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8.03.2015

Why I've Stopped Reading Parenting Articles

God has certainly been laying this on my heart for several months now...

...to slow down, stay home, be content. 



It is so hard in this culture, to be content. 
There are people everywhere you look with incredible talents, great looks, and wonderful careers! There is always something or someone to be jealous of! 

I have fought so hard this calling to slow down, stay home and be content. I've been in "survival mode" you see and I haven't "had the energy" to STAY HOME or SLOW DOWN. Makes total sense, doesn't it! Sarcasm there. 

We have recently had many car troubles with our eldest car (made in '91) and it has given me more opportunities to stay at home and be content. It's been in the shop for a few days and today we finally sold it for parts. It wasn't worth fixing up.

Now that we only have one car, I am forced to be obedient to what God has been calling me to. Slow down. Stay home. Be content. 

I was terrified of what would happen. What if we go insane? What if my house looks ten times worse than it already does? What if Hannah can't seem to ever play by herself? What about all our playgroups? What will happen when I have to run errands? What if...

It's only been a week and I can confidently say that 
GOD KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING.
That's right. GOD knows what HE is doing! He has a plan! 

In my time "stuck at home", things have automatically gotten slower. I've had to be content, otherwise I'm going to make myself sick about what my life is NOT. Anyways...there IS a point to all this and it DOES relate to Parenting Articles! Haha!

God has placed in each one of us, all that we need to live the life that He has called us to (1 Peter 2:3). But here's the kicker!!! We have to SLOW DOWN long enough to listen to what He's telling us to do. We have to SLOW DOWN long enough to listen to our children. Often we lead such busy lives that we don't realize what our children really need or even what our children are capable of! 

Since staying home, my relationship with Hannah has grown sooo much! We understand each other far more than we ever have. It's because I've taken the time, that I can listen to her two year old mumbo jumbo and totally understand what she wants and needs! Even her deepest desires and needs! I'm starting to see them! 

She asked me at least five times this afternoon if she could watch Clifford. I told her no each time. For all you mama's in survival mode...guess what happened! She had MORE FUN playing around the house than she would have watching tv. 

Did you know that tv lowers your discernment? Huh! It makes sense to me!

Mama...Daddy...you know what's best for your little ones! Everyone in the world has an opinion about everything in the world, but only YOU know what's best for your family. My Hannah is different than every other person on the planet. My Charlotte is different than every other person on the planet. My husband is different than every other person on the planet. So am I. So are you. My relationship with my husband is different than every other marriage in the world. Your relationship with your spouse is different than every other marriage in the world. 

So with all these differences in the world, what makes us think that we can pick up a book, google weird questions, or read all the parenting articles in the world and find our "answer"??? We won't. 

So I've stopped reading all the Parenting Articles that come my way. You know the ones! "How I Potty-Trained My One Year Old in Less Than a Week!" "How to Teach Your Children About ____" "Making Your Strong Willed Child Listen" I know them all! TRUST ME! I'm a big "researcher"!

Now that my day-to-day is slowing down, I'm realizing that I had nothing to fear! God blessed me with the ability to understand my daughters. He blessed me with the opportunity to know them more. When I understand and know them, then I can better teach and encourage them as young women for Christ! What an awakening! 

I don't need any of those parenting articles, magazines, and blog posts! Though some are definitely encouraging and informative, God planted within me everything I need to know concerning MY DAUGHTERS. I just need to slow down, stay home, be content...and listen.

Be encouraged, you know what's best for your little ones!

7.07.2015

So, How IS life with a Toddler and a Newborn?

So, how IS life with a toddler and a newborn?

It's crazy, I tell you, crazy!!! 

Haha! Okay, maybe not craaazy...just...crazy.



We're going to talk about this in a more organized manner, because it's the only way I've been able to simplify my thoughts on the matter. I'm still feeling the chaos, that I'm sure will still be there five to eighteen years from now, but anyways...



Do I think it's gone well so far? Why?

Yes, I definitely think it's gone very well! I no longer have the hypersensitive preggo brain. I don't get irritated as easily since I'm not pregnant anymore. I was so emotionally driven and easily frustrated during this past pregnancy, but what woman isn't? It helps that we have finally slowed down now. The last month was busy busy busy! We were in survival mode! The first weeks were full of unending attention and plenty to do (for Hannah). We are finally settling into a routine, which we all know is very important for kids. I'm a calmer and happier mom now that the pregnancy is over with. It's sad to admit, but it's true. I was pretty hormonal those last couple of months especially. My poor family.



How is Hannah behaving with the new baby?


She's obsessed! She loves her to pieces! Of course I have to keep my eyes on them when they are together, but Hannah does best when I give her and Charlie really good quality time. I put them on the same level---on the bed together or on the floor together, and Hannah is so sweet and gentle.
Charlie is six weeks old tomorrow and I can comfortably say that I can leave them alone for a few minutes without worrying! It's awesome and so freeing!

Adding this little bit in three months after writing this: Hannah has gotten a little more aggressive with Charlie, but it's not all the time and it's not awful. I have to be more careful whenever Hannah is upset because she might try to take it out on Charlie (which I've heard is common). Other than that, Hannah is still doing well with her little sister! 


 

Was I scared?

Oh, heck yes! I like to think that I'm an honest mama, so let's be real here. My child is nuts and can be kind of aggressive at times. I kept thinking that this transition was going to be a nightmare. Can you imagine a loud, aggressive toddler with a brand new little baby! Ack! I was bracing myself for the worst but to my surprise, she's been doing pretty well! I can actually set Charlie down for a minute and not worry the entire time!



