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Sunday, September 30, 2018

An early surprise - Josie's birth story

Well it's been a while since I've last blogged. Funny how my last post was about the uncertainty of having another baby.  Obviously, I was open to having more after my fourth.  And now I can't really imagine life without her.  Here's her story:

We had just moved into our new house a week and a half prior.  I had two appointments on Tuesday, May 29th - chiropractor appointment (which I've never done during pregnancy before but found out my insurance would cover 6 visits) and my midwife appointment.  Both went well.  At the chiropractor, he did some pressure points for the first time.  I was still 9 days away from my estimated due date - which I have always gone past previously - so I wasn't too hopeful. The midwife appointment went well.  I was measuring much larger that week but that wasn't too abnormal for me either.

On the way home, I mentioned to Septtro that maybe we should go out that evening.  His brother was in town and it may be one of the last chances we got.  But we didn't end up going out - I figured we would have a few other nights to choose from.

Early Wednesday morning (around 2am) May 30th, I woke up feeling like I was leaking fluid.  I rushed to the bathroom, and, sure enough, my water had broken.  This happened with my second baby and labor got pretty intense very quickly so that's what I expected.  We called the midwife and she told us to try to rest and call if nothing had picked up after 12 hours.  I didn't think I'd be able to rest because of my previous experience with my water breaking.  Plus, I was sort of in shock as neither of us expected her to come this early. Septtro started packing both of our hospital bags.  We got some towels and water proof pads on the bed and laid down.  I sent my mom a text instead of calling since it was ok if she didn't come right away.  I also sent a few other friends a text knowing they may not see it right away but would later on.

A couple hours passed and nothing was really happening - except for me leaking more fluid.  After a while, Septtro and I both dozed off for a bit.  I sent my mom another update around 5am telling her to come whenever she was able to.  She arrived at the house a bit after 6am.

I was able to communicate to a couple friends to take my older girls.  My mom was planning to come to the birth this time so we had to find alternative child care for the others.  We split them up - Eliza (the two year old) went with one friend while the others could go with another.  I had invited my older two girls to come to the birth as well.  At first they both said no but then Kaylee said she wanted to be there. I figured when her friend's mom came to pick up her sisters, she would change her mind.  But to my surprise, she didn't.  

At one point, my mom took my girls back to her house and did their hair and changed her shirt since things weren't progressing very quickly.  My brother in law went out to run some errands.  I cannot remember where Septtro was.  But I was alone in my room just briefly. I began thinking about Eliza being gone and became a bit emotional.  I somehow just felt very alone and then I suppose mourned my youngest child's last few hours as the baby.  I wondered how she was doing - what she was doing - and nervous about what she would do when she realized what had happened while she was gone.

I noticed my contractions would pick up if I stood up and moved around.  Around 11am they were starting to pick up a bit. We called the midwife again and she said go to ahead and walk around.  I wasn't quite sure how to do that when my water was still leaking every now and then.  So Septtro grabbed his lavalava and I put on bathing suit bottoms and we headed outside.

We walked up and down our road.  I was walking very slowly as contractions began to really pick up at that point.  I asked my mom to get Kaylee some lunch as Septtro and I talked about whether or not to leave for the hospital.  I was afraid of waiting too long as my birth start to finish with my last baby was only four hours.  And I planned to use the tub again and have a water birth so I knew that would be helpful to deal with the pain. A bit after noon, we left for the hospital. (FYI - he's timing my contractions in the pictures, not playing on his phone) :)





When we got to the hospital, we went to triage and met the midwife.  My mom came in soon after as well as my good friend, Dana. Things were still fairly tolerable at that point.  

The midwife came in to test to be sure it was my water that had broken. I knew for sure it was - but I know they have to be sure as well.  She confirmed it and said I was about 3 cm - which I was prepared to hear since I knew with my other broken water labor, things seem more intense at times when they're not because that cushion of water is no longer there.  My last two labors, I was 8 cm by the time I was at the hospital so I began giving myself a pep talk about how long it would take before I could meet my new daughter.  :)  

I was told I wouldn't be taken to a tub room yet because I wasn't too far dilated.  I didn't think  too much of that.  So we got to the room and they wanted 20 minutes of monitoring the baby's heart rate and my contractions before they would let me get up and move around.  This wasn't new as I'd done it with my previous two labors (I was with the same provider for my previous two girls births).  

Septtro began writing a list of girl names on the whiteboard in the room as my labor, especially when I was laying down in the bed, still wasn't too difficult.  I had just told a friend the night before that we went to the hospital without a name for our second daughter and we thought of one an hour before we were discharged and I didn't want to do that again.  :)  I was having a fair amount of contractions at that point but could manage them fairly well.  

Soon, I realized I'd been in the bed a while.  I asked about when I could get up.  The nurse told me they just needed to see something specific from the baby and as soon as they did, I could get out of the bed to labor.  I'm not certain, but I think I was in that bed over an hour trying to get them their textbook readings.  They finally decided to let me stand right by the bed but when I did, they would lose the heart rate on the baby.  At one point, it read around 99 and the midwife kind of had a freak out moment. She called the attending physician, who didn't seem too concerned once she got there.  Likely, the monitor was picking up my heart rate and not the baby's.  Those round, hard, plastic monitors are certainly not meant for women with big, round bellies - much less women who get up and move around during labor.

