Dear Bonus Sons: I Love You!

Dear boys,
I didn’t give birth to you. I didn’t get to feed you a bottle, or spend countless hours trying to rock you back to sleep at all hours of the night.I wasn’t there to see you take your first steps, and I didn’t get to see your face a sugary mess as you dove into your first birthday cake.I missed out on most of the first milestones of your young life, only getting to live them through pictures that I found on your dad’s computer.

When I first started dating your dad, people would give me unsolicited advice about how hard it was dating a man who already had kids.

They were right. In the beginning it was very hard.They told me that I would never be your mother. And I didn’t want to be.You already had a mother. An amazing mother, that I never would want to try to replace.

But over the years, my love for you grew like dandelions.You became my babies.And although I didn’t get to experience some of your firsts, there are plenty of things I have been able to do.

I was there for your first T-ball game and cheered you on as you got your first run.I was there for late nights with the flu, and the long days that followed.I was there for your first day of school, as you anxiously stood in line ready to show off your new found independence.

And I have been there for plenty of birthday cake.

Time flew by at the blink of an eye, and here we are nine years later.You are playing with your baby brother and sister. The babies I did give birth to. I know things are changing as we enter this new season of our lives. But I want you to know something.

Just because I didn’t have you in my belly for nine months, it doesn’t mean I love you any less.You taught me about motherhood and showed me what it feels like to love unconditionally.

You are my babies just as much as your little siblings are and I love you more than anything.You may be my stepsons, but I will always love you like you are my own.

And I look forward to a lot more birthday cake.


Your bonus mom

You Are Still A Good Mother

You heard your infant whining over the monitor at six am this morning. She was ready for the day, but you ignored her so you could get the five extra minutes of the sleep you so desperately needed.

You are still a good mother.

You fed your toddler a piece of white, non-organic toast with off brand peanut butter for breakfast this morning because it was fast, easy and required no dishes to clean up. You don’t have the energy to scramble cage free organic eggs and cut up fresh fruit into little shapes like you have pinned on your latest Pinterest board.

You are still a good mother.

Your infant is crying, and you make her a bottle from water and powdered formula. When she was born you decided not to breastfeed.

You are still a good mother.

After breakfast you brought your toddler into the living room and let him watch tv, instead of doing sensory activities with him, or playing outside.

You are still a good mother.

It is a beautiful day out, and he asks to go to the park. You don’t feel like getting everyone ready, yourself included, so you tell him “maybe tomorrow”.

You are still a good mother.

When lunch rolled around, you popped a premade toddler meal that contains preservatives into the microwave and let him eat it.

You are still a good mother.

After lunch you try to put both kids down for a nap You are exhausted, so you decide to try to take a nap too, even though last night’s dishes are still in your kitchen sink waiting to be washed.

You are still a good mother.

Neither kid will sleep, and your toddler says he isn’t tired, although his attitude says different. You take them for a ride in the car so they will hopefully fall asleep. The money you spent on a sleep training course was a waste, because even though every mom in your Facebook mom group swore by it, your babies refuse to nap.

You are still a good mother.

You come home and let the tv babysit them again while you wash those dishes.

You are still a good mother.

Before dinner your toddler asks for a cookie for what feels like the millionth time. You finally break and give him two cookies to stop him from a tantrum, even though it means he will probably eat less of his dinner.

You are still a good mother.

You skip bath night even though both babies have food in their hair.

You are still a good mother.

You tuck your toddler in, forgetting to brush his teeth, and read him his nightly story.

You are still a good mother.

And of course, this isn’t what you do every single day.

You play with your kids and teach them. You take them to the park, feed them well balanced meals and give them baths.

But in a world filled with picture after picture on newsfeeds of other moms depicting the perfect lives; trips to the park, Pinterest perfect snacks and all- it is hard to not feel like a less adequate mom than them.

Remember this…

No matter how hard your day may have been and whether you feed your kids organic meals daily or whatever is on sale at the local market- if you bring them up knowing they are taken care of and loved…

Then you are still a good mother.

5 Things I’d Tell My 20-Year-Old Self

I’ve been finding myself reflecting on the past decade often. While I firmly believe that your 20s are a time in your life where you learn and grow, there are some things that I would go back and change if I could.