How was the first week? The first month?

The first week was weird because people always had Hannah. I felt like I had given her up for adoption. It was just weird. When she was finally home with us for a solid 24 hours, she just seemed so big! No one ever told us that your toddler grows twice their size when you have a baby! Ack! It made me realize how quickly these years go by! 

Once we got home from the hospital,  I think I was in a "what do I do now" kind of daze. I felt ready to get back to my normal routine the same day I gave birth to Charlie! I was ready to go home and clean up the messes I knew were still there. I wanted to get outside and exercise. I wanted to get out with friends, but this was supposed to be a time of rest, so I never did any of that. Except maybe clean.

Chris stayed home from work for a long time. God knew that we both needed that time to communicate, laugh, and be purposeful again. See, pregnancy can sometimes throw you and your partner into a "funk". By "funk" I mean, a tiny little rut that seems to throw you in circles, over and over again to the point you get confused as to which way is up. We were definitely in a "funk" by the end of the pregnancy. But thankfully, we're out of it now and fully focused on this new journey with two little princesses! 

It's really been a lot better than I thought it would be, especially once we were getting back to a little bit of a routine.






What did I expect and what did I NOT expect?

I expected Hannah to be very aggressive with Charlie, dangerously so. I thought I'd have to have my eyes on Charlie at all times and that I'd only get work done if I wore her. Instead, Hannah is pretty trustworthy with Charlie. At least more than I thought she'd be. When it comes to getting things done around the house, Charlie plays really well by herself and I can actually set her down for thirty minutes at a time and get work done! 

I thought it was going to be a nightmare and extremely difficult. Everyone and their mothers kept telling me how hard this phase in life would be. Maybe I haven't gotten to the hard part yet? Hm.{Note: three weeks later and it got harder. Oh yea!}
{Note #2: three months later and it got WAY harder. Yep!}


I expected to be sleep deprived for months, but instead, Charlie has been a really good sleeper.

I expected our routine to be completely destroyed and that I'd have to start from scratch, but it hasn't been like that. As soon as Chris went back to work, we pretty much just picked up where we left off.





What have I struggled with?

I was selfishly enjoying not having to nurse so much or wear breastfeeding appropriate clothing. I already get annoyed sometimes with having to slow down and nurse.

Lately the struggle is stirring up the energy and motivation to slow down. Yes, you need energy to slow down, because if you don't you'll fall asleep. 

I thought that ONE kid changed my plans, TWO changes even more! I struggle with wanting to schedule things MY way instead of going by what my girls (clearly) need! I used to go by only Hannah's needs, and now I have to plan according to both a two year old and a newborn. It's a challenge some days.

One big struggle for me is finding time to effectively wind down. It's difficult when you're kids wake up too early and sometimes don't nap and they both don't nap at the same time.



How is having a second child different than the first?

I worry less. Now, a lot of moms will tell you that they worry less with the second, but they may not give you all the details. At least, that happens to me when I'm seeking out advice and encouragement. "What do you mean, worry less?!" I want to give you the details in case you are in the same boat as me or if you are about to have your second little blessing. 

Having a second little baby was not as big of a deal to me. When Hannah was a baby, I wanted to hold her and stare at her all day and all night. It was almost instinct to never put her down. The second time around, I still stare at my baby when she's in my arms or by my side, but I don't pick her up as often and I don't run to her every time she cries. I am grateful that I can put this little newborn down for a few minutes and not have to worry. 

When Hannah was little, if she cried I tried to fix it...every...time. I still do this with Charlie, but not as quickly. I often give her a minute to soothe herself. 

I waited the full four weeks before taking Hannah anywhere. I honestly have no idea how I did that without going crazy. Charlie has already been everywhere more than twice and she's only six weeks old! I'm pretty sure she was at church before two weeks old and out shopping with me before that. 





What is the most difficult thing about this phase?

Getting a routine down and making sure both girls get enough rest. When it seems like we've got a rhythm, something comes up and screws up our routine. If our routine is messed up, then their sleep is messed up. If their sleep is messed up, then we're all just straight grumpy! It's just all a vicious cycle.






What is the best thing about this phase of life?

When you have more than one kid, you automatically start cherishing the one-on-one moments with each one. Now that I have a little baby to take care of, those sweet and sometimes funny moments with Hannah are even more sweet and even more funny. I see how quickly time goes by and how quickly my little girl is growing up. I cherish the moments that I can look at her little eyelashes and gaze at her precious smile! 





It may be a challenging season of life, but everything just seems so much more precious and beautiful right now and I love it! 

God is good!!!
 




Are you in the same season of life right now? What's your favorite and least favorite parts about being a mom of a toddler and a baby?

7.04.2015

Currently

Here's where I've been...

PRIORITIES!!!

My priorities are becoming more and more about family and God.  Which is definitely where they should be. Therefore, I haven't worked so hard to get blog posts up for you guys! (Although I have plenty of drafts that will make their way to the blog hopefully soon!) But for now, I'm here to update you all on what's been happening in this life of mine! :) 



Listening to: klove radio station is where it's at! We've been trying to turn the tv on less. Survival mode during pregnancy really made that a habit.


Reading: Bible. A whole lot of Bible. God has continually told me to wake up and spend time with Him before I spend time with others, and so I've been trying my best to get up every morning. This means 5:30 am for me! I love mornings. I love watching the sunrise and how peaceful it can be.


