Back in (Maternity) Black

Back in (Maternity) Black

October has brought a crisp chill to Georgia. Even Covid can’t stop me from enjoying my pumpkin spice latte or wrapping up in my favorite fall scarf. The season changing has inspired me to do some changing of my own. A return to things that truly excite me.

I know that I am no different from anyone reading this. 2020 has been a challenging and often overwhelming year for us all. For me personally it has been a year of deep loss, isolation, relational struggle, growth, happiness, and great surprise. The good, the bad, and the lonely…this year has challenged me in emotional ways that I was not prepared for.

In January, I lost my father. The first man I ever loved. My daddy. In the midst of planning my son’s 2nd birthday party here in Georgia, I got the devastating phone call from Indiana that my father was dying. Bo and I loaded the kids into the car and drove through the night in the pouring rain to get there in time to say goodbye. We arrived within minutes of his passing. I’ve seen death before. But seeing him there in the hospital bed struggling to breathe and swollen from his failed body, it hurt worse than I imagined. My words seemed to fail me in the moment. How do you say goodbye to the man who raised you? The man that coached your sports teams and sat front and center in every dance performance, video camera in hand. The man that taught you how to be brave and independent. The man that held you when teenage boys broke your heart. I still don’t know the answer to that. My goodbye and my words were just not enough. And my heart is still raw from missing him.

Shortly after his death, a tornado devastated our neighborhood in Nashville. Our home (and thankfully the homes of our best friends/family) remained standing. The drastic loss of life and property in our neighborhood has had lasting effects on our community. And of course, shortly after the tornado devastation, Covid reared its ugly head. For Bo in I in Georgia, that meant many nights/weeks of Bo being partially quarantined on base at Ft. Benning. I was quarantined at home with two small babies. Navigating work, babies, sanity, health, grief, and isolation left us both incredibly depleted. It was a very difficult and dark time for our marriage. A marriage that we both want and strive to make exceptional. We both had nothing to give yet needed more than our share.

The month of May seemed to bring life back into a pretty grim and harsh year. We spent time with our family and found renewed joy, partnership, and admiration in our marriage. The world seemed to be slowly returning to normal and it filled me with hope. We excitedly discussed our personal and professional goals for the road ahead. Which for us, included waiting a bit for baby number three. As most of you know, we love being parents and want more children but we were excited to put that on the back burner for a bit and focus on the life in front of us. As you probably also know…God had other plans for us. A missed period and two pink lines confirmed…we would actually NOT be waiting for another baby. We are pregnant with baby number 3 and due in March.

Even when you want another child, a surprise/unplanned pregnancy can be a real shock to the system. Add in pregnancy hormones, severe morning sickness, and two emotionally charged toddlers and you can imagine the chaos. It was a hard beginning to my third pregnancy journey and one that I still struggle with on especially difficult days. I am incredibly grateful and excited about this new little life growing inside of me. As I’m entering month 5 of pregnancy, I love seeing my belly grow and feeling his/her little kicks and movements. For the first time, we will be waiting until birth to find out the gender of our new family member. We are both excited about experiencing such a momentous surprise. As this little one has surprised us from day one…it seems only fitting.

Bo has just finished his first command position in the Army and has recently started a new role here in Georgia. We are both hoping that this new position allows him more freedom and time. My husband is the hardest working man I know. He’s passionately attacking his real estate investment career while still giving 110% of his attention and care to the men and women he serves in the military. I see him really pushing himself to do things outside of his comfort zone and I am constantly in awe when I see him in action. Outside of his professional and personal goals, he is also a loving husband and attentive father. Probably his most challenging and demanding role of all.

So that’s what we’ve been up to. And life is moving forward. I like to think of myself as a “New Yorker”. Although I only lived there for 6 years, that time in my life really impacted who I am as a person. When I used to fly home to Indiana from NYC, my father would often tease me for only wearing black. I still support the chic and always appropriate choice to wear black (and leather jackets for that matter) but lately the thought of my father teasing me has brought happy tears to my eyes. And it’s time. Time to return to myself. I am back in black. Or at least…back in all of my black stretchy maternity clothes. I’m excited to write more. To share more with my family, friends, and my community. To grow more. And to experience and embrace this new life as a mother of three.