If I could write advice for myself at 20, here are 5 things I would make sure I knew.

The people that you love will not be around forever.

Visit them as often as you can. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, and neither are the people that you love. It is easy to assume that there will always be next week, next year, next Christmas. But that is not the case. It is easier to make time to visit someone you love now, rather than regretting missing that visit with them after they are gone.

It is okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them.

You’re going to make a lot of them. Some of them are bigger mistakes than others. Some will affect other people rather than just yourself. Seek forgiveness from those you hurt, as well as yourself. Use your mistakes as a lesson to become a better person. Learn, and move on. Just make sure not to make that same mistake again.

Relationships take work.

A whole lot of work. Many arguments can be avoided when two people work harder to communicate and listen effectively. Try not to jump to conclusions, and keep your temper at bay. Don’t be afraid to love, but protect your heart at the same time.

It is never too late to try something new.

From trying out new hobbies, to switching careers, it is never to late to redefine yourself. Just because you have a degree or experience in one thing, doesn’t mean that you can’t learn something new. Change is a part of life. You’re either getting better, or getting worse. Nothing stays the same

Not everyone is your friend.

Sometimes that even means someone who you think is close to you. Be careful who you share personal stories with. Sometimes a “friend” can be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. A true friend supports you, stands behind you, and wants to see you succeed. Sometimes friendships come to an end. Learn from them, cherish the good, and use your experiences to grow.

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A Note From Your Tired Mama

I was exhausted, and it was only 9am. I eagerly awaited 9:30, so I could put you and your brother down for your morning naps. I checked my email on my phone, as I tried to slowly rock you in my other arm, but your wide eyed, baby blues kept staring up at me. “The Wiggles” was on tv, and I sang along to “Rock A Bye Your Bear” for the billionth time in my head, as your brother did the dance moves like he was born knowing them.

Oh good, “the bear is now asleep”. Time to turn off the tv, and get the two of you in bed. I didn’t care if it was 15 minutes earlier than usual, this mama needed a nap too. I put your brother right in his crib, but you of course were fussy and wouldn’t sleep on your own. It doesn’t help that you are a total mamas girl and need to be by me all. of. the. time. It’s okay though, I’d snuggle you in my bed and then put you next to me in the bassinet once you were soundly asleep.

Have I mentioned how tired I am? I was up most of the night before while you slept, trying not to worry about every day life. You know, the messy kitchen with a sink full of last nights dishes. The living room that needed to be vacuumed, and the bills piling up on the kitchen table that your dad and I need to budget together. Money has become tight since we went down to just one income so I could be a stay at home mom.

I put on the Baby Mozart station on Spotify (my go to), and hoped that you would fall asleep quickly. I checked the baby monitor and saw your brother jumping in his crib. I told him to lay down over the intercom and prayed he would soon stop.

It was 9:30, but felt like noon. It had been a long morning filled with tears ( not just yours and your brothers, I cried too). It is hard raising a 6 month old and a 18 month old at the same time. When one of you cries, the other one joins in in perfect harmony. And your brother is at the age where everything is his, so sorry about that rattle you thought you’d get to play with today.

This motherhood thing is so much harder than I thought that it would be. Other moms on Instagram make it look so easy. They’re always out having fun. Their toddlers are perfectly behaved at the park, and they are carrying their infants in their expensive babywear, while rocking cute shorts in their perfect postpartum bodies. I know it’s their highlights, and I often wonder what their lives look like behind a perfect camera angle and bright filter, because honestly ours is often a hot mess. It’s still hard not to compare though.

Oh good, your brother finally laid down, and your eyes were getting heavy. I thought to myself that I should just go do the dishes. I had just remembered there were 4 loads of laundry that needed to be done too. I mentally made note of the other 10 things I needed to finish as I waited to make sure you were fully asleep before trying to pick you up and put you in your bassinet.

You were out. But I couldn’t pick you up. Not because I was afraid of you waking up as I made the transfer, but because as bad as I wanted to go to sleep myself, I suddenly just wanted to watch you sleep.