Thinking About: I have been thinking a lot about marriage and parenting. Chris and I know so many people right now who are struggling in their marriages because of affairs and porn and bitterness and it has really become a passion of mine (ours) to start praying for marriages more, as well as really working on our own. 

As for parenting, Hannah has officially hit the terrible twos and oh my word, she is a handful! I've heard people talk about how children behave differently towards their moms and yea...they are right. Hannah can be the sweetest little angel for everyone and then I come around and seem to draw out a little booger head. She likes to scream at me all day long, pinch me, punch me, growl at me, pull my hair, bite me, lick me, push me, pull me over, and grab my legs. Chris and I finally found a disciplining technique that was working for us and for Hannah. Things were going so much better with our little amazon princess warrior, and then it was like a switch went off sometime last week and she all of the sudden stopped listening to us. 

God has been telling me to slow down and stay home more often than not and I am finally doing better at that. My husband's car broke down this week and I had to go two whole days without a car. TWO WHOLE DAYS. I almost died. ...bahahaha... I'm joking. Anyways, my two car-less days were very humbling and yet they were exactly what we needed. I think sometimes we as sahm's are constantly trying to find ways to stay busy and keep our little ones entertained, but that's not really our job. Our job is to slow down enough to love, teach and listen. We have a harder time doing that whenever we're constantly on the road, trying to find stuff to do and people to hang out with.

There's a lot on my mind but I can't seem to write all down. We'll just sum up my thoughts to: parenting, marriage, and God. 




  
Thankful for: I am so incredibly thankful for my husband. He's just the best there is! He is selfless, patient and ridiculously gentle. He has had so much patience for me, dealing with all my craziness of pregnancy, postpartum hormones and new mom of two hormonal craziness. Women are just straight crazy!! Haha...I joke...kind of. 

I am thankful for God's presence. I am thankful for His peace and guidance. I am so happy that my thoughts aren't as clogged as they were a few months ago. I am so happy that I can hear Him clearly once again. I am so so thankful for His grace. Without it, I wouldn't be in this beautiful place I am today.


Where you can find me this week: At home!!! I am trying my hardest to slow down and just BE at home with my little ones. It's very easy to leave home and try to find other stuff to do, but I'm learning that my girls and I need to slow down and take it easy. We're over doing it. So with that said, you can find us at home! :)



So what have YOU been up to these past few weeks? 
It's been FOREVER!


4.23.2015

Currently Postpartum

Hey guys! Long time no see...or hear...or read. :) This momma has been super busy being a momma to two little girls!!!

Every now and then I share a post just about what's going on in my life, what I'm listening to, reading, thinking about, wishing for, thankful for, what I am photographing and how pregnancy is going. It's what's currently going on in my life and that's about it! 

Listening to: Let's just say that Sam Smith has an amazing voice, and thanks to my husband, I can now listen to him everywhere I go!

 

Reading: Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I really want to get up early and dive into the Word every morning, but a newborn and a two year old make it difficult. Hopefully it will get a little easier!

Thinking About: Oh goodness...I am SO ready to be back on a routine! Everyone keeps telling me that we probably won't have a routine yet, but so far my little girls are perfectly in sync with their naps and bedtime! I'm praying it doesn't change, at least too much! I'm in planning mode. I'm ready to whip out my planner again and fill it up with to-dos, projects, errands, play dates, photo sessions...etc. I'm ready to get up and get going! I'm so tired of being a couch potato who can't do anything. Let's conquer the world!!! ...after I get some sleep. :)

Thankful for: I am so grateful to God for all the moms he's sent my way! I have so many mom friends right now that are in the exact same boat I'm in! One of my good friends had her second baby the week after I did, and our older children are only three months apart in age! Another good friend of mine is due in just a couple of months, and her oldest is about six months younger than Hannah. I'm so thankful that I have so many women by my side as I go through, what I've been told, is going to be one of the hardest years ever! Woohoo. 

I'm thankful for the sweet and special lovin' I've been getting from my two-year-old, Hannah. She wants my attention so badly that her cuddles have been, seriously, at their best!

I am super thankful that pregnancy is over! I'm so happy to feel normal again! Pregnancy with a toddler was rough! It's no joke!

Where you can find me this week: Well, I know my baby isn't even four weeks old yet but I am so tired of being couped up! I am at home A LOT but I have definitely been getting out! I've been going to my mom's Bible study, to church and to play groups! I can't wait to start getting outside more! ...but I am definitely, mostly at home. 
 

So what have YOU been up to these past few weeks? 
It's been FOREVER!


4.06.2015

Speedy Delivery: A Birth Story


Meet Charlotte Iva!


I was convinced that this little one was going to pop out early. She has "been ready" for over a month now. I've been having some mean Braxton Hicks for weeks. Many of these have actually made me stop in my tracks and focus on my breathing.

I hit 38 weeks and I felt as if she could arrive any day the way my BH were coming. But nope.


That week I woke to what I thought was my water breaking. So, eagerly I convinced the hubby that we needed to go get checked out. It's easier to convince your spouse when you're GBS positive, fyi. We were at the hospital all day with one result: "Everything looks great! You can go home." The nurse seemed convinced that I would have her before my next appointment that was five days away. But nope.

My 39 week appointment came along and I was seen by a different doctor at the office, one who hadn't seen me yet. He was nice but a fast talker. It was one of those situations where your doctor talks so fast that before you know it, you've agreed to something you haven't even given a wink of a thought to. He had convinced me to let him induce me that Wednesday. I honestly felt a little tricked into this because he never ever phrased it as if I was going to be induced, but he implied that it would happen and that I would have her on that very day. He also didn't give me a huge reason for the induction, other than to get antibiotics in me before my waters break. I understood the importance, but it didn't seem necessary. I asked him and he agreed that it wasn't necessary, but rather preference. 