I was asked to lie back down on the bed so the midwife could get a more continuous read on the heart rate.  Every time they picked it up, it was around 140 which is fine - but I could tell she was extremely focused on having it at all times.  I think because it read 99 at one point, she just couldn't get it out of her head that it could have been a decel with the baby.  **If I wasn't a vbac, continuous monitoring wouldn't have been required...even though I'd already had three previous successful abacus without issue but that's a whole other post...haha!**

At one point, I looked up and noticed I'd been hooked up to continuous IV fluids - something I'd specifically asked to avoid in my birth plan.  Apparently, they had done that without even telling me when they saw the heart rate at 99 (which, again, was probably mine and not the baby's).  I was not pleased and asked for the to disconnect me immediately but it took a little longer before they actually did.

They still hadn't gotten their 20 minutes of monitoring the way they desired.  They said they needed to see the baby's heart rate go up and back down twice in 20 minutes with a contraction.  My baby's had done it just once so that wasn't good enough. They let me labor a bit standing up with Septtro - he mentioned walking the halls but I preferred not to have that big of an audience so we stayed in the room.

I asked about getting in the tub.  I knew they wouldn't let you until you were in more active labor as it can slow down progress.  The midwife basically told me she could check me, but even if I was further along in labor, I would not be getting a tub because my baby didn't "pass" the 20 minute monitoring.  I was super annoyed to hear that.  And honestly, they had trouble getting that when I was in labor with Eliza, but I was allowed in the tub (different midwife - perhaps that was the difference). Those monitors were in and out with the baby's heart rate with my labor with Logann too but it was never made out to be a huge issue like it was for this labor.

I was told I could labor in the shower so I did.  The midwife was still very concerned about getting continuous heart tones on the baby.  I sat on the exercise ball in the hot shower and it felt really good and I was trying to work through my contractions!  Yet, there was the midwife hovering over me, pressing the monitor on my lower belly while my friend Dana ran over to let her know what the heart rate was...it was just ridiculous.  The midwife then told me she hadn't gotten heart tones for a few minutes so she needed me to go back to the bed and lie down again.  If I had been in my right mind, I would have told her no.  But no laboring woman is in their right mind.  :)  

So I made my way back to the bed.  I can remember the intensity picking up a lot and all I could do while lying on the bed to help relieve the pain was constantly move my legs.  Septtro was by my side the entire time, helping me stay in control of my breathing and not tensing up.  The midwife was also right there, once again, pressing the monitor against my belly.  I was able to get out "stop pushing" to her because it was so uncomfortable but all she heard was "pushing" so she started getting everything ready.  And as soon as I was able again, I said loudly "no, you! stop pushing!" She and the nurses sort of laughed a bit but it didn't really stop her.

My tone started to change with contractions.  It was beginning to be extremely difficult for me to feel like I could manage them.  I can remember saying, once again "I can't do this! I don't want to do this anymore!" and even before I said the words, I KNEW what that meant.  I was SO close.  But I said it anyway because it just felt like maybe I'd be the only woman on the planet to labor for eternity.  I remember the midwife saying that was a really good sign.  And I remember one of the nurses getting really close to me and telling me how great that was. 

Septtro picked up on my changed tone during contractions and they asked me if I felt like I needed to push.  I wasn't sure.  With my last two babies, I was never checked again after triage.  I just naturally started pushing.  I think this time, I just didn't feel as in control of how things were going so I wasn't paying as close attention to my body. Septtro insisted they check me and I didn't mind.  I was 10 cm. I think I asked again, just to be sure I heard them correctly.  I'm not sure I believed I was almost at the finish line. I naturally turned myself on my left side and pushed with the next contraction.  It felt way better (just as it did with my last labor I had with ruptured membranes)! The contractions were essentially right on top of one another now.  Every time I would feel anything, I would push.  I can remember Septtro reminding me to stay in control because I guess it may have seemed like I was just a big rush to get the baby out, but it was just my contractions were coming that quickly.  This time, I don't remember feeling that "ring of fire" as the baby begins to crown.  I think I pushed just a couple times and her head was almost out. Somebody soon said, "oh her hand is by her head!" - which would explain why I felt so many different movements down lower and had fears she was breech at one point. 

In no time, I heard someone say "Susan grab your baby. Grab your baby" and I reached down and pulled her the rest of the way out and up to my chest. I immediately began crying.  All of the pain was gone and she was in my arms.  I did it!  We did it!! I then asked for a hair bow as none of my other girls got that hospital hat with a built in hair bow.  Certainly, I deserved one with my fifth girl.  :) The nurses were really nice and got one for her very quickly.




I wasn't really in the mood for posed pictures and I think you can tell by some of them.  Haha! I hope Kaylee always remembers that day she was there for her sister's birth.  I think it's really special she was able to do that. And I'm so thankful to Septtro for agreeing to have my mom and my friend to be there too.  It's such an honor to be able to invite someone to witness the miracle of birth and I'm so glad they wanted to be there with us!




We talked about her name and cut it close again, shortly before being discharged.  But I think it suits her well: Josie Mailelagi Sene.  Welcome to our family baby girl.  You are SO loved!!!



Monday, March 28, 2016

In Case You Were Wondering

Before we had kids, and even after, people would ask me how many kids I wanted.  At first, I would always reply "Four.  I think four would be about my limit".  

And here I am.  I have four beautiful daughters.

  

But I don't really feel four is "my limit".  Although I really do think I understand more of what people mean when they say that.  It's not like I couldn't handle having more.  We do what we gotta do right?  :)  But each family has to decide what they believe is the wisest thing to do - financially, physically, emotionally.  And that looks differently for everybody.

