW was Daniel tired after a morning filled with such excitement!

He napped in only his diaper because I was not about to chance his birthday shirt getting peed on during nap time. 

THREE HOURS LATER he woke up from his nap and he packed up and went to the zoo. Peter and I knew the NEW Zoo existed, but we had no idea it existed only 19 minutes from our house. The weather was great, Daniel was SO well-behaved, and it was quite a splendid afternoon.

Looking at this picture now I’m kind of laughing. We didn’t go boating despite his whale hat and shark blanket. Also, Daniel carries his wooden spoon everywhere and it’s awkward to explain to people because wooden spoons have a bad rap for discipline and not play time.

Daniel looks like this monkey when he is nakey.

I love this picture because it looks like Daniel is a person with a baby head and arms and man legs.

After an afternoon nap, Peter and I – good parents that we are – ditched Daniel with Daniel’s¬†godfather’s family to attend an event at St. Norbert College.

What a delightful day celebrating one of the raddest people I know. It is so exciting seeing Daniel become a real person with opinions and attitude and enthusiasm for life. I mean, the kid gets excited when he gets into the tupperware drawer. TUPPERWARE.

Ugh, I love him so much.

Now I’m going to go hold a newborn sized diaper to remember Daniel’s little tush a year ago as I sob silently while watching my one year old sleep.

First Year Monthly

Baby Romenesko Post 17: The Nursery

I was so looking forward to deciding on decorations for the baby’s room. ¬†Of course I had imagined what I wanted the baby’s room to look like the very first time we toured our house¬†before we got pregnant, but once I got that positive pregnancy test, I could take action!

If you recall from our house tour¬†(I just looked at this post for the first time in years to get the link up… I’m going to have to do an updated house tour post! ¬†Perfect motivation to deep clean the house! ¬†The bare walls! ¬†The mismatched furniture! ¬†How the heck did we live like this??? ¬†For you Instagrammers, if you look up the hashtag #romeneskohousetour there are a few pictures of what our house looks like today), when we first moved into our house, we had a Packer room and a Brewer room. ¬†Pete claimed the Packer room as his own, so we transformed the Brewer room from a “I don’t know where to put this, so throw it in there” room to a guest room.

Spare Room 1

image (4)It was so nice having a guest room that had a bed in it, instead of guests having to sleep on an air mattress or in the living room or something.  I decided that our home would never go without a guest room, especially because we live far enough away from our families, that if someone comes to visit, they will be spending the night.

In January, we cleaned out the guest room to start making way for the baby. ¬†We moved the guest bed into the Packer room. ¬†Pete’s computer stuff is still in there, so now we’re motivated to get the basement finished to have a guest room again.

It was SO EXCITING seeing the room completely empty, knowing that we were customizing it for our little special someone!Spare Room 2Since we didn’t know the baby’s gender, we needed a gender-neutral nursery. ¬†To be honest with you, even if we did know the gender, we probably would have gone with something gender-neutral because Pete and I both despise painting, so having to switch colors more than once in 100 years is a lot for us.

Stripes are very in right now, so we did big stripes on one wall.  We went wild with tan and cream.

We didn’t want a specific theme for the baby’s room, like animals or anything. ¬†Instead, I focused on bright colors and books, since Pete and I are both avid readers. ¬†You guys. ¬†I LOVED DECORATING THE BABY’S ROOM.

Most of the decorations didn’t get done until I was on maternity leave because we were waiting for the dresser to get delivered. ¬†Since it was one of the central points of the room, I wanted to have the dresser before hanging anything on the walls. ¬†Ugh, it was so fun.

Here it is!!



DSC_0271I got the alphabet from Etsy, and B made the bookshelves.  We painted the shelves and the alphabet the same cream color as the stripes that are on the opposite wall.  For the Vanderstappen shower, Jenna had everyone bring a book for the baby, so our bookshelves were full before baby Daniel arrived, and it made my heart so, so happy.

DSC_0276My sisters, Marty’s girlfriend, and cousin Kelly went in on the bedding for us as a shower gift. ¬†We ordered it from Etsy. ¬†The woman that we worked with was fabulous. ¬†For no extra cost, you can tell her what fabrics you want for each thing (bumper, crib sheet, etc.) and she’ll customize it for you. ¬†So wonderful!