Chris and I talked about it. I really wasn't sure what to do. I wanted her to come on her own but the timing of induction just seemed too good to be true. Chris supported me in whatever I decided but reminded me of my ultimate desire: to have a natural birth. One reason my husband is amazing: He reminds me of my ultimate desires in life. In this case, he reminded me how I've always wanted to do a natural birth. He was right. I really wanted a natural birth. So I quickly decided against and cancelled the induction. 

The following week at my appointment, we saw the same doctor. This time Chris was with me and I'm glad. That doctor upset me. He just didn't seem to listen. I know that all doctors have to inform their patients of risks and such things, but I was only 40 weeks and with no complications or concerns. He gave us a long speech of the risks of going past due (starting to hate that phrase) and then pretty much just ended it there. I felt like I had to force my opinion in there. Maybe it was just me. It probably was.

Let me back up a little. I was told by the midwife at the office that I didn't need any exams, because the baby would come in her own timing, no matter how many times they tell me how far dilated I am. She told me I could turn them down. Well, I guess I'm not super quick on my feet, but I felt like the nurses and doctors just made decisions for me sometimes before I was able to think. Anyways...at this appointment the nurse told me to get undressed because I needed an exam so close to my due date. I didn't know why, but went along with it. In retrospect, I should have gone ahead and told them that I didn't want any exams for a little while. 

This particular office has several doctors, the ones that usually saw me always asked me if I wanted the exam, but this doctor did not. He just assumed it's what I wanted, so he went ahead and performed the exam. That kind of irked me. During the exam he did the membrane sweep...then told me what he did. This irked me too. I'm not against getting a membrane sweep, but I definitely don't like it when doctors and nurses do things without my permission. It doesn't help that I have never been too comfortable with men I don't know.

This sweep started my body on an entirely new set of symptoms and "signs". That night I could have sworn that I was going to have the baby. My contractions were hard, long and consistent. They were each around 90 seconds long and came every 3.5 minutes. They were like clockwork, for almost five hours. They were also bearable, so I didn't call in. I just went to bed, but by the morning they had stopped.

That entire week my body went through so much. My contractions came more often and were more intense. I experienced so many more "signs" of impending labor, to the point I was terrified that I'd be one of those woman who had no idea she was in labor! There are a few women who could tell you how truly paranoid and stressed out I was. My husband could definitely tell you!

For all you preggos in your last month, I'll share the details in simple form. For those with a weak stomach or who just don't want to hear this, skip over this little list:

  • I lost my plug over the week. No show.
  • I had hard contractions at random, mostly starting after lunch. I had one day where they started in the morning. That was weird.
  • I got a killer sinus infection that hurt like death. It lasted for days.
  • I felt myself dilating, literally. It was the weirdest sensation.
  • I was nauseated every night.
  • I felt like I had a fever every night, but never had a temperature.
  • For a few days I felt like I was about to start my period. The pain, the cramps, the constant need to go to the bathroom, but nothing. No show, no nothing.
  • I had energy for a few days, and then for a couple of days I felt like sleeping all day long.

I was so stressed out. Everyone was calling and texting us every single day to ask if the baby was here yet. People were constantly telling us when they were getting off and telling us when they thought the baby should come. It was getting overwhelming.

I had no idea what to expect or if I'd even know when I was laboring. I was kind of freaking out. I'm telling you...I officially hate the phrase..."you'll just know". Even if it's true, don't keep telling this to a pregnant woman! Because in the moment, it's scary and you really, truly, and honestly believe that you'll never know!

I finally realized how stressed I had been and that I really just needed to take it all to God. I started praying all day, every day. I asked God for peace and tried to trust that He would give me the wisdom to know when I was in labor, or that He would just make it very very clear. I never went through any of this with my first pregnancy and the fact that I had all these "signs" and nothing to show for it, terrified me. I felt clueless and paranoid. It didn't help that I felt pressure from everyone with all the calls, texts, messages, and from everyone at the obgyn's office that kept saying things like "they haven't induced you yet?" (Don't tell pregnant women that either.)

So I gave it to God the best I knew how.

That weekend I started to put all my focus into praying and praising God (as I should be doing anyways). I felt Him welcome me in as I took my concerns to Him. On Sunday we stayed home from church. (Sometimes you just need family time.) We spent the day together in the beautiful weather and I spent the day praising and praying to God. I kept telling God what I longed for: a natural birth...and possibly her arrival within 48 hours. My sweet husband spent the night helping me relax. I felt like I had built up so much tension about this birth, and so I asked that he rub my back and feet, etc, to help me loosen up. We spent the night listening to praise music, singing, and praying. Truly giving it to God.

I started having contractions later that night, but they didn't stick. I was feeling discouraged.


THE BIG DAY

The following morning I had my 41 week check up. I had a small talk with God before we left for my appointment. I told Him that I had full faith in His timing for my little girl's arrival, but that He only had 17 hours left in the day. She needed to be here soon!

Fair warning: This is where it starts to get a little TMI, so avert your eyes if you don't care to read about this!

