Thursday, June 20, 2013


"here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)"
-ee cummings 

Happy 11 Months to Baby and 1 Year to Blog!

Looking back through some old posts, I realized that two big events happened today! My baby turns 11 months and this blog turns1 year old! I started the blog longer than a year ago but brought it back and have been dedicated to it for a whole year now. I mean, as dedicated as you can be with a baby and a full time job. This blog has been a wonderful outlet for me and I'm looking forward to many more posts to come. Happy birthday Becoming Mrs. (and Mommy) Branham!

Now, this little one of mine. Big girl is a MONTH away from being a year old. Holy cow. It's awesome how much she changes day to day these days.

  • She's crawling (fast!) , pulling up and walking (with help!) I love to see her standing up in her crib when I come into her room in the morning. She squeals with delight and it's seriously the best possible way to start my day.
  • She is still a great eater. She's also into feeding me now. She will hold out soggy Cherrio or smushed up baked bean until I lean over and she can place it in my mouth. Too cute to resist!
  • We tried juice for the first time the other day and she sucked it all down in record time. Then she looked at me like "mom, why have you been holding out on me?"
  • She absolutely LOVES music and we sing all the time. Her current favorites are The Wheels On The Bus, The Hokey Pokey and the ABC's. Despite my less than stellar singing abilities, she lights up when I start and claps her hands. Thanks for the encouragement, kiddo! 
  • She plays great by herself but loves to play with us. She's getting the hang of puzzles and loves to share her toys with us. She is also a huge fan of Kleenex and is fascinated with tearing it into tiny, tiny little pieces.
  • She's started waving bye-bye and blowing kisses. Oh my goodness. The cuteness is too much.
I'm so looking forward to celebrating her 1st birthday! We decided to keep it low key this year (no party) and I'm so glad. We'll just have family and cake and plan to make the 2nd birthday a big birthday bash. Can't wait!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer To-Do List (The Fun Kind)

I am notorious for starting something and never finishing.

I still have a cross stitch project that I started in 5th grade that is short of completion by 2 letters. Why? I ran out of thread and couldn’t find an exact match to the color.

I have an overflowing Tupperware box of half-finished knitting projects under my bed. I bought fabric to make blankets for kids in a local hospital and kept it for a year in my dining room before I finally donated it to a group that would actually make the blankets.  I have countless books lying around my house collecting dust with bookmarks permanently stuck at Chapter 3.

Honestly, I’m amazed that this blog is still going. At least it is for now….

But I say, whatever. That makes me, me! And I’m awesome! AND at least I started all those projects. So that counts for something, right?

I recently saw a hometown Facebook friend (and mommy blogger Southern Belle Mama) posted a list of all the things her kids wanted to do that summer as a family. It was full of super cute things like “feed the ducks” and “water gun fight”.  Naturally, I got to thinking about making a list for the Branhams. Since I’m guessing Emily isn’t quite old enough to enjoy a water gun fight, Randy and I thought about things that would be fun to do as a family around Columbia. Because I’m just don’t know how long we’ll be in “Famously Hot” South Carolina. We’ve talked about moving to Wilmington. It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been a decade (10 WHOLE YEARS) since I moved away. And with extended family there now, it just seems like a good move. I know things happen when they are supposed to happen and the way they are supposed to happen, so for now we will enjoy our time where we are.

Just like all the other projects and plans that have come before, I know we won’t get to some of these and the list will remain partially unfinished. But I also know that we will also have some fun times that aren’t on this list. Like on Saturday, when we decided to blow up a $5 Dollar General  baby pool and sip mango margaritas while Emily splashed around.  Did I mention we were in the front yard? And our new neighbors were in the process of moving in. Yep, we keep it classy over here.

So whether it’s a finished or unfinished list at the end of this summer, it’s sure to be one filled with great memories. Cheers!


Friday, June 7, 2013

Those Questions

If you are considering adopting, you must know that you will get asked many, many questions.  There were questions from our lawyer, from our social worker, from friends, from family and from total strangers. Most questions were easy to answer, others were more difficult. Most questions were harmless, others stung a bit. The adoption process can make you feel very vulnerable and those hurtful questions certainly don't help. My advise? Be prepared. I found that planning how to answer those questions (because they will come) kept me from being so caught off guard. And as tempted as I was at times to reply with a snarky answer, I was able to keep my cool and speak from the heart. Because I wanted (and still want) my life (our life) to be a testimony to others that adoption is AMAZING and AWESOME and YOU should adopt too! :)

Q. "What about her real mom?" You know what they mean. Her birth mom. The woman who carried her for 9 months, gave birth to her and chose you to be the woman to raise her. But the word "real" implies that you are some how a fake, an imposter. 
A. "I think Emily is so lucky to have two moms: her birth mom and me. We are both her real moms and each have a special bond with her."

Q. "You didn't want kids of your own?" Ouch. Especially for someone like me who has two amazing stepsons.  After helping to raise them over the last 6+ years..tell me they aren't my "own."
A. "We decided to grow our family through adoption. We could have chosen to try and have biological children, but felt that we were being called to adopt. I think that no matter how children come into our lives, through birth, adoption or marriage that they are ours to be loved and cared for."