I'm not trying to hint or divulge any  "planning" or "not planning" for future babies because, quite honestly, that's none of anybody's business.  I'm just trying to say that I've been 100 percent sure - nearly immediately - after having my first three girls that I wanted another baby.  But I'm still not there this time.  In fact, shortly after my fourth was born, I told my husband "I don't think I wanna do that again".  I remember him replying "Well you've never said that before".  I thought, at first, it may have been because her birth was so fast and furious.  But I find myself, throughout my days, having that same thought. I don't think I wanna do this again.

I've had moms encourage me by saying "This is just a season".  It's true. But there are times when I feel like I'm caught in scenes of Groundhog Day.  I just feel like I've been in the same season for seven years.  I've been sharing my body nonstop (pregnant and/or nursing) for seven years.  And in the grand scheme of things, I realize that's really not that long. But that's all I've ever known so far, as a mother.  

*Disclaimer: Please don't misunderstand me honestly navigating my feelings for complaining.  I absolutely understand how incredibly blessed I am to have my girls and would never trade them for anything.*  

But what would it be like to end one season and begin another?  I'm not sure - I haven't been there yet.  And I guess I've never really been curious about it until now.  It's like I'm peeking over the wall of newborns and preschoolers - wondering what that other side (season of life) is like.  I've just never cared to peek before.

It's not that I wouldn't welcome another baby.  But I also think I can truly say that I would also be perfectly content if we only had our four girls.  This is new territory for me.  I'm not saying "I'd like to be done" but I'm not saying "I'd like to have more" either.  

Ultimately, it's really not my decision.  I know this.  People make plans all the time, only to find the Lord decides differently.  I'm ok with whatever He decides.  But I really don't have a strong desire one way or the other this time.  And that's just new to me.  So I guess, as always, time will tell.  :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Christmas in July - Eliza's birth story (my third vbac and first water birth)

Eliza Meaalofa arrived on July 25, 2015 just before sunrise.  My dad told me he would be able to remember her birthday by remembering she was a "Christmas in July" baby.  I thought that was pretty clever - and I think it's pretty cool that her middle name also means "gift".  :)

I had been having fairly intense contractions for about a week or more before she was actually born - ones that would wake me up in the middle of the night but then fizzle out.  This was new territory for me as with my last two labors, when I woke up with contractions, it was the real deal.  The last two labors had also started around 5am and lasted about 8-9 hours.  I figured this one would be different and, perhaps, shorter due to all of the work my body was doing on and off prior to my due date.  This proved true as I was in labor for a very short four hours this time.  

I've heard some women say they wish their labors were as short as mine and while it was nice for it not to take as long to see her sweet face, I didn't really like how quickly it went by.  I know that probably sounds ridiculous to most and I don't really know how else to explain it other than I didn't really have time to process anything mentally before I was thrown into intense labor.  This labor was what I would describe as fast and furious.  

My estimated due date was July 22 - a Wednesday - and I pretty much figured I'd go past that as I always do.  But it's still not easy to see that day come and go.  The day after my due date (Thursday), my mom took all of my girls to her house to spend the night so Septtro and I could have some time with just each other before the baby.  We went to our favorite restaurants and picked out a lovie for Eliza and just enjoyed each other's company and conversation.  

That night, I had pretty intense contractions.  They weren't close enough together for me to start timing them but they were enough to force me out of bed to get more comfortable.  One of my dear friends was also expecting her fourth girl two days after me and it was pretty uncanny how similar our pre-labor patterns were.  We were texting each other Thursday evening and most times, her and I would respond "same here".  I joked our girls were conspiring together.  

I woke up Friday morning babyless once again but would have contractions hard enough for me to have to stop what I was doing, yet nothing that would be consistent.  I felt like every time I moved, I would have a contraction.  Septtro and I headed to breakfast at one of my favorite spots and later that evening, we picked up our girls from my parent's house and headed home. That evening, I got a text from my friend that she had been admitted to the hospital - it was her due date and I while I was genuinely excited for her, I wished so badly I could join her.  I told her I'd come up and visit the next day.

At 2am the next morning (Saturday, July 25th), I woke up again with intense contractions.  I went to use the restroom as I always do and checked Instagram and my email - seemed just like every other early morning contraction wake up call.  I tried to lay back down but wasn't able to get comfortable.  I started swaying back and forth, working through each contraction - praying and secretly hoping maybe today was the day.  

Exactly a week earlier, I'd had consistent contractions for about 45 minutes and then they stopped.  So I knew I wanted to time them to be sure I was in real labor.  I started my app and began timing.  Mine always start out really close together - about 2-5 minutes.  They were lasting about a minute or more but I still wasn't convinced.  I'd had so many times before that turned into nothing for the past week or so.  

Septtro ended up waking up on his own around 2:15am while I was working through contractions.  I informed him what was going on and he slowly got out of bed and started getting some things together.  I called my mom around 2:30am from his cell phone and remember her answering with "Is she in labor??"  :)  I told her it was me and I thought maybe she should come over.  I figured if it turned out to be a false alarm, she could go home and take a nap later. 

The contractions stayed pretty consistent over an hour's time.  I went to the girl's toy room (thus the dirty mirror) to take a picture just in case it was the last one of my pregnant belly.  
I just have to post this comparison of me in labor with my last (left) and then this time (right) - almost same outfit and seems my belly actually wasn't as big this time as last.  :)  But I also had an anterior placenta (placenta up front, baby in back) so that could have been why.  
My mom arrived around 3:30am and Septtro called the on-call midwife to let her know we were on our way.  Before we left the house, Septtro had gotten into the car and I was standing outside with my mom.  I had a pretty intense contraction again and had to lean on her for support.  Closing my eyes seemed to help me focus better and even before my mom got to the house, I preferred to be outside in the dark working through the contractions.  I guess the quiet and darkness was just calming to me.  As soon as my mom headed into our house, we headed to the hospital.  We live a good 30 minutes away and during the ride, I think I had maybe four contractions.  I kept thinking how embarrassed I'd be if this wasn't true labor.  