DSC_0002 (2)The map is from TJ Maxx Home Goods, but I ACTUALLY got it from my friend Amy. ¬†I had a vision of what I wanted on the wall above Daniel’s crib, and I had FINALLY found a picture on Pinterest of the PERFECT wall hanging. ¬†In addition to promoting reading at an early age, Pete and I really want to encourage travel and learning ¬†about and appreciating other cultures.

My mission was to find this map somewhere… But I didn’t know where. ¬†The same evening that I finally found the wall hanging on Pinterest, Pete and I went to our friends’ house. ¬†As Amy was giving me a tour of their beautiful home, she opened a closet and there it was! ¬†She had purchased the map months ago and decided she didn’t want it. ¬†But she didn’t have the receipt so never returned it. ¬†Fate! ¬†I bought it from her, and it is just perfect in Daniel’s room.

DSC_0269I’ve never been a huge fan of the built in desks in the kids’ rooms in our house (it makes it hard to arrange furniture – there are only like, 2 options for where we can put beds, dressers, etc.), but we definitely put it to use in Daniel’s room! ¬†Perfect for diaper/wipe storage. ¬†Also perfect for…DSC_0006 (2)THE BABY KEURIG. ¬†Officially the Baby Brezza Formula Pro, but it’s essentially a Keurig machine for formula. ¬†One of the most unnecessary inventions of all time, but you guys. ¬†I LOVE THIS THING. ¬†You push two buttons. ¬†First, you choose the number of ounces that you want. ¬†Then you push start. ¬†In about 30 seconds, a bottle is made that is the perfect temperature and already mixed, so there is no shaking involved. ¬†Since we have this set up in Daniel’s room, I put two bottles on the desk before bed, and then at the early morning feeding all I have to do is walk across the hall, and everything is right there. ¬†Fabulous!

There are just a couple more additions that the room will have before it’s absolute perfection. ¬†Peter’s mom is making us curtains, so I’m excited to see how those look. ¬†In the closet, the shelving in there is really annoying and inconvenient, so we bought a closet organizing system from Ikea to put in there. ¬†Now to find the time to do it….



Motherhood. ¬†It’s exhaustingly wonderful, isn’t it?

I was so unprepared for the immediate impact that this sweet boy would have on my heart.

Photo by Susan Huntington

People told me that I would learn a whole new type of love when I had a baby. ¬†I didn’t know what to expect when I met Daniel, but it was like my whole body was overcome with this tidal wave of glitter and rainbows and all things magic. ¬†I’m suddenly looking at life through these lenses that give everything on this already fabulous world¬†a whole new sparkle and shine.

Photo by Susan Huntington

Well, something like that anyways.

On May 7 at 10:09 PM, my life changed in a way that I never could have imagined. ¬†I can never go back to what it was before 10:09, and I never want to. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I loved (almost) every second of life pre-Daniel, but, though I sometimes had my doubts, I didn’t realize how ready Peter and I were for the next chapter in our life together.

I mean, let’s get serious. ¬†How did we ever live without monster feet in our lives?


Without these pouty lips?


Without this guppy face??

IMG_0673I knew that motherhood would be an emotional rollercoaster.  With Daniel being in the NICU for his first 10 days, I felt higher highs and lower lows in a shorter period of time than I was expecting.  Guys, I cried a lot.  Without Pete, I would have been a much more visible mess than I was.

When Daniel got moved to the NICU, it was hard. ¬†In that moment, I thought that it wouldn’t get any more difficult for me; that the tears I cried from there forward would be happy ones because Daniel was making progress or we were going to be on our way home. ¬†In that moment, nothing could be worse than seeing my baby being stuck for an IV and hooked up to machines.

How naive of me.

On Mother’s Day, I had my first big breakdown. ¬†It was clear on that day that Daniel wouldn’t be going home on Monday or Tuesday – the original “probably” date that the doctor gave us. ¬†Because Pete and I hadn’t planned on being in the hospital for more than two nights, on Sunday afternoon we went home to get more clothes.

My first Mother’s Day

Daniel’s first Mother’s Day craft, with a little help from his nurse friends.

I cried when we left the hospital, because it felt so wrong leaving Daniel behind.  When we got to our house, I started REALLY crying.  When they visited, my mom and Jenna had gone shopping to get clothes for Daniel that they had washed, folded, and put in his room; they cleaned the entire house; and they set up some of the things we would need for when we got home.

