For Grins

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It always seems like an impossible feat to capture those first precious smiles of a new babe. But I always try. As any parent knows, first smiles (that are on purpose) are magical. They bring proof that you are known and quite possibly liked by this little person. They often mirror a little glimpse of heaven and always melt your heart. Their rarity (even with the knowledge there will be many more to come,) still makes them coveted. Those first smiles are a gift. A reward for sleepless nights, hours of nursing and endless diaper changes. For that moment, time will stand still and all will be right with the world.

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A Little Something Sewn

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I have been itching. Itching I tell you! Suffering with an overwhelming desire to knit, or sew, or write, just to do something creative. It is fine to nurse and hold baby and enjoy three other children. But sometimes a mama just needs to let her creative juices flow. Alas, there is a baby to nurse and three other children to enjoy….

But the other day, I got a little window. It was small but I decided I better take advantage of it. The three older children were at a sleep over with their Manna and Papa (by the way, thank you Manna and Papa.) It was just me and the little one. And since she naps a lot, I had a few minutes of free time to address something else that has been bugging me.

Our couch is nothing special, a well used hand-me-down (of which we are so grateful.) Still, we would like to preserve it as best we can. This little couch is also the hub of much activity. It is where the kids like best to sit, read stories, hold the baby and watch movies. It is also the primary diaper changing station during the day. Though we are pretty good at diaper changes, newborns can be slightly unpredictable during them and I have been wishing for a little changing pad for this area.

So….

I dug in my fabric and found this flowered piece of PUL and some lovely pink fleece. I purchased these fabrics with such a project in mind a few months ago. I just never seemed to have the time to get around to it… even before baby. Little ones keep you going you know.

Anyway, it felt so wonderful to dust off the sewing machine and stitch something. Even something so simple as a changing pad. Turns out this was the perfect project to satisfy my creative itches for the moment.
In the end I have a nice washable layer to protect our little couch during those unpredictable diaper changes. And you get to see our little Clara nearly a month old already, growing like crazy and still such a sweet mellow babe.

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Lying In

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The beauty of a winter baby is that I have felt free to embrace a season of “Lying In.” A tradition practiced by many cultures, though I don’t think fully embraced as often by our own.
Traditionally the period of lying in will vary by culture, but most often it spans the time of somewhere between two weeks and two months. I have always believed it is so important to give oneself grace after having a baby. For taking time to rest and recover. Birth though beautiful and transformative is still taxing on the mind and body. The best medicine for this is time and rest.
There is an old saying that for the lying in period one should spend one week in the bed, one week on the bed and one week around the bed. Thus allowing your body ample time to heal.  I have chosen to claim the span of a month. It just felt right this time around. With my other children I remember claiming more time and sometimes a little less.

Experience has taught us that if I can kick back for the first few weeks after birth, I both recover faster, AND am more mentally stable. The latter being almost more important than the former.

Now at 3 weeks postpartum I feel mostly human, mostly sane and even hopeful about what this new year and new babe have to offer our family. I am slowing easing back into things, beginning to  recover the house and attempting to tame the massive pile of laundry. Dinners are becoming slightly more regular and I feel o.k. even if I don’t get an afternoon nap. We will soon begin to ease into home school again, though we may put more emphasis on child led learning. Relaxing and letting our core subjects continue to take a rest if need be.

Of course Lying In when you have a pack of other children looks different than if you are enjoying those first days with the first new babe. But, I still believe it can be done and should be done.

Our early days of coming home with this fourth little one were quiet ones. We all enjoyed relaxing and cuddling and bonding with our new family member. Yes, we have had a lot of pajama days. Yes, the kids watched a lot of movies. And yes, there was box cereal and frozen pizza on the menu amongst the cooked dinners and meals provided graciously by friends and family.
I have had no qualms about trying to sleep when baby sleeps, or at least puting my feet up. And it often seemed as though baby and I were heading to bed as soon as the sun went down. And yes it was a little rocky for Dad who had to tackle the bedtime routine on his own for a few days.