It's funny how each labor is so different because with my last, I could not stand to be sitting down.  Yet this time, it was the opposite - I felt incredible pressure when I wasn't sitting down!  Maybe that's why the car ride didn't seem all that bad. I can remember Septtro reminding me to stay in control during the contractions and helping me lower my tone and relax each time to work through them.  

We got to the hospital around 4:00am.  Septtro got me a wheelchair and we headed to the sixth floor.  When we got to the triage desk, I felt like everybody was moving extremely slowly. I'm sure they probably weren't but it felt like it to me.  As I was sitting in the wheelchair, I had a contraction and the nurse commented "Oh that was a big one".  There were actually two midwives there - one was trying to attend as many water births as possible as she was fairly new to the program.  She came to check me and I was preparing myself to hear 2-3 cm.  I was actually fine with knowing because I was planning to use the water to labor and birth in this time so I wanted to be able to go through transition with the help of the water (with my last labor, I labored as long as I could at home and was 8 cm when I got to the hospital).  My legs started to shake a bit, which did make me wonder if I was further along than I thought - the result of a surge of hormones especially during transition.  

She checked me and, to my surprise, said I was 8 cm - again??!  I mean I was glad but in a way actually a bit disappointed too because I didn't want get to the hospital that late this time.  I wanted to use the tub as long as possible to labor in.  But honestly, I don't know how we could have gotten there any sooner than we did!  I woke up at 2am, timed contractions for an hour, and we left my house as soon as my mom got there.  I guess the week or so prior my body had been progressing more than I figured.

I remember turning to Septtro and saying "well we get to meet her today!!".  They tried getting a read on her heart rate but it was very difficult because she was so low and I wanted to be in a certain position to work through the contractions.  After they realized how far along I was, I felt things started to move a bit quicker.  

They soon wheeled me to the labor room and had me get on the bed.  I knew they had to get a read on the baby for about 20 minutes before letting me in the water - another reason I'd hoped to get there earlier in labor.  They wanted to make sure when I had a contraction, her heart rate responded appropriately.  Her heart tones sounded great but apparently, she thought it'd be a great time to take a nap.  Her heart rate never dropped but it wasn't increasing whenever I had a contraction either.  That's my girl - the girl who had scared me multiple times during pregnancy by not moving when I would poke and prod her.  Turns out, even four weeks later, this baby loves her sleep!  Can I get a hallelujah??!

I was probably in the bed for close to 45 minutes so they could get the proper reads on her.  I can remember staring at the tub filled with water, wishing I could get in.  I would ask them every now and then how much longer I'd have to sit in the bed.  To make things a bit more interesting, the nurse totally butchered my IV (as a vbac, I'm required to have a port access just in case).  If I'm noticing that pain above my contractions, that's sort of a problem.  I heard her say "I can't do this" and another nurse easily put the port in on my other hand.  

Finally, I got the go ahead to get in the tub.  And Oh. My. Word! It felt amazing!  I'm not saying it completely took the pain away but it helped immensely with the intense pressure I was feeling and allowed me to relax even more.  I believe I got in the tub a little after 5am.  

I kept changing positions. I couldn't really find one that I felt was most comfortable. The midwives reminded me that in my birth plan, I'd expressed I wanted to basically deliver the baby with Septtro and they said they would be hands off unless I told them otherwise.  I was very thankful for how respectful they were of my wishes.  We had planned for Septtro to get in the tub with me, but there really wasn't enough room for him to be in there and for me to maneuver like I wanted.  I ended up settling in a position where I was on my knees and leaning over the tub towards Septtro.  He was so good about reminding me to control my response to the contractions. The midwives kept a very calm presence and at one point I remember one telling me how great I was handling the contractions and she never would have thought when I first came in that I was already dilated to 8 centimeters.  I can't tell you how big of a deal it is to hear words of encouragement when I'm in labor.  Mind and body are definitely very connected and it's important to me to feel as relaxed and at ease as possible to allow my body to follow suit.  

Not too long after I'd been in the tub, I started crying and telling Septtro I didn't want to do it anymore.  I couldn't do it anymore.  I knew, in the back of my mind, this is something I've said the past two times right before I was ready to push.  But in my state of mind at the moment, I didn't think I was anywhere close to seeing my baby's face.  It felt like forever away.  The midwife tried to encourage me saying "you're so very close" and of course, Septtro reassured me I WAS doing it and it wouldn't be long.  I believe I said that two him twice while crying.  And sure enough, shortly after, I felt a bit "pushy".  I told one of the midwives after a contraction and she said "yeah, uh huh, I can tell".  :)  

I love that for this labor and my last that they never checked me to see if I was fully dilated.  They just relied on my body to let them know.  I think this is the reason why I ended up pushing for so long (almost two hours) with my second (different provider).  They had checked me and I was fully dilated but she likely wasn't low enough for my pushing to be as effective.  

I admitted to everybody I was scared to push.  I was afraid maybe I was pushing only because I wanted it to be over.  I wanted to see her.  After all, I'd *just* let everybody know I didn't want to do it anymore.  I don't remember anybody responding to that fear (they may have) but I just started paying more attention to my body during the contractions and pushed a bit harder until I knew there was no need to be scared - it was time.  