I asked to specifically see the midwife this time. I had seen her many many times before and she was always so easy to talk to. She was calm, understanding and encouraging of natural labor and letting the baby come at his/her own time. We talked about all my concerns and she did the exam. I hadn't progressed any. Still at 3 cm, which is what I was the previous week. That was upsetting, but the midwife was so encouraging. I believe she said exactly what God wanted her to tell me. She gave me hope and took away so much of my fear and anxiety. She didn't push for an induction, in fact, she left an open door for me and simply stated she wouldn't even bring it up until I was 42 weeks! I asked her to perform the membrane sweep just to see if it would help at all. She reminded me that the baby comes when SHE wants to, no matter what we try. GOOD REMINDER for those of you in the last few weeks of your pregnancy! 

She did the sweep and drew some blood --- good sign. Chris and I left feeling hopeful of letting our baby girl make her way in her own time. So we waited.


I was straight exhausted that day and for the past few days I had been feeling feverish (even though I never had a temperature). I rested all day while Hannah and Chris spent time with his family. The sickness feeling never went away. I just felt more and more ill as the day progressed. I was exhausted and miserable.

  After lunch I started having these mild menstrual cramps that lasted throughout the day, but I tried not to think anything of it. I had a sweep the week before and it did the same thing but with no results. They got a little more intense as the day went on, but still, I tried not to think anything of it.

THE START OF LABOR

It was a slow day for me, but I eventually went to bed at about 11:00 pm Monday night. I was feeling sick with slight cramping. I told God that I still wanted her here by tonight. I didn't know how He was going to do it, but He had an hour! He had until midnight! So I fell asleep and woke up to a POP at about 11:20 pm! (Can you say that God made perfect timing on that one? Yep!) But it didn't end there! This POP started the most painful and intense contractions! No warning! No gradual pain increase! I was there at the peak the second I felt that pop...and OH MY GOSH...it was awful!

I had to use the bathroom, so the second the contraction was over (which felt like 2 minutes!) I got up and walked to the bathroom. I felt an ooze. People say they feel a gush. Well I felt an ooze. I got to the bathroom and as soon as I sat on the toilet I had another contraction, just as intense, if not more. I texted my husband who was in the other room and told him to "come now". He immediately showed up. I guess it didn't really hit him though that I was in severe pain, 'cause he was just sitting around chatting with me as if my pain were tolerable at the moment. Oh heck no!

Another contraction came along and I called his name, but he still sat there (no husband bashing here, this is just literally what happened) so I snapped at him. "Chris." (No answer) "Chris." "Huh?" "GET YOUR FREAKIN' --- OVER HERE!!! NOW!!!!!!!"

Husbands, if your normally modest and conservative wife starts cussing, this is a sure sign she's in labor. Just sayin'.

I sat for a long time in that bathroom having contractions. I told Chris to contact Rachel, my best friend, and tell her to go ahead and come on over. I was going to be calling the hospital soon. Our plan was that she would come stay with Hannah if we ever had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. 


AT THE HOSPITAL

About an hour later we left for the hospital. I think God blessed me with just enough strength to get through that car ride. I'm surprised I wasn't as miserable as I assumed I was going to be. I had a contraction as soon as we pulled in and as soon as it ended, I hopped out and ran into the hospital. Now, when I say "ran", I mean I walked very very slowly as quickly as I possibly could. 

We got there close to 1 a.m. and since it was after hours we had to ring the bell. Yep, ring the bell. I was bouncing around trying to get through contractions as we made our way upstairs. They wanted me to sit and sign a couple of papers. Yea, right! 

In triage the contractions were getting more intense. There were only two nurses working (I think) and so it was kind of slow. The wait was miserable. They expected me to put on a gown and sit down and WAIT??? Ughhhh. The nurses examined me and found me to be only 4cm. The midwife told me earlier that day that I was at 3cm, but that some people would say 4cm. So when I heard that I was only 4cm, I assumed I had made no progress with all these contractions. LAME. 

It took them a minute...or thirty...but eventually they declared my water broken and admitted me into a room. Chris wanted to push me in the wheelchair, but couldn't figure out how to work it and almost put me in a wheely position. I snapped at him. "Don't you EVER do that again!!!" So he let the nurse push, haha! Once in the room, my contractions immediately intensified. I told them I wanted to stand and that sitting was the worst position ever. Well, I had to sit...and wait...and wait. They had to get me all hooked up, put the IV in, strap me up to the monitors, get the antibiotics going...you get the picture. Finally, after what seemed like forever, I could stand up. It helped some, but only for a little while. 

Chris would have to put pressure on my hips to help me get through each contraction. My husband worked just as hard as I did for a while there! Eventually that didn't help anymore and it actually made it worse. I asked for pain medication. They gave me some, but I don't think it helped at all. 

I distinctly remember two (or maybe three) spikes in contractions. As in, they spiked to a whole new level of pain and intensity and did not return to their previous level of intensity. I don't know if that makes sense or if any of you went through a labor that was similar, but geez! It was awful! By the time I was "used to" the level of pain of my contractions, there would be a minute pause and then my next contraction would be ten times worse. Later on, Chris told me how he could see the spikes on the monitor, how they would be one level of intensity and then shoot up.

I'm not going to lie guys, I was a screamer. I screamed. A lot. I blame it on the fact that I never knew when I was about to start contracting. There was no warning sign, no "wave" over my belly...every contraction started at the peak. It was horrible. It was hell. 

I would scream and the nurses would run in and tell me to calm down. I kept yelling back at them "I'm trying! Trust me! I'm trying!" The moment I could catch my breath I was trying to breath. It's so hard to breathe slowly like they tell you to. I'm just sayin'. I kid you not, I was imagining beaches and palm trees!