I also have chosen to not do much cleaning and only cook when I wanted to. However, I enjoy cooking for my family, so that is one thing I did not want to let go of often. I have let go of my hostess hat but still welcomed company with open arm. I’m sure they can comprehend the transition we are in. I also have refused to leave the house unless necessary. I admit that this aspect of Lying In has been more challenging. From both the stance that sometimes I wanted to get out and sometimes it meant being willing to say no to activities I would normally enjoy. But, in doing so I feel I have managed to keep a lot of unnecessary stress at bay.

Kyle of course is the one who has had to pick up most of my slack. Something he has done with such willingness. He has been such a tremendous support and I am so thankful for him. It has put me even more at ease to know that he understands the importance of me Lying in. He truly wanted me resting. Even reminding me of its importance when on a good day I was temped to dive into doing all that I usually have done. He is super that way.

Even now with my most intensive days of rest behind me, I want to offer myself the grace to take our time and to ease into our new family rhythm. Accepting that it will never be what it once was. This frees me to enjoy the process of discovering what our new rhythm will be.

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This Moment

Joining Soulemama in This moment:

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

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Clara Noel ~ A birth story

Disclaimer: This is a birth story. Which means it included details of, well, birth. So, consider this your warning. If you are squeamish or simply do not wish to know this much about me or our family please feel free to skip this post. :)

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Saturday.

“Hmmm, these contractions are really getting anoying.” I thought as I spooned rice and veggies onto plates for dinner. But, I was determined not to let them get to me. I had been having these bothersome braxton hicks contractions for weeks. They varied in intensity and sometimes teased that they could be regular, but never quite got there. I was sure that I had a few more days to go. But, still they kept coming. As I washed dishes after dinner I caught myself gently swaying and breathing through a contraction. This one was worse than the others. Still I refused to look at the clock. Why syke myself up. It was nothing. Even if it was something, I was not going to get excited about it. Based on my history, I could have these semi-regular contractions for days. Latent labor they called it. This would be my fourth baby and thus far this phase of labor seemed to get longer each time. I dreamed of ignoring these contractions and diving right into active labor. I hoped that if I didn’t time them, if I didn’t pay attention they would just flow over me and fade until the “real thing” started.

No. These were real. Too real. Ouch! Real.

Putting the kids to bed they came. Through the stories. I would pause take a few deep breaths and press on. The evening left me restless, but I knew I needed sleep. If this was Latent labor I should not waste my energy. They would just keep working, no need to get excited. Did I mention this could go on for days! I tossed and turned and coughed. I ended up on the recliner because there I could keep my head elevated and the coughing spasms from this miserable cold would ease. Here I let myself watch the clock. Every 10 minutes or so. Now every 7. Now a 20 minute break. Darn it. I had hoped.

I drifted into sleep. I woke with an ache around my middle. I had the vague feeling that it had been coming and going for some time. These contractions were bigger than the ones of the previous evening. They rose like the swell of a wave, peaked, and flowed away behind me. I rode those waves for quite a while. Every 10 minutes. They peaked in intensity at around 4am and slowly drifted away as the sun rose. With the kids stirring they took a break. Only washing over me every 20 or 30 minutes. But by evening after the kids went to bed they picked up in intensity and in frequency again.

About 2am Sunday I was getting tired of them. They were strong, and still not close enough together. But they were strong. Days. That was all I could think about. This could go on for days. I did not want to do this for days.

“Eve, what were you thinking.” I muttered. I was thinking of the first mother. The one who made a decision that would change child bearing for all womankind.

16 To the woman [Eve] he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
 with painful labor you will give birth to children.
~Genesis 3:16

It reminded me of a blog post I had read recently. A birth story. I loved this woman’s approach to labor. Taking the time to remember why Jesus had come to earth in the first place. Taking time to mark each contraction and remember his suffering for our sake. Yes, this would be my new thought, “Remember, Jesus suffered for my sake. He suffered for all of us.”