When I push, I'm really loud.  And it's not really because it's extremely painful.  I think it's just because of all that pressure - it's intense. And I have to release all that energy somehow.  I can remember the midwives getting my attention at one point and telling me to not scream, just push.  Haha.  Looking back, that was because screaming isn't so productive but concentrating on pushing and, if needed, letting out lower tone noises is.  I tried more breathing techniques like panting, especially when I felt she was close to crowning so I didn't push too quickly and allowed my skin to stretch.  

As I was pushing for a short while, I felt my water break.  Same thing happened with my last - it wasn't until I was pushing that it broke.  I remember at one point reaching down to feel her head, thinking because of how much pressure I was feeling, it must be almost out but I could only feel maybe an orange-slice worth of her head.  I told her "cmon baby!" as if she could hear me.  :)  After a few more pushes, the head was either all the way out or close to it when I switched positions from kneeling to laying more on my back in the water.  Her shoulders birthed the quickest of all of mine and in an instant, I had her in my arms!  I'm not sure exactly how long I pushed for but it likely wasn't more than 15 minutes.  Her cord was wrapped around her shoulder so we slipped that off.  I immediately cried and held her tight.  Nobody else touched her or myself which I loved.  In the past, a nurse or doctor/midwife would start wiping them off and I just wanted a moment...and we got that.  She was COVERED in vernix - it was all over the midwife and my legs. My other babies either had none or very little when they were born.  I called it birthday frosting as I'd heard others say before and the midwife said she'd never heard it called that.  I started rubbing it into her skin as I'd read it helps moisturize and protect baby from germs.  

look at all that birthday frosting!! (mostly on her bottom and legs)

We sat in the tub and snuggled a while and then I started to make my way to the bed.  They don't want you to deliver the placenta in the tub because it'd be hard to tell if there's an issue with hemorrhaging.  I had consented to immediate pitocin via the port I was required to have so they wouldn't do any fundal massaging, which was extremely painful last time and a very bad experience.  Septtro got to do skin to skin briefly before the nurse took her to check her oxygen level.  She wasn't pinking up and I even commented on her color still being pale/blue.  They took her to the warmer and she got angry and cried and pinked up very nicely.  :)  

Eliza was born almost exactly 8 hours after my friend's fourth baby girl and they ended up just a few doors down at the hospital so we went to visit.  


I am so thankful to the Lord for a safe delivery for both of us and for our precious daughter!  We are so in love!!!
We don't lack for someone wanting to hold her!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Yes, I Want a Son

Ok so it's been a while.  Part of the reason is our laptop has been broken and I just can't type out blogs on my phone.  :)

Anyway, so I haven't said it here yet but I'm expecting our fourth baby in July.
 
Septtro came up with this clever word puzzle to announce the pregnancy
The Lord has taken me on quite a journey throughout this pregnancy (He tends to like to use my pregnancies to increase my trust and reliance on Him).  


I've always wanted a son.  Even when I babysat as a teenager, I preferred the games outside and ball throwing to Barbies and painting nails.  I'm not a very girly person myself and the initial thought of having my first girl was a bit scary.  But I've gotten quite accustomed to the girly world and quite like it now. 
my beautiful little ballerinas

And yet, my heart still longs to experience having a son, too - to become a part of that world as well.  That relationship of a mother and son everybody talks about just as highly as a father and daughter; it's just special.  You can't describe it.  And I just figured I'd get to experience both worlds by now.  

Even before my third girl, Logann, was born, people would ask if we are hoping for a boy.  I would tell them I didn't care.  But deep down, I did have a desire for a son.  I was afraid to tell anybody I did want a boy out of fear it would make me sound like I didn't value my girls as much.  That's absolutely not the case.  I feel if I had a house full of boys, I would want to experience what life would be like with a daughter as well.  This desire I had - for a son, to experience both gender worlds - it was a good desire, one I felt was from the Lord in fact, and so I did not realize it when I began to make it an idol of mine.

After Logann was born, people commented even more about us having a boy.

"Oh are you gonna try for a boy next time?" 
"Your poor husband" 
"Wow - just wait until they become teenagers!!"

I know they didn't mean for their comments to upset me, but because my heart had made having a son an idol of mine, I took even more offense to what they said.  Isn't that usually the case anyway though?  We take the most offense when there's an underlying heart issue of our own??

So when I found out we were expecting again - and even before then - I prayed almost daily that God would grant us a son.  But I also prayed that if He gave us another daughter, that He would prepare my heart to accept His plan.  Because I knew that He knew better than me.  And His plan is better than my plan.  

The day we went for our ultrasound, we actually didn't tell anybody where we were going.  I wanted my husband and I to find out together - just the two of us.  There would be no comments or pressure from others to react a certain way.  We decided not to find out during the sonogram, but had the technician write it down for us.  We took the envelope to a nearby grocery store and asked if they could fill two cupcakes with the appropriate colored icing.  

And the sweetest thing happened in my heart...I looked at the picture of my baby's face before we found out the gender - this sweet gift of life the Lord had given to us - and I fell in love.  Boy or girl, I didn't care.  I truly didn't.  Of course, the desire was still there, but God was starting to work in my heart.  