Xoxo
Tara Layne

Georgia on my Mind

Georgia on my Mind

The squirmy and sweet little girl inside my belly must be a dancer. While she and I are both gaining weight rapidly, I am reminded that my body is not my own. There is a little girl growing and starting her journey in this world. A world full of love, beauty, heartbreak, and hopefully…a lot of dancing.

Slowly, the guest room is emptying and a nursery is taking shape. It’s the one room that I am looking forward to organizing. Most women enjoy the second trimester, but I don’t agree. The third trimester carries all the magic and excitement of pregnancy. Strangers congratulating you and touching your belly, shopping for baby clothes and organizing the nursery, and then of course counting down and anticipating the birth of this new little miracle. Such a magical time.

I am still adjusting to our life here in Georgia. Bo has been in a training course that is nearing completion and many of the people we have met are off to their next duty assignments. Stories of hectic moves and looming deployments have become common chatter amongst our group of friends. Thankfully for us, Bo will be taking command of a company here at Ft. Benning. We feel very blessed to know that he will be staying close to home for the foreseeable future and I don’t envy the strong wives that will be kissing their husband’s goodbye over the next year.

As our friends adjust to their new assignments and prepare to leave Georgia, I am preparing to give birth to my baby girl. As it was in DC with Camden, we will start our new family life without friends and family. A truth that doesn’t get easier with each new occurrence. If all goes as planned, our mothers and sisters will make the trip to Georgia for her birth. We will spend a week of quality time together breathing in her new smell and welcoming her into our tribe. Too shortly after her arrival, our family will leave and Bo and I will be adjusting to life alone with 2 under 2.

Living life hundreds of miles from our people weighs heavily on our hearts. Making new friends is imperative to our happiness in these new places. However, I find it very challenging to make new friends while pregnant. This pregnancy specifically has been very challenging on my body and I haven’t made the effort to connect with new friends. Something I desperately want as I bring this new life into the world.

There are only so many conversations my husband will endure about pregnancy and nursery decor. Only so many times he can nod and smile empathetically to my hormonal reactions on a daily basis. He’s a strong man…to be the only friend and family member of a very pregnant Georgia woman. I try to remember that when he needs the occasional “bro” time. And he tries to remember that as he opens his 4th beer and watches me begrudgingly sip pink lemonade. We are in this together.

As our baby girl reaches the final stages of development and prepares to join our family, we too prepare for our new life. One where we push ourselves to grow. Not just the growth that happens to an expanding family, but one of choice and intention for change. In new and existing relationships alike.

I look forward to liking you Georgia. I look forward to feeling at home here and finding “our spots” around this city. To seeing my husband’s investment goals here become a reality and learning how to be a working mother of two. To meeting new friends that will make life here in Georgia so much sweeter. I look forward to doing it all. Hopefully…while sipping a glass of wine.

Xoxo
Tara Layne

April Showers

April Showers

Spring has found its way to Georgia. Our newly planted flowers have bloomed and sitting outside under our patio lights, watching Camden explore his new surroundings has become my new favorite spot. April has made its way back around on the calendar, as it tends to do on a yearly basis.

April is a beautiful and celebratory month for my family. It is the month of my husband’s birthday, our wedding anniversary, and Easter. April is actually the month of several birthdays and anniversaries in my extended family and one of those birthdays belongs to my sister, Erica. After losing her to a car accident almost 19 years ago, April 24th will always be her day.

Maybe a woman never recovers from the loss of her sister. In my adult life, there have been so many moments that I have wanted her by my side. On my wedding day or at the birth of my son, her absence weighed heavily on me. And as I start this new journey as a mother to a baby girl, I ache for her guidance. And sisterhood.

It has become evident to me that female relationships in my life aren’t just important, they are critical to my happiness. And as I’ve built those relationships over the years, I am often surprised and hurt by the ones that don’t last. The deep friendships that are somehow set aside selfishly or injured and never repaired. It can make venturing into new friendships terrifying.