His swing and Pack-n-Play were set up in the living room.  His cradle, the one that all 6 of my siblings and I used when we were babies, was set up in our bedroom.  They organized his bedroom so that it would be just perfect for him when he got home.

IMG_0953I walked through house crying for two reasons. ¬†The first was that I couldn’t believe all that my mom and Jenna had done while they were here. ¬†The love I felt from them was overwhelming.

The second was that, despite how wonderful it was to have all of these things ready for Daniel, it was one glaring reminder of what was supposed to be.  A reminder of what was missing.  And it made me so, so sad.

Monday night was my biggest breakdown. ¬†The first few days, Daniel made all kinds of progress in the NICU, and then Monday, the amount he ate decreased from the 2 pm feeding to the 5 pm, and then at 8 pm he didn’t want to eat at all. ¬†He started spitting up bile, so by then it was clear something wasn’t right.

The nurse that we had was amazing (of course!), and explained different options for Daniel, and we ended up going the route of a feeding tube. ¬†Derek, our nurse, made sure to tell us that this was the best option because it would help Daniel get over the hump. ¬†It was NOT a step backwards, just a little help to get us going in the right direction again. ¬†Despite Derek’s reassurances, I walked back to our hotel room fighting back tears.


As soon as we got off the elevator, I¬†started sobbing, because I felt like it was just unfair. ¬†This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. ¬†We weren’t supposed to be sleeping in a hotel. ¬†We weren’t supposed to be separated from our baby. ¬†I felt like I had done something wrong because I was his mother, and the care that I had to offer Daniel just wasn’t enough.¬† I had never felt more discouraged. ¬†Despite knowing that the NICU was the best place for Daniel, I wanted him home SO BADLY that my entire body ached. ¬†I had my heart set on going home on Wednesday. ¬†I shouldn’t have done that, but I was trying to be optimistic, so I thought that hoping for Wednesday was the right thing to do. ¬†I ended up getting my hopes up so high that it ended up being a really, really hard crash down.

Peter let me cry on his shoulder, rubbing my back and telling me that it was going to be ok. ¬†He reassured me that I was a good mom. ¬†Pete is my rock, and I can’t imagine riding this rollercoaster with anyone except him by my side. ¬†He is the perfect life partner.

When we went back down for the 11 pm feeding, I was still feeling very sorry for myself.  I was trying to be positive, but it was so hard.  I could hardly look at Daniel without feeling like a failure and being mad at, well, the universe.


While we were with Daniel that night, a little boy got moved into the bed next to him. ¬†This little boy’s mom only held her baby for about 30 seconds before he got whisked away to the NICU, and she wouldn’t be able to visit him in the NICU until Wednesday evening. ¬†Remember, it was Monday.

That was a really big God moment for me. ¬†Here I was sobbing to the point of gasping for air because we weren’t home with our boy, when another brand new mom just like me couldn’t even¬†hold her baby. ¬†I could hold Daniel. ¬†I could snuggle his cheeks and kiss his toes. ¬†I could visit him anytime I wanted. ¬†I could feed him, burp him, soothe him. ¬†And yet, I was sobbing. ¬†I had never felt so selfish.

Talk about humbling.

Throughout the rest of the week, Jenna had reached out to other moms who prayed for not only Daniel, but also for me. ¬†Other mothers who knew that my heart was aching because I couldn’t help my boy. ¬†Other mothers who knew the prayers that I needed to give me strength and encouragement. ¬†And they worked.

Motherhood is exhaustingly wonderful.  It is divinely frustrating.

Sometimes, I’m crying at 3 in the morning along with Daniel because he just won’t go back to sleep. ¬†Sometimes, I get teared up just looking at the miracle that is our son. ¬†Sometimes, I find myself spending all day cuddling with Daniel, wondering where the day went, and how I lived without him.

I’ve finally found my purpose in life, the reason I was put on this earth.

It’s to be a mother.

Photo by Susan Huntington


Daniel was admitted to the NICU when he was about 17 hours old. ¬†Throughout his first day of life, Daniel wasn’t interested in eating at all, his legs and arms would get dark purple after being swaddled up, he wasn’t super responsive to things he should be responsive to (for example, he got pricked for a glucose test and didn’t even flinch), and he was soooooo sleepy.

Little pookie.