Septtro bit into the cupcake as we sat there in our van to reveal we are expecting our fourth girl.  I must say, I wasn't disappointed.  God had answered my prayer!  He had prepared my heart to receive this news!!
Just look at that sweet little baby! What a precious gift!!!!!
Afterwards, I sent a dear friend of mine a text to tell her the news.  She had four boys in a row and really desired to have a daughter - opposite situation of me.  She had understood my emotions and feelings before and I knew she would understand again.  Her words deeply encouraged my heart and expressed feelings I had that I couldn't express and ones I didn't feel most people would be able to relate to:
"God knows what he's doing, we can trust Him! But sadness is okay too. I remember those days leading up to my 4th son.  It wasn't him that I struggled with, but the way my life would look (yes! this explained my heart exactly).  I still would walk down the aisle of girl clothes and wonder if I'd ever experience the relationship with a daughter. But God is faithful to heal us and change our hearts towards gratitude in the rich blessings He pours out to us.  He is so good to even give us children. It's an honor and privilege that we fail to see often times.  He will change your heart, heal you or give you the desire you have in His time.  Our spiritual service of worship is daily presenting ourselves on His altar, regardless of our will or desires."
"Be very confident in what God has given you and see it as a calling.  That's what I had to do.  I started feeling honored that God saw me worthy of raising men. That was a huge deal! Think of the impact you'll have on these four beautiful women.  You'll teach them biblical womanhood and it is lacking majorly in the Body of Christ! Just think how God will use you in their lives and all the things we go through as mothers...you'll be there for them! Keep the eternal perspective. Pray for it because that's the only way we can put the value of what people say or do in its proper place." 
And now, I can honestly say that I would be absolutely fine if God saw fit to give us all girls.  And I'm over the moon excited to welcome another daughter into our family!!  Of course, the desire to have a son is still there.  But I believe it's no longer my idol.  Now, I'm just grateful He has entrusted me with these four precious lives. And when people make comments about our house full of girls, I'm happy to explain how incredibly grateful I am.

Yes, I am nervous about raising four girls.  Yes, I'm nervous about the tween/teenage years. Yes, I'm absolutely terrified I've already ruined opportunities to cultivate an open and honest relationship between my girls and myself.  But by His grace....

Oh, and the Lord did bless my friend with a daughter - her fifth.  :)  She mentioned how humbled she was because she was in a place of contentment before they knew the gender. Maybe one day I'll be in the same situation.  Maybe not.  Maybe one day I'll have a house full of grandsons. Maybe not.  But I do know I am so very thankful for each one of my girls!!!  They are all such precious gifts!!!  I hope they know that.  I hope they know and will always know how cherished they are!

Now, if we could only agree on a name....

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Birth Matters

At first I didn't want to post about this.  I was scared what others would think...

"what a baby"
"get over it already", 
"but you are blessed by so much"
"at least you had three healthy babies"

Ok so I sort of gave it away with that last one.  It's no secret I love everything about pregnancy and birth and beyond.  I'm fascinated with learning about how God created women's bodies to grow tiny humans and then birth them and nourish them and care for them (hearing every little noise even when in a dead sleep - especially right after having a baby - is a blessing and a curse am I right??)

Two major things about my previous pregnancies I'll never "get over"

1.  losing our first baby after seeing the heartbeat
2.  having a csection that was totally unnecessary 

I feel I've worked through the first one - our loss - more so than the second.  Part of the reason for this, in my opinion, is because of how I was made to feel afterwards.  After you lose a baby, people expect you to be upset.  But after you have a birth that deeply affected you emotionally, people expect you to be fine because the result is a healthy baby.  

Of course, a healthy baby is a blessing.  But just because that was the result, that doesn't negate how moms are made to feel during birth.  We need to be validated in our feelings - good and bad.  More moms need to be asked "how did your birth go?".  Even if it wasn't a bad experience, let's give more moms an opportunity to process the experience and be allowed to be honest in how she feels.  And please don't say things like "well it could have been worse" or "at least you have a healthy baby" because she likely hears that as "I shouldn't be sad about this".  Instead, tell her "so sorry you experienced that" and just listen.   

I know I wanted so badly to feel like my csection was actually necessary.  But truth be told, it wasn't.  Perhaps in that particular instance, because of all of the interventions that happened, it was the only way to get her out at that particular time.  But had all those interventions not happened (because they didn't need to happen for any medical reason), it wouldn't have been my only option.

My firstborn will be five in just a couple weeks.  I still carry the scar and a little sting of hurt.  But in the past year, I've been able to finally work through my sadness, anger, and frustration with what happened that day.  Seeing pictures of that day used to just bring a huge lump to my throat.  

Shortly after Rilynn was born - I was exhausted 
My almost five year old recently asked to hear about the day she was born.  At first, I was saddened to even have to relive it all again - like opening up an old wound.  But now, I realize that I likely wouldn't have had such a beautiful birth with Logann if I didn't have the experience I did with Rilynn.  Rilynn's birth opened up so many other opportunities!  Researching and learning about birth has led me to learning about other areas of life that I wouldn't have otherwise taken the time to even think about!

Shortly after Kaylee was born - my 10 pounder and first vbac
Shortly after Logann was born
Knowing that every woman and situation is different let me just boldly yet humbly say, I'm allowed to feel how I feel.  If somebody had an experience similar to mine (although no situation is completely the same) and didn't struggle, that's great.  I'm happy for them.  I really and truly am.  But that doesn't mean that I shouldn't or can't be upset about my experience. I never really felt like anybody validated my feelings afterwards.  But that's important - it was important for me and it's important for other women as well!  

So while it still hurts, I am now embracing that experience.  And I hope that I can/have positively affected others.  If you are reading this and you're a first time mom, don't be fearful of birth!  Birth can be so beautiful!!!  I know that now!  Learn all you can!!!!  There are documentaries and books on birth that can help (The Business of Being Born and Guide to Childbirth and Redeeming Childbirth are my favorites).