You looked so peaceful, snuggled up to me, with your face pointed toward mine. I laid there and forgot about how tired I was because I just wanted to soak in that moment. A year earlier I had moments like this with your brother, and now they were few and far between. You wanted nothing more than your mama, and I could tell you felt complete comfort wrapped in my arm.

It is cliché, but I was reminded that the days sometimes drag on, but the years fly by. As I sat there watching you sleep, I wondered what your life was going to be like; who you were going to be, what you were going to do. You’ve already grown so much in these 6 short months.

And then I thought about my mom 30 years ago, exhausted just  hoping that I would just take a nap so she could get some rest. I thought about how she probably held me in her arms and watched me sleep, wondering who I would grow up to be. I pictured her holding my little hands not knowing it would be the last time she would hold me like a baby because poof, life went by and before she knew it I was a toddler… a teenager… an adult… a mother.

So I will soak up these moments because I know they are not always going to be like this. Before we know it, you may be here too… a tired mother watching her baby sleep.



Paige Martinek is a SAHM to her two stepsons, two sons and daughter. She enjoys road trips, long drives along the lake, writing, reading and talking about anything pregnancy related. She is an infertility awareness advocate. You can read more about her here!

Finding My Lost Faith During Infertility

There is a John Lennon quote that says “Everything will be okay in the end. If it is not okay, it is not the end.” If you would have asked me a year ago if I believed in that, I would have said “no”.

My husband and I struggled to conceive for a while. The struggle made me bitter and depressed. I couldn’t watch TV (too many babies, commercials, etc.) or walk by the diaper aisle at the store without feeling a pit in my stomach. And Facebook- it was my worst nightmare. It felt as if every other day someone would announce their pregnancy or the birth of their child. I even had to “unfollow” some people because I couldn’t take it.

Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for them- I was just very sad for us.

I just couldn’t understand why I couldn’t become a biological mom. Was God punishing me? Was He mad at me for something? I told one of my friends how I felt, and she reminded me that God is a loving God, and doesn’t do that. I tried to remind myself of that, but it was hard. Maybe He wasn’t mad at me, but I’ll tell you what- I was mad at Him.

I constantly felt like people were giving me un-needed, but well-intended advice. “Just relax and it will happen”. “I have a friend who blah blah blah…” “It is all part of God’s plan.” etc. The last one really got to me. Why would His plan include not letting me do something that I was born to do?

One day I was talking to my former pastor. I’ve been open about our struggle, and she asked me how things were going. She talked about her struggles with trying to get pregnant, and miscarriage, and she said something profound. She said something along the lines of ” And then one day, I told God that I was ready to let His will be the way. This was in His hands, even if it meant that I would never have children of my own.”

She never told me that is what I needed to do. She just told me it was what she did. I wished I could do that, but didn’t think it’d be possible.

Time passed. So did month after month of negative pregnancy tests, two failed IUI’s, doctor’s visits, and countless tears. Life felt hard. All I wanted to do was sleep. I dreaded family parties, because I constantly looked around the room and reminded myself that I was the only one there who didn’t have biological kids. Even my husband was a dad.

Last fall, my husband and I were checking out a new church. I can’t tell you what the message was about, but I can tell you a specific verse spoke to me.

Whenever I found myself upset, I reminded myself of that verse. Then, a couple of weeks later, we went to a service at the church I grew up in. We had a guest speaker, and I couldn’t believe it, during his sermon- he read my verse! “Jesus replied, “You may not understand what I am doing right now, but someday you will.” John 13:7.”

Something just clicked. Those were the words that I needed to hear. Those were the words that helped me lay it all out on Him, trust in Him, and let His will be the way. I still planned on trying to conceive, and researching other fertility treatments, but I no longer felt hopeless. I felt a huge relief upon me.

Of course, I was still sad when I would get a negative test, but I no longer let the sadness take me over. I reminded myself of Jesus’ words. I had found my lost faith, and trusted that He had my back.

A month later, I received a letter in the mail from my insurance. My work changed their fertility benefits, and they now covered two rounds of IVF! We started our first cycle at the end of April 2017, and now have our 7 week old son laying next to me at this moment.

Getting to be Jack’s mommy is worth all of the pain and suffering infertility brought. I now know the reason He did what He did, and our little miracle baby will always be a constant reminder of God’s plan for us.