This is My Story. Part 1.

My first social media post quoted Big Daddy Weave’s song, My Story.  

“Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him.”

This line sings loudly on repeat in my head and has been stamped on my heart the last few months. This one line is what I’ve been celebrating, clinging to, and sharing every day. If you were to tell me four months ago that I would be in this current season of life, that I would be here in this moment, I just wouldn’t have believed you. I wouldn’t have laughed, but I probably would have made an ugly face and dismissed you. I never would have believed that God had written this story for me. I wasn’t even sure if He was hearing me, if I was of any significance to Him. But to tell you my story is to tell of Him, our compassionate, faithful, powerful Father. He heard me and He saw me.

In these first few blog posts, I’d love to tell you my story of how I got to this point – pending children’s book author and wannabe blogger. I say “wannabe” because I don’t know where this blog is going. I’ve re-written this thing six times. I can’t believe you clicked to read it (thank you!!!!), and I’m having high-school-speech-class-level anxiety right now thinking about someone reading this. Lord help us all.

If you’ve followed my personal page, you know that I’ve been rhyming my way through the past two years as Nina Rose grows before my eyes.  I’ve had many people ask how I come up with these poems, how long it takes me to write them, and a favorite question, “where did you copy and paste that from?” Would they ask that last question if I wore a beret? I think not, which is why I asked for a beret for Christmas. Thanks, Mom! 

 “Give the people what they want!” I thought this morning, while frantically prying an ice pack out of Nina’s mouth and removing Stewart (dog, not human) from her surprisingly dangerous headlock. Yes, in the middle of that standard scene, I was genuinely thinking of you.  So the first post of the series is going to answer these burning questions! The first part of explaining My Story.

Nina’s pretty perfect (not a biased opinion, by the way), but I will be the first to admit, the girl does not sleep. Since she’s been born, she just has not required solid nights of sleep, naps over an hour, cat naps, etc. I had been trying to convince myself, “it’s a stage, it will get better!” but since we are on year two of constant lack of sleep, I think we have more than a stage here, people. This is real life.

 One of our first many sleepless nights home with Nina. Look at those eyes. So alert. So not going to sleep. 

One of our first many sleepless nights home with Nina. Look at those eyes. So alert. So not going to sleep. 

 "Hi! It's me, Nina! Not sleeping in my crib again! Tee-hee!"

"Hi! It's me, Nina! Not sleeping in my crib again! Tee-hee!"

I see kids in videos falling asleep in high chairs while they are eating (absolutely unspeakable to Nina. Mealtime is life), falling asleep in jumperoos while jumping (so they just skip leg day?), falling asleep while watching movies (don’t they want to see how it ends?), etc. etc. Meanwhile, our little Nina Rose could not and still does not sleep for more than four consecutive hours. Nap times rarely exceed an hour-twenty. And it took us 23 months to reach that accomplishment. It’s fine though, really. Keep posting sleeping kids!

 Nina will sleep if the above conditions are met.. She loves a good robe. 

Nina will sleep if the above conditions are met.. She loves a good robe. 

 Wh0 am I kidding? We both love a good robe!

Wh0 am I kidding? We both love a good robe!

Colby and I are now very well-adjusted to the lack of sleep. However, at first, it was excruciating. Miserable. Breaking.  Many of you know this, but if you don’t sleep, you get kind of weird. You go a little crazy. You either speak way too quickly and frantically, or you can’t even process your thoughts and turn them into words. You either sit in a still, silent haze or somehow find the energy to re-organize your kitchen drawers and color-code pot holders. Anxiety runs rapid and emotions are so much more intense. There’s a lot of crying, praying for strength and grace, and even feelings of hopelessness. Yes, all of this happened to me (hopefully that explains a lot), but something else happened – I wrote.

Holding Nina in my arms and rocking her for hours on end, I had a lot of time to think about all of the powerful feelings motherhood brings on: unconditional love, fears, insecurities, my dreams for her, the future… Overwhelmed with these emotions, I used the pumping and feeding journal sitting on her nightstand (aaaaand I just lost all my male readers) and I wrote. I guess sleep deprived Ashley speaks in rhyme, because a lot of what I wrote came out in stanzas and rhyming.

 I wrote one of my favorite poems this night. She melted my heart in those little donut jammies. And the face touch?? Shattered me. 

I wrote one of my favorite poems this night. She melted my heart in those little donut jammies. And the face touch?? Shattered me. 

I have always loved to write and have written a few poems in the past, but I believe God aligned the perfect storm of motherhood, sleep deprivation and consuming emotions to put the words on my heart. Never have the words gushed to me the way that they have in the past two years. As always, His timing was undeniably perfect. If there is any point in my life that I’d want to be writing, it is right now, in this season. Would I want to write about anything other than my daughter and being her mother? No way. (Side note: this made me think about writing poems about college. What if that was the season God had put words on my heart? HA! “Tonight we are going to The Wheel. They have a good two-for-one deal!”) God opened a door to an old passion I had forgotten about. He gave me strength to endure the lack of sleep with this outlet.

 An exciting (and super cute) success after many failed attempts earlier in the day. Nothing like a 5:00 snooze to throw your evening off. 

An exciting (and super cute) success after many failed attempts earlier in the day. Nothing like a 5:00 snooze to throw your evening off. 

 Anything. We will do anything!

Anything. We will do anything!

 "Haha, Mom! Little do you know, I don't sleep because I drink Americanos all day!" 

"Haha, Mom! Little do you know, I don't sleep because I drink Americanos all day!" 

God also knew that in this season of struggle and weakness, something remarkable was coming. He had a way bigger plan than I ever imagined. “Ashley is going to write a children’s book and a collection of poems about Nina and motherhood with this sleep-deprived and questionable mind,” is something only the grace of God could come up with. Isn’t that so awesome? Here I thought I was just writing little chicken-scratch notes and poems to get through the night. He chose the perfect time to give me the words, and in the most perfect way.

And finally, to address the last question, "Where did you copy and paste that from?" Girls who wear berets do not do well in prison, so there is no plagiarizing. This is my story.

Angela Berry