I know nothing will ever go just as planned - especially with something as unpredictable as birth.  But it can still be a positive experience.  A healthy baby is absolutely important.  But so is a happy and healthy momma!  

They are so awesome!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Baby Monitor Alternative

I've never had a video baby monitor although I've always thought it would be nice to have. I just couldnt bring myself to spent that much on what I didn't think was a necessity for us.  But then again, we would have gotten our money's worth by now.  :)

I'd heard of others using webcams and security cameras in lieu of a video monitor for their children's rooms so I decided to try it out after we moved Logann into her sisters' room.  The one we got (Foscam wireless IP camera - FI8910W) has night vision, two-way audio, pan and tilt (no zoom) and comes with a mount for the wall.  

What I like:

- the price...at just over $60 it's a lot cheaper than a traditional baby monitor

- the option to download apps and view from your smart phone or tablet 

- being able to take snapshots of what I see.  this comes in handy when showing certain children how I know they were doing something they weren't supposed to be doing.  It's also fun to see how my girls play with and comfort each other.  :)

oops somebody is out of bed!
they were playing doggie or something :)
 - the ability to use it as an actual security camera if desired...pretty sure it has a motion detection option

What I don't like:

- it's pretty difficult to set up.  we still can't figure out how to get the two-way audio to work which would be nice for telling Kaylee to get back on her bed instead of having to walk to their room.  :)  Even my techie neighbor never figured out how to do port forwarding so it could be viewed from other computers (which I don't really care about now but it'd be nice when we are on vacation to have it placed somewhere to view the main area of the house)

- yes it can be hacked.  There was a really creepy story about a couple who heard a strange guy talking to their baby and controlling the camera from wherever he lived.  Ewww.  But, there is a generic password with the camera some people don't change or make very hard to guess and then there's your home wireless password that should also be fairly strong. So I'm really not all that concerned since both of our passwords are strong ones.  

All in all, I'm glad we have it.  It's come in handy to see if Logann is awake or asleep before I go in the room when I'm not ready to get her out of bed yet.  And with all three sharing a room now, it's just nice to have a set of eyes in there.  

all three asleep - no glowing night vision eyes means eyes are closed!



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I'm Back on Facebook - sorta

A little over two years ago, I deleted my Facebook account.  Honestly, I didn't really miss it.  At all!  For me, it was actually quite freeing to do so.  It was just too easy for me to get wrapped up in all the drama, negativity, and ego stroking. 

But now I've made an account again.  And a few people have found me already.  But please don't be offended when I deny your friend request.  :)  My only limits (thus far at least) for getting back on Facebook is that I'm not friending individual people - only group pages and businesses and organizations.  This allows me to still find deals, stay informed with local mom groups and church, and read articles I know will be a positive influence in my life. I just don't have the self control to not click on things I know will upset me or reply to things that I shouldn't.  So this is my way of protecting myself.  :)

I'm still on Instagram so feel free to find me there!!!

And now I leave you with a picture from a recent photo shoot with my good friend Kelli (she does awesome work so keep her in mind for family, baby, and especially wedding pictures!).

This lil firecracker is about to turn a year old - August 10th!!  I can't believe it!!!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Revolutionary Laundry Secrets

I remember before having my first baby, people would tell me how much my laundry would increase.  Honestly, I didn't think it did that much after my first.  Little did I know, she's pretty much the least messy kid on the planet.  So that helped.  Then came my second - messy city!  But I could control it a little better when she was a baby and toddler.  Then after having my third, plus a messy middle, and another older one who is tidy but also clumsy...well, let's just say I began to understand this whole never-ending laundry issue.  

A friend of mine came over and gave some great pointers which have helped A LOT.  They're so simple but I would have never thought of it on my own!

As soon as clothes are washed and dried, they go in a basket.  And eventually (working on a better system for getting this done sooner since my baskets of clothes tend to sit on the couch longer than I'd like), it gets sorted into piles.  

Both of my older girls can help do this.  They can find their own clothes and make a pile for their stuff.  I've made everything accessible for them to put away clothes except shirts and dresses which I hang for them.  After they're done with that, they can usually sort through mine and Septtro's clothes.  Although I have taken offense before when they thought his shirt was mine.  :)

I also read a blog post not long after my third was born that helped me see laundry differently.  Seriously, take a look.  

This is Logann's drawer for onesies and leg warmers.  I know it looks like organized chaos...well, I guess it sorta is.  But it's out of sight (once the drawer is closed).  :)

I use these bins for bottoms for my girls (skirts, shorts, leggings, and some pants). They can easily put things away themselves and find something to put on when I need them dressed.

Lots of drawers!!!!!!!  I suggest the non-see through kind for this sort of laundry method.  :)  The see-through ones you see used to be behind a cute little curtain.  You could also put a pictures on the outside of the drawers if needed to help younger ones know which drawer holds which items.  My almost three year old has often confused her drawers.  

There is still a lot of laundry but it doesn't take me as long to get through it now.  I've basically stopped folding anything and everything I possibly can.  Washcloths, underwear, shorts, pants, leggings, etc just get put in a drawer...or basket.  
girls underwear is accessible and NOT folded  :)
I've heard of people using those shoe organizers for laundry items.  I'm sure there are all kinds of things you can use to make the process quicker and overall less stressful.  I've had to let go of control a little bit and let go of all the "rules" I thought I had to follow.  But it's been SO very freeing!!!!  I challenge you to see how many items you can stop folding.  ;)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pondering

Recently, I came across this quote and loved it.  I can easily lose sight of what - or who - truly matters sometimes.   