I told my husband that I was considering an epidural. The last time they had checked me I was only 5cm. ONLY 5CM!!! How slowly could this child come out?! Seriously now. I was experiencing what felt like hell every single minute and I was only at 5cm?!! Crying over here. They put off answering me for a while. They knew I wanted a natural birth. I did hear them mention something about two other people being ahead of me for the epidural. So, I kept waiting to hear if I would get to have the epidural. I was in so much pain. 

Chris left the room to grab a power drink from a friend who was so kind to bring it to him at three in the morning. While he was gone (and for only a minute or two), I was alone in the room. No nurses. No Chris. Just me. I was singing and praying and talking to Charlie to keep myself calm. There was a minute pause. Remember that minute pause I mentioned earlier? Yea, I should have seen it coming. 

There was a minute pause and I had the worst contraction I have ever experienced, and they just kept coming. It terrified me. I'm not going to lie when I say that it felt like an out-of-body experience. I just started screaming and almost running in place on the bed. My nurse ran in a second later, rushing, checking my monitor, asking me if I felt anything different happening down there. I didn't know. I think there were a couple of times that I felt like pushing. I might have actually pushed, but I wasn't sure what was going on. I just knew that it hurt beyond belief and I still wanted that epidural!

The nurse examined me quickly (it's amazing how you don't remember getting examined during all the chaos) and said that I was at 8cm. Holy moly! Wasn't I just 5cm less than an hour ago??? I don't think it hit me how close I was to having this baby. All I knew was that I probably wouldn't be getting an epidural by now. Ugh. 

By this point, Chris came running back into the room. I saw seven nurses run in. Is this for the epidural? Yay! --- Delusional much? I saw him watch the nurses rush to pull their things together, and Chris did the same, taking off his nice button down, leaving his undershirt on. I was in my own little world...screaming...but I could tell by the look on his face, it was game time. I just didn't know it yet.


DELIVERY

I don't remember much around this point in time. I feel like I blacked out or fell asleep or something, but I don't remember what happened in those few minutes. All I know is that when I opened my eyes, the nurses and my obgyn were in front of me telling me to put my legs up. 

Yea, I started freaking out. Whaaaaaat? I have to push? I don't want to push! It's going to hurt! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I don't want to push! 

Yea...that didn't last long. I'm pretty sure I was pushing before they told me to push. 

One nurse kept telling me to calm down and another nurse kept telling me to open my eyes. This one beautiful nurse was holding my hand telling me to open my eyes and to look at her. We shared many a glance during my labor. She kept telling me to breathe. She had this very peaceful and cheerful feel about her. I don't know if it was just the pain I was in or if she is just one joyful lady, but I liked her. She was awesome and I told her so. In the middle I pushing, in a calm moment of breathing, staring into this nurse's eyes (haha!) I said "I like you". Yep. I'm that woman. They just laughed. Glad I could brighten their moment. Haha!

Pushing sucked at first. I almost blacked out. I think I actually did for a split second. I told them that I was going to throw up, but I never did. The obgyn kept telling me to look and see what was happening. I kept telling them that I couldn't see anything, but they insisted that I could. I kept telling them that I couldn't. After the third or fourth time of them telling me I could in fact see, I saw my baby girl's head. That was good enough for me. I gave one final push and I felt her curvy little body leave my body. It was the weirdest thing I have ever felt, and yet it was so awesome! They told me later that I had only pushed for ten minutes!

Charlotte (Charlie) Iva made her arrival at 4:15 a.m.! Less than four hours at the hospital and my baby girl was born! I had no idea that it was going to be that fast! 

The very second she was out of me, I felt normal. No pain. No crazy preggo hormones. I felt like me again. 

They brought her to my chest immediately and dried her off. She was (is) beautiful. So so beautiful! Her skin was already so soft, unlike Hannah's, who was still wrinkly and a little dry at her birth (39 weeks). She cried immediately and I just laid there kissing her and talking to her. My little Charlie bug!


POSTPARTUM

The nurses were surprised with how quickly I bounced back. They never got a chance to see how calm and easy going I am on a normal basis. My nurse at one point just said "wow, you're so calm!" I kept thanking them for dealing with my craziness and for being so sweet and helpful. I was seriously out of my right mind during labor. 

I bounced back rather quickly. It gets tiring having to just sit there in the hospital bed, so it was nice being able to stand up and stretch every few minutes without needing assistance. I was able to get up and take care of Charlie without having to wake Chris or call for a nurse. My postpartum nurse told me that I was her favorite patient because I never asked for anything, haha! 

All in all, it was an amazing experience. God heard my plea for a natural birth and for her to arrive quickly into our lives. She came in HIS time and I am so grateful that we waited. 

CHARLIE
 
Charlie is a bright-eyed little baby. She always looks so cheerful and happy. She sleeps throughout the entire night and has solid naps throughout the day...and she's only six days old! She'll stay awake for an hour at a time and just listen to you talk. She loves being held and loves getting to lay down and wiggle. She loves her big sister and her big sister loves her. 




We are so blessed to have this sweet and beautiful addition to our family! I am so excited to watch her grow and I am excited to see how she and Hannah grow together! I am trying to remember how quickly time flies and to cherish the moments where I'm tied to the couch nursing or to the rocking chair trying to get my toddler to go to sleep at night. 

My husband and I feel even closer as we face this new season in life. I couldn't ask for a better man! He has been so good to me throughout my pregnancy, despite my craziness. He is such a great husband and a wonderful daddy to my little girls! I am so so blessed!