The NICU was¬†was the best place for him, but it was really hard for me to have him wheeled down there and admitted. ¬†I hadn’t even known this little person for 24 hours, and he already had such an impact on my heart. ¬†Seeing him not even flinch when they had to try to get him an IV three different times was heartbreaking, and really obvious that something really wasn’t right with our little guy. ¬†It just broke my heart not having him in the same room as Peter and me, so I had to keep telling myself that he was in the best place between tears.

After only a few hours on IV fluids, he started getting more pink and less purple, and he was more awake than he had been since he was first born. ¬†I didn’t see this though; Pete reported back to me. ¬†I felt like a horrible mom, because I couldn’t stand to be in NICU looking at him and feeling so helpless. ¬†I was tired and sore, so I used that as my excuse to just stay in my hospital room by myself. ¬†I was very sad and pitiful, to be honest with you.


The next day, I woke up with a new attitude. ¬†I was feeling optimistic and grateful that our nurse in labor and delivery was relentlessly calling the NICU every hour, consulting with other nurses, and calling Daniel’s pediatrician until Daniel was admitted to the NICU. ¬†My lactation nurse was just as persistent, coming in to check on Daniel throughout the day on Friday, and working with the other nurse to try to figure out what was going on in that little body. ¬†Just a few hours there, and he was a completely different baby. ¬†I realized later that we never got a picture of those two nurses, but we will be forever grateful.

The worst part about the NICU was that I couldn’t be with my baby 24/7.


The best part about the NICU was the nurses that work there.  The doctors were fabulous too, but the nurses were with Daniel around the clock, and that means that they got to spend a hefty amount of time with Peter and I too.

We had the same day nurse for Daniel’s first two and a half days in the NICU, and then the same night nurse for the first three nights.¬† Having this consistency right away was really helpful to me on an emotional level, because it let me connect to Daniel’s caregivers right away. ¬†I found that it was harder to make a connection with the nurses if they were only there for one shift and then off for a few days, especially if it was overnight when I went down to the NICU in a complete daze to nurse, pump, pray, and then return to our hotel room.


God had a plan when Daniel was placed in bed 17 in the NICU on that Friday afternoon. ¬†The first nurse – J – that we had for Daniel’s first weekend there was just the person that I didn’t know that I needed. ¬†Not only was she an amazing caregiver for my sweet boy, but she had a way of working with Peter and I that put us both immediately at ease – explaining what was going on in terms that we understood, reassuring us that the NICU was the best place for Daniel to be, and helping us make the best decisions for him.

J was also very personable – getting to know us, and letting us get to know her. ¬†Sharing her opinion when we asked for it, and always being very upfront with us. ¬†I immediately trusted her opinion, and found myself wishing she was there to consult with when decisions had to be made and she wasn’t working.


Those first few days in the NICU, I was working hard to get Daniel to try to nurse. ¬†Mother’s Day was the first time that he actually made an effort, so naturally I started to cry. ¬†When I looked up at J, she had tears in her eyes too, as she said, “The perfect Mother’s Day gift.” ¬†And it really was. ¬†Sharing that moment with someone¬†who understood how special it was made it that much better. ¬†Seriously, she was amazing.

Drunk on milk. This picture really cracks me up.

At the end of each nurse’s shift during Daniel’s stay at the NICU, I would ask when they would be back. ¬†If it was more than 2 days later, I would say, “It’s nothing against you, but I sincerely hope that we don’t see you again.” ¬†Because if we didn’t see them again, it was because we were able to go HOME. ¬†For quite a few of the nurses, we ended up seeing them again. ¬†But for others, we didn’t.

Peter’s all-time favorite face that Daniel makes.

When we left the NICU and were able to go HOME, it was SUCH a happy day.  Having Daniel unhooked from all of the cords and machines was amazing.  Being able to cuddle him and move more than 2 feet from his bed was fantastic.


A lot of parents had shared with me that when they first brought their brand new baby home, they looked at each other and said, “Now what?”


Pete and I didn’t have that. ¬†We brought him home, and picked him up, and loved not hearing any beeps.

It was definitely one of the top 5 moments of my life, finally being at home, with our perfect little family.


Thank you to all who prayed for Daniel, Peter and I while we were in the NICU with him. ¬†Words can’t describe our gratitude.

And also a huge thank you¬†to all of the nurses that cared for Daniel during his time in the NICU. ¬†You’ve impacted our lives in a way that you’ll never know, and we are eternally grateful.

Just a few of the wonderful people who cared for our little fella.