Q. "What are you going to tell Emily about adoption?" 
A. "Um, what's it to you?" See! Those snippy answers start to sneak in!
A. "We think it's important for Emily to know about how she came to be a part of our family. We made her a book about our journey to her. We think it's important to answer her questions and ease her concerns in a way that's age appropriate. She doesn't need to know all the specifics when she's 5 but if she wants to know more about her birth parents when she's 15, Randy and I will both be there to share as much as we know with her."

Q. Which is sometimes followed by: "Wouldn't it be easier not to tell her?"
A. "Yes, and lie to my child? Sure!" Again, snarky answers are not the answer.
A. "I don't want Emily to grow up thinking that adoption is something that shouldn't be discussed or is something to be embarrassed of. By being honest with her from an early age, I hope that she will grow to understand that adoption is amazing and special. And that she is amazing and special and so incredibly loved by so many people."

Q. "Aren't you worried about (fill in the blank) her birth parents contacting you, not knowing medical history, what people will say, etc. etc. etc.?"
A. "Of course! But isn't that what moms do? We all worry about everything all the time. Whether our kids are 1, 5 or 35 we worry! So we do what every other parent has ever done. We learn as much as we can, we do our best to manage it and then at some point we let go and just enjoy life."

So, yeah. It stinks. You have to field crappy, intrusive questions but just know there will probably be some funny questions or comments that come your way. Like the strangers that will tell you as you are feeding a 6 week old baby in public that "you look great!" and they "can't believe you lost the baby weight so fast!" And there will be others that look at you and your husband and your baby and say "she looks so much like you (or him or both of you!" Just smile and say "thank you!" Sure, you could launch into a lengthy answer about adoption, but give yourself a break from always being on the spot. Just enjoy the moment and the blessing that is being a mom.


Monday, June 3, 2013

This Journey Called Motherhood

I originally wrote this with the intent of submitting it in an essay contest for a magazine. I found out about the contest a little too late and couldn't quite get to the required 1,000+ word count. After several days after the deadline and many more modifications, I finally have a version I'm happy with and that's really me. There will be plenty of other contests...:)

My journey to motherhood began with a phone call, immediately followed by a plane ride and 10+ hour car ride across 7 states.  As I look back over the 10 months since my daughter's adoption, I’m still in awe that I’ve made this wonderful journey. I still have the list of things I needed to buy before taking my daughter home from the hospital, including formula, diapers and a pack-and-play. I was utterly underprepared to begin this journey.

As underequipped as I was, I realized I would not be taking this journey alone.  I've found that there are three important groups of travel companions that I’ve met on along the way: those that have made the trip before me, those that travel alongside of me, and those I have left behind.

In the first few weeks of sleep deprivation and spit up soaked clothing, I found comfort in the words of wisdom from those who had lived to tell about it. I looked desperately to my mom, my mother-in-law, and friends with older children for advice. They taught me how to coax out those stubborn burps with a “hiney wiggle”. They encouraged me to call my pediatrician for the 3rd time in one day to find out why my 4 month old would not stop crying (answer? reflux). They gave me permission to hold my sleeping baby for hours while the dishes sat in the sink and the laundry piled up around me. They fed me (cupcakes that my husband caught me eating at 2am) and shared hand-me-down baby clothes. They never doubted me and always encouraged me. These amazing women gave me confidence. Empowering and uplifting confidence that reassured me that I was a good mom and I was doing the right thing. To those women, thank you. I am forever grateful.

Over the next few months, I found friendship among moms with babies close to the age of my little one. We compared the best baby food (sun dried tomato puffs) while in line at the grocery store. We commiserated about going back to work.  We swapped names of babysitters and comforted each other while we left our screaming, sobbing babies at day care. We laughed at our latest “mommy brain” moments. We went throughout our workday without realizing we had formula on our pants and stashed extra diapers beside business cards in our purses. And we were all fast asleep at 8:30pm every night. These awesome women gave me more than support and giggles, they gave me sanity. Much needed stability and reassurance that I was still a good mom and I was still doing the right thing. To those women, thank you. I am forever grateful.

As I encounter new friends along my motherhood journey, I often find myself thinking about those who have been left behind.  Some have been left behind intentionally and others involuntarily.  I have met those seemingly well-intentioned moms who enjoy sharing parenting styles that differ from mine. At first, the conversations are informative and engaging. But they quickly become a forum for judging and criticizing.  These women gave me more than unnecessary drama, they gave me freedom. Freedom to realize they are unworthy to continue this journey with me because I know I’m a good mom and I know I’m doing the right thing.

Separated at first by distance and then by our own complicated emotions, I had to leave behind my daughter’s birth mother. For reasons unknown, communication between us ceased. She gave my daughter life and I had to help my daughter live it without her.  We remain forever connected but we will not continue this journey together. This woman gave me more than a daughter, she gave me trust. I was a complete stranger and she trusted me because she felt that I would be a good mom and I would do the right thing. To this woman, thank you. I am forever grateful.

These women have made what my motherhood journey is today. They have given me a glimpse of what’s down the road. They have held my hand and walked with me. They have lightened my load and they will not know of my travels.  I have appreciated then, I have enjoyed them, and I have let them go. To these women, thank you. I am forever grateful.