I let many verses roll through my heart and mind with each contraction. I remembered the suffering. But then I also remembered. The beauty of Christ’s redemption. God did not just come to curse and leave us. He came to redeem. He came that we may have life.

10  …I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
~John 10:10

I could let the pain of these contractions, the remembrance of suffering overtake me. Or I could let the redemption overtake me. Life. In pain God would bring forth life!

In the darkest hours of the morning I craved company. I woke Kyle. The contractions were strong. I thought surely today would be the day. But, Kyle’s company only relaxed me further. The pains lengthened out and I knew as the sun rose that this would not be a Sunday baby. I sent my ever patient but exhausted husband back to bed.

All day the contractions came. I became edgy and had a hard time with the kids. Kyle helped a lot. I tried to sleep. I tried to relax. Nothing was working. These blasted contractions just wouldn’t give up nor would they get any closer together. My perspective was waning. Still there was this slight change when I got up from my nap. Maybe, just maybe my water was leaking? It was so slight, but frequent enough to make me think, but also confusing enough to make me doubt. After all, I had this cough for long enough that my 40 week pregnant body was… ahem, not holding things in properly. So, I had reason to be confused. But again there was a little sign to make me think maybe, just maybe.

I told Kyle he might as well plan on going to work Monday. I would be in this state forever I was sure.

As evening progressed. I became more annoyed. The contractions were definitely getting stronger and longer in length but no closer together. It was enough to make one want to scream. Around 2am Monday I decided to see if I could get things going by walking a bit. I paced the house. Sure enough the contractions would pick up. Every 5-6 minutes. But, as soon as I took a rest they would space back out. I decided a bath was in order. The warm water felt wonderful, but only slowed things further. Around, 5am Kyle got up to go to work. I asked him not to leave. I was feeling antsy. I decided that I would call my midwife office and see if they could check me in the morning. I needed to know if I was making any progress or if I was just being a big baby about things. As the sun came up, my contractions quickened. I was sure something must be happening. We called my mom and asked her to come over and stay with the kids. My midwife had the day off but the OB at the practice could see me at 10:30. I weighed whether or not to take the appointment. But another contraction confirmed I really wanted to know what, if anything was happening.

On the way to the Doctor’s office my contractions were still far apart but they were keeping a consistent pace. “This is a good sign.” I thought. They also made riding in the vehicle miserable. Also a good sign.

At the doctor, they checked me. I prayed that I would be farther along than 3cm. But feared that I wasn’t.
The news: Sure enough my water was leaking and I was 5-6cm dilated.

Yay! To the hospital! I was relieved. Off we went.

The Fanale

I settled in for my prerequisite 20 minutes of fetal monitoring.
Funny, as soon as we got to the hospital my contractions picked up to every 3-5 minutes apart. They got a lot stronger too. Sitting in bed for monitoring was impossible. I found it easier to sit on the edge of the bed or stand and sway while leaning on Kyle through the contractions. 20 minutes of monitoring turned into 30, then an hour. I begged for the tub. But the baby’s heart rate was not meeting their 15bpm accelerations to let me off the monitor. I drank water, I drank juice, I ate a Popsicle. Hoping to wake her up a bit. But, with each contraction her heart rate was either steady or even would dip a bit. They wern’t worried, but they wern’t going to let me off the monitor either. I tried not to worry. I didn’t have much opportunity to worry. Those pesky contractions just kept coming and coming.

All I wanted was the tub.

The Midwife was sympathetic but clear that they just could not let me off the monitors. Not just yet. I asked them to turn off the sound. While I loved hearing the thub-thub of the babies heart beat. All the other bells and whistles were too distracting and just enough to make me worry a bit. Silence was a good thing.

I labored on for hours and hours and hours. At least it felt that way. In actuality it was only  about two and a half hours. But when you are in the midst of it, it feels like an eternity.