I went to my grandmother's nursing home recently and truly thought about this quote.  It's so true.  The residents care most about visitors.  The women don't care about how clean their houses were, how organized they were, how many homemade meals they were able to make, or how much they weighed.  The men don't care about how important their jobs seemed, how many tools they had in their shed, how much they could bench press, or how well they could dominate on the football field, basketball court, etc etc.

They care about people.  

So I'm trying to remind myself of this when I become obsessive over things that really don't matter and build the best relationships I possibly can.  


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sometimes I get angry- then I feel guilty

I love being a mom.  I really do.  I've always wanted children and am thankful to have three beautiful girls!  But lately, I've been dealing with a lot of guilt.  Many times, I don't feel I have any clue what I'm doing.  I hear the Lord urging me, in the midst of a tense situation, to not get angry with my kids.  Don't raise your voice.  Don't say that.  No, no, no - don't do it!

And I do.  I do it anyway.  

Enter the blanket of guilt.  Why did I do that again???  I'm ruining my children.  They will grow up to resent me and their childhood.  I'm a terrible mother!  Why did God even entrust me with these precious souls?  I can't get it right!

In His goodness, He has shown me that I'm striving.  I'm trying to "be a good mom" and not resting in grace and love.
"Freedom from the stain of sin.  Rest from our strivings to be worthy in ourselves. Love that never changes. Mercy for all our failures. Grace that saves eternally.  These are things that Christ lived, died, and rose again in order to give us - precisely because we can't get them any other way.  We can't achieve them and we can't earn them. No matter how strong or how good we are.  No matter how hard we try.  They are gifts and everyone knows a gift is to be received, not earned." - Christ in the Chaos by Kimm Crandall
If you ask my husband, he will tell you that one major area I've been working on is my tone of voice - with him as well as towards my girls.  I know it's not honoring to the Lord when I speak harshly towards my husband or my children.  I want to change.  And I have been striving to do so in my own power.  
"But our works are simply a means of living out the standing God has granted us, by grace, through Christ's sacrifice. The worlds flow from the grace, they don't produce the grace." - Christ in the Chaos 
I'll never get it right.  And He already has.  And even when I do choose the right response, it's not me!  It's Him!  

So the key is, for me, to not beat myself up when I get angry and respond incorrectly over and over.  The key is to continue to show my family that I am weak and He is strong; to ask for their forgiveness and point them to the Savior.  And those times when I do get it "right", I cannot bask in my own glory of success - but praise the One who gave me the power to overcome my sin!

The Lord gave me Proverbs 15 after dwelling on my guilt.  That chapter speaks a lot on how you use your words.  I picked out a verse and the girls and I made collages with magazines to serve as a visual for everyone how our words and even tones can affect others.  

"Hot tempers cause arguments but patience brings peace" - Proverbs 15:18

I hope to improve on these areas more and more.  I know I'll never be perfect.  And now I'm at the place where I'm okay with that.  :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Favorite Make-Ahead Lunches and Snacks

Recently, I have been making the girls' lunches the night before.  It saves time and sanity once lunch time rolls around.  I hand them their "special container" and done and done!

That definitely frees me up a bit but then I'd get hungry and not leave time for me to grab something halfway decent to eat.  Some days I'd end up eating lunch around 2pm after the older two were napping.  Not exactly ideal.  

So for the past couple weeks, I've been preparing food for myself ahead of time too...as much as possible.  It's been working out really well!  

One thing I'm having to still get out of my head is that lunch doesn't have to always include a sandwich.

I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.  

1.  Egg salad...can be put on a sandwich or just with some lettuce or spinach or greens of your choice.  Things I put in my egg salad: mayo, mustard, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and a splash of pickle juice.
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2.  Strawberry and Egg Salad.  This has become a new favorite of mine. It was born out of leftovers I wanted to use, a Google search, and some adaptations.  Hard boiled eggs, strawberries, and greens with a homemade vinaigrette dressing.  Dressing is equal parts apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, and olive oil.  

3.  Faux Cookie Dough (kid approved).  This came from FamilyFun Magazine.  It's a good alternative snack with a protein punch!  
In a food processor, blend 1 1/2 cups of chickpeas, 6 Tblsp brown sugar, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 3 Tblsp oats, 1 Tblsp milk, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/8 tsp salt and baking soda.  Fold in 1/3 cup of chocolate chips - great on apple slices or other fresh fruit.  

4.  Zucchini Spaghetti (kid approved) Just shred zucchini ahead of time and put in an air-tight bowl.  At lunch add sauce and cheeses and anything else you may have in the fridge that may taste good with it - shredded chicken or red beans perhaps?  My kids also gobbled this up for dinner one night. I just told them it was spaghetti.  


 5.  Whole Wheat Corn Muffins by The Happy Housewife (kid approved).  Don't let the whole wheat throw you off.  These are sweet and oh so delicious!  A friend of mine brought these with a meal after Logann was born and I asked for the recipe and have made them several times since!  


6. Black Bean Salad.  This was a combination of leftovers and trying to reproduce something I'd had at a friend's house.  This particular one is black beans, corn, avocado, and feta cheese with lemon juice (can do lime too) and sea salt.  


7.  Baked Brie.  So I must admit, this is the best when it's fresh out of the oven but the leftovers are still a very close second.  I used a pie crust instead of a puff pastry.  I still can't get the cheese to not leak out but I just all that gooey goodness on top.  Red grapes and apples are my favorites to eat with this.  Your favorite cracker would also be good.  

Please share any favorites you have.  I'd love to add them to my rotation!!!