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IN RETROSPECT

I can definitely say that with a natural birth, you bounce back so much faster. With Hannah and an epidural, it took forever for me to get back on my feet, go to the bathroom, and do just simple stuff. It's not only because you're body is slowly gaining feeling again, but the medicine just messes with your mind and the rest of your body, too. Without it, I was able to get up right away and use the bathroom, walk around my postpartum room without help, and get back to normal. 

One thing I noticed, was that the nurses weren't prepared to have to calm someone down. There was only one nurse who knew how to get me to breathe slowly. In retrospect, I can see why a midwife and doula are so valuable for natural labor. Although every labor is different, they have lots of experience with talking people through their pain. I realize now, that if I had someone like that nurse beside me the ENTIRE time and not just at the very end, I probably wouldn't have freaked out as much or screamed as much. 



3.09.2015

Survival Mode

Okay guys...it's been quiet around here. Very...quiet...and I've been putting off writing about the things going on in my heart and mind lately. Partially because I've been so tired and partially because I can't really seem to get my thoughts together...but today I'm taking some advice from a great friend and counselor and being honest with you guys.
I'm in survival mode.

surviving motherhood

What do I mean by this, you ask?

We watch way too much TV. I lay around doing "nothing", way too much. We get out of the house in order to keep ourselves busy and entertained, way too much.

My almost two-year-old screams at me constantly and she seeks my affection and attention almost every single minute of the day. She doesn't seem to know what she wants and it causes chaos every hour.

Our conversations lately have sounded something like this...



"Do you want to watch doggy (Clifford)?"
She nods her head.
"Okay" Turn on Clifford.
She starts screaming "nooo!!!" and frantically runs around stomping.
"You said you wanted to watch doggy. What do you want to watch?"
"Anna" (aka Frozen)
"You want to watch Anna?"
She nods her head.
"Okay, let's watch Anna."
She starts screaming and stomping! "Nooo!!! Ack!!!"
"You just said you wanted to watch Anna. You don't want to watch Anna?"
She shakes her head, no. "NO!!!"
"Okay...then what do you want to watch?"
"Doggy."
"You want to watch the doggy?"
She nods her head. "Uh huh!"
I turn on Clifford.
She starts screaming and stomping around. "Noooo!!!"
"No? You said you wanted to watch the doggy!"
"ANNA!!!"
"Okay, Anna it is then!" Start to turn on Frozen.
Her screaming gets even more frantic and she throws herself around. "NOOOO!!!!!!!"

Does this happen at your house???
This is new for us...and this is every day for us. Ugh.



For those of you who haven't caught up with the times...I'm pregnant. I'm 38 weeks pregnant! I can't bend. I can barely tie my shoes. By about 2:30 every day, I can hardly walk, my hips hurt so bad. Let's just say I'm ready for this little nugget to make her arrival!

Now, let me tell you about my almost two-year-old, Hannah. Hannah is a runner. Yep. I can't take her anywhere. She runs from me everywhere we go. And she's fast. Really fast. She is the most stubborn, goofy, rebellious and feisty child I know. I know that these characteristics are going to be such a blessing at some point in time, but right now, when I have to chase her in every store and fight her from climbing in and out of the buggy...it's tiring...and annoying. Let's be real guys.

My toddler wants to be picked up every five minutes, carried to and from stores, to and from the car, to and from the rooms in our house...you name it. The baby in my belly is already as low as she's going to get without escaping, and all this carrying around a 35lber, on my already strained belly, isn't helping me rest much at this point in my pregnancy.

I've been told (and I've done much reading on the issue) that kids tend to regress when a baby is born into the family. They can regress in any area, pretty much. It could be potty training, sleep training, speech, independence...anything. Did any of your kids regress around this season of life?

Well, anyways...


Hannah is regressing in the sense that she wants to be the baby again. She wants an endless amount of skin-to-skin mommy cuddles. She wants to drink out of baby bottles and is starting to recall that mommy used to supply her milk. Let's just say...things can get a little awkward every now and then.

Some people will tell you that this happens when a baby is on the way, but she seems to "know" or "sense" that change is about to happen and she's gotten clingy, shy and extra needy. I have literally had to drag her into church on more than one occasion, with her holding onto my leg for dear life.

She hates going anywhere and everywhere. Either I have to drag her to the car kicking and screaming, or I have to carry her kicking and screaming. Either way, it's no fun. It's exhausting and leaves me sore afterwards. 

So as a result, we've been going nowhere. 

On the bright side, I'm beginning to see that it's been best for us to just stay at home. I need the rest and Hannah needs more and more of my attention right now.

Here's the thing with being in "survival mode"...

It usually leads to the whole family being unsatisfied somehow. It gets hard to show affection and attention without it being forced. You know what I mean?

I have recently heard God telling me, "Slow down Stephanie. Slow down." I've heard it week after week, but I wasn't listening. I wasn't obeying him. Conviction.

So I've decided to finally listen to the wisdom God has been offering me, and I've slowed down. I've taken what I feel like is half of my normal routine and I've pushed it aside. It started with me saying that I wouldn't leave the house certain days of the week, to me actually not leaving the house certain days of the week. With it, I am realizing which activities I truly enjoy as an individual versus which activities I was doing simply because I wanted to entertain my daughter.

I have taken a step back and because of that...I rest more often. I spend more time with Hannah. I have more time for taking care of my home. I've been inspired to read more of the Word (simply because I have the time). It's amazing what happens when you quit trying to fill your life with stuff


This is such a random post, I know. So much of it is me venting about my daily struggles with Hannah and then part of it is me expressing what God is doing through it all. 