I was sure I was making progress. I was getting tired and had that kind of nauseated feeling that I get toward the end. I asked them to check me. I needed to know.

The news: Still only 6cm. Drat! That did it. I begged for the tub. Monitors and all.

I knew if I could just get in that tub everything would go much more quickly. I could not bear the thought of doing this for much longer.

They hooked me up to the wireless monitor and into the water I sank.

Ooooh, the warmth of that water was heaven. Every muscle in my body relaxed.

I felt the next contraction begin to rise and then… POP!
Ouch! I felt the most excruciating painful pop. It wasn’t like a water breaking pop. It was like my cervix leaping out of the way pop. I had gone from 6cm to 10cm in an instant. Immediately following she came roaring down my tail bone. I hollered for Kyle to call the nurse. She was coming, NOW! Both Kyle and the Nurse were so calm. They clearly were not grasping the situation.
I yelled, “She is coming NOW!”

The nurse sweetly recomended that I get out of the tub. Oh how I would have liked to oblige her. But this baby was crowning and moving is not so easy at this point.
The contraction ebbed and I made the monumental heave to my feet but was unable to move from there. Kyle and the nurse basically drug me from the tub. They told me not to push, just breath.
“Ha! They had to be joking.” I thought. “Don’t they know I’m not in charge of this!”

Out of the tub they drug me towards the bed. I begged to just be allowed to squat, she was right there. It would be so easy.
A flood of nurses came flying into the room. They rolled me back onto the bed. Out her head came. I heard calls to push. Again I thought, “Surly these people are crazy. I don’t get to decide this stuff!” Thankfully another contraction seized me and out she sailed into the nurses arms. A moment later the midwife arrived.  She laughed at the chaos and asked to to invited next time.

All of this occurred within a few short minutes. She was here. Clara Noel. I didn’t know what her name would be until that moment. They got me adjusted into a more comfortable position and I could take my first peeks at her. She was beautiful. She was big and bright and purple and screaming.

It didn’t take long for her to find my breast and latch. She sucked veraciously. There was a lot of laughter and talk about her hurried entrance into the world and her near water birth.
All were surprised that I didn’t tear or even bleed.

The midwife looked at me and said, “Gee, you didn’t even need to be here, you could have done this all by yourself.” I agreed that was probably true. But, still I was glad to be there. Glad for that giant tub. Glad for the flood of helping hands. Though I do wish they would have just let me squat.

So, that is the birth story of little Clara Noel. Hard to believe she is a week old as I write this. Thus far she is a sweet mellow babe. She has a great appetite and still enjoys a party at 3am. But we are all doing well. Her family is in love. She need not worry that she will be left behind. There seems to be a never ending line of laps and arms waiting to cuddle her.

I think she is a lucky little girl.

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P.S. If you liked this birth story you might also like these stories:

The birth of Alex Moses

The birth story of Miss Adelina Marie.

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Memories

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I don’t know which was my favorite part? Wait yes I do! It had to be the after dinner dancing and singing that daddy did with the kids on Christmas Eve. … Or maybe it was the nightly ritual we developed as we celebrated the Advent for the whole month. No. Christmas morning was so special as we slowly rose (thanks to my late sleeping bunch) and gently began unpacking stockings and opening gifts. The equally grateful hugs and expressions of joy over gifts of socks and new toys were so sweet. Or perhaps it was breakfast together that morning. Or even the quiet hours as Kyle and the kids packed up for an afternoon at Manna and Papa’s for more celebrating. Leaving me to cough in peace and take a long uninterrupted soak in the tub.

To be sure, this Christmas was a lot less harried and hectic than usual. Even with being sick it was still a wonderful holiday. One I will cherish and hope to remember.

P.S.
As many of you know my due date fell on Christmas day, but alas no Christmas baby. However, I don’t think she is going to wait too much longer, we’ll just have to wait and see. :)

 

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Merry Christmas!

2014 Christmas Card

From our Home to yours we wish you a very Merry Christmas
and Many Blessings for the New Year!

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