Laying that fear aside for the reward of new and deeper friendships is imperative. Next weekend, I am taking a trip with my two sister-in-laws. As I think of the trip, I can only wonder what it would be like to bring my own sister. To introduce her to these beautiful women and share experiences together as mothers, friends, and most importantly…sisters.

Some days are still hard without her. As I sit here writing this I wonder if she is looking over us. Enjoying the view of my new patio and watching my belly grow with anticipation for her niece. I will always miss my big sister. But especially in April.

Xoxo

Tara Layne

Made for More

Made for More

What is your morning routine? How do you start your day with purpose and joy? The morning routine has been a frequent topic in my conversations with my husband and my new friends here in Georgia. It seems to be on a lot of our minds as we intentionally setup our lives to get the most out of them.

A couple of weeks ago, as my first trimester morning sickness was easing and my mind was drifting to personal goals outside of creating tiny humans, I began to purposefully wake up earlier. Before Camden started daycare 3 days a week and for the first year of his life, it was he and I. He was my alarm clock, my noisy coworker, and my first priority. My “me” time was limited and my own personal endeavors/growth/goals seemed nonexistent. It was both wonderful and stifling as most new mother’s can attest.

Having a child seems to have had the opposite effect on my husband. For the last year, he has invested much of his thought into his career goals and dreams and devoted substantial time to personal growth and development. Which is wonderful. It has helped push me to grow and want more for myself. I decided to set my actual alarm and start my day with intentional time for myself. And that has changed everything.

In the early hours of the morning, my house is still dark. My husband has already ventured on to work or is hovering over his computer, podcast in his headphones. I make our bed, kiss our puppy, and saunter down the hall to make coffee. I usually head to my desk and begin my day with writing. I write the things I’m grateful for and my goals in a notebook as I sip my frothed coffee. Baby is sleeping. This time is for me.

As my day progresses, there are emails to return, boys to be fed (big and small), commutes, contracts, boxes to unpack, laundry to be folded…but for that hour, I am intentionally myself. After I journal, I allow the time to serve me. If I wake up with the desire to Pinterest baby girl nurseries for an hour…I do that. And I don’t feel guilt. Or expectations. I enjoy it and remind myself to embrace all parts of me. Most mornings, before I know it, I hear the softest, sweetest noises coming from the room next to mine. I flip on the monitor to see a little boy sitting patiently in his crib waiting to greet his own day. He is ready. And now…so am I.

Xoxo
Tara Layne

Two Pink Lines

Two Pink Lines

Before you existed I dreamt of you. I wanted you. How strange to love someone who doesn’t exist. How could I see my family, perfect and whole as they are and want more? How did I deserve more?

The honest truth is that raising a newborn baby is hard. It’s beautiful and the best thing that ever happened to us, but it changes your life. Expectations of your spouse grow and the lack of sleep hinders effective communication. Resentment is swift to creep into the cracks. Around October, Bo and I were coming out of a difficult season. And thankfully connecting in ways we hadn’t in years. Maybe ever. With love and respect as our guide. And that’s when it happened…the thought of you.

Amid conversations on packing up our current home (yet again) and details of the renovation project in Georgia, I managed to fit you into the discussion. For us, adding to our family is a big decision and one that we wanted to be certain of and make together. And although you were already on my mind, I knew your Papa might not be ready. And I was nervous to be vulnerable with my thought of you. One October Saturday, after a family trip to the gym and over the draft beer that followed (the healthiest of days) Bo and I had the “I’m ready for another baby” conversation.

I remember it well. And I felt supported by my husband and truly heard. Which is exactly what I needed. We finished our beers, walked home, and decided to revisit the conversation after some thought. In the early morning of December 1st, we woke up in our Arlington townhome. Surrounded by boxes and bubble wrap. He held me as he told me that now…he wanted you too.

Christmas morning. There you were. Two pink lines.

We love you.

Xoxo

Tara Layne