I encourage you mama, if you are in this "survival mode", to take a step back. Slow down. Quit leaving your home every day just because you're bored and irritated or just because you're at a loss of ways to entertain your little one. Even if all you can think to do is turn on Clifford and cuddle, then thank God for the few moments you get to hold your little one in your arms. Kiss her, play with her hair, read the Bible, pray over her, take a power nap, hold her hands, play with her cute little toes...be grateful.  

God does amazing and beautiful things when we listen and obey Him. Has He been telling you slow down, mama? 

2.17.2015

I'm Not Going to Lie

I'm not going to lie...

I have been trying to write posts for weeks now but I keep getting stopped in my tracks. I start writing about motherhood or just my own personal struggles but then God just sets me straight and shows me what I should be thinking, doing or focusing on instead.



I have been pretty close to survival mode for the past few weeks. I've been exhausted, going to bed close to 8:30 every night.
I have been in such pain this pregnancy, because of Hannah's constant climbing and the fact that Charlie has been sooo low the entire time.
I can't focus. I don't have energy to get anything done. I am in too much pain to do half of what I normally do with Hannah.
I see how much needs to get done around the house every single day and it's exhausting just thinking about it, but I can't get it done.

I could write about this all day, every day. Seriously. However, it seems as if God doesn't really want me to focus on that. Sure, there are so many of you who might find encouragement knowing that someone else is struggling through the EXACT things you are. Let me just go ahead and tell you...you are NOT ALONE. Someone else is facing the same struggles and frustrations and temptations as you!


However, today God wants me to tell you this:

Don't focus on your struggles. Instead, focus on God's strengths and His blessings in your life.

Don't focus on chores that aren't complete. Instead, focus on the hearts and minds that are growing within your home. Instead, focus on your own health, spiritual, physical, emotional and mental.

Don't focus on all the things you AREN'T DOING.
Instead, focus on the things you ARE DOING...like loving on your children and your spouse.

Quit rushing to complete your never ending to-dos. Instead, slow down and breathe. Speak life into the hearts around you.

Don't focus on the fact that you've had a "slow" or "unproductive" day, but instead, thank God for the fact that you can have a "slow" or "unproductive" day.

It's time to put our focus on the beautiful opportunities and moments in our lives, instead of comparing our lives to the lives of others. 

It's time to speak the Word of God over ourselves, our families, and our homes, instead of listening to and repeating what others have to say about us.

Set your foot down. Declare a revival in your home. Declare a renewal of hearts within your home. Speak it...in the name of Jesus Christ!

WE ARE HIS!!!

Now let's live like it.

"I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms."
Ephesians 1:19-20

"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
Ephesians 2:10

"Therefore, I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God."
Ephesians 4:1


2.10.2015

Daddy Power

Okay...I'm a stay-at-home mom. I'm all about mom power, because I think that moms do so much more than the world gives them credit for, but I do have to say...

Dad


DON'T FORGET THE DADS

Like I said, I am all for "mom power", but I haven't recently gotten tired of seeing so many pictures, videos and articles based solely for moms because I feel like we've forgotten about the dads.

First off, we praise and try to remind everyone in the world about the important work of stay-at-home moms (or moms in general), but what about stay-at-home dads? What about single dads?


What about the dads?

There are single dads out there, that do the work of many. That slave all day and come home to take care of their children for the rest of their 24 hours.
There are dads who want badly to be with their children every day but for some reason they can't.
There are dads who work their butts off, so that their families can have the best life possible. They come home at the end of a long day and love on their families, despite what they're been through that day.

Without hardworking fathers, stay-at-home moms wouldn't get the opportunity to do as much for their families and homes. THAT'S THE TRUTH!

Without my husband, I wouldn't be able to do all that I do. I would be stuck at a job that I, honestly, probably wouldn't enjoy. At least not as much as I enjoy being home with my little girl.

There are so many things that fathers go through that we don't hear about that often, if at all. I know that there are many things that my husband goes through at work, that he doesn't bring home. I am grateful that he doesn't always burden us with his work struggles, but at the same time...just think about all the hardships that they face that we don't know about!

Fathers are selfless men. They do what's best for their family, despite their own desires. They work hard at home and away from home. They deserve as much praise as moms. They deserve as much recognition as moms. 

So, to the fathers all over the world, thank you! Thank you for all that you do! Your hard labor in the home and away from home are not forgotten! You do so much for us so that we can live in peace and in safety! We admire you and we look up to you! You are so humble in all that you do and you never miss a beat! You provide a grand life for your family! You are PERFECT to us! THANK YOU!!!


To my husband, Chris: You are such a humble, hard-working man. You provide so many wonderful opportunities and experiences for us and you cherish seeing our joy. I love that about you! A lot of what you do goes unnoticed and without praise, but I pray daily that God will help me see all that you do, especially the behind-the-scenes stuff! You sacrifice so much for us! Without you, I would not get to be this stay-at-home mom for Hannah and our soon-to-be little one. I love my job as a mom and I am so grateful that you allow me to do this full-time! You are so good to me, to Hannah and to Charlie. All of your hard-work is such a blessing to us and it is not forgotten! You are amazing! I could never thank you enough!!!



dad
dad
dad
dad
dad

Let's love on the dads in our lives today! Let's remember all the unseen and unspoken work that they do! If you have to write a list of all the things he does for you family, then do it. Praise him for all his efforts! He is a hard-working man, even if today he isn't reaching your standards! 

Tell me something great about the fathers in your life!!!