Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Blue Dress

I've mulled over this blog post for a couple of days for several reasons.  I am fairly private about some things, especially when it comes to my husband's career.  I don't like pulling the pity card nor do I think that complaining about frustrations is very fruitful.
To write this post, I have to delve into those areas I tend to keep to myself.

I love my husband.  He loves his career.  I love that he loves his career.
I don't always like what he has to do in his career--this applies, of course, to the deployments that take him so very far away from our family.
Now, with that said, I fully and completely support him in what the Lord has called him to do.  He is following his heart and where the Lord has lead him and it is my duty and delight to support him in that.

But, being honest, sometimes it stinks.

I have, in essence, been a single mother for the past six months.  I am blessed that I am currently nearby family, so I at least have that help available most days if I need it.  But, for all intents and purposes, I am a single mom.  I work full-time.  I volunteer several places.  I try to stay social.  I do my best to keep my house clean and running smoothly.
and sometimes, it gets very, very hard.

Comparing this deployment to our last one would be like trying to compare apples and oranges.  We were childless and had been married less than 4 months when he left last time.  We lived in a one bedroom apartment.  I worked in a job I didn't particularly care for.  I was also a full time student.
That one was hard, but we learned a lot through the process.

This deployment, if we do want to compare, has been leaps and bounds easier.  These last six months have flown by, mostly in part due to our adorable daughter.  Most days, I feel like I've blinked and the time has disappeared.
But, it's also been harder in different respects.  A child changes everything.
My husband is doing significantly more things during this particular tour.  We are blessed if we get a phone call once every two weeks.  Skype has been unreliable, and I could probably count the times we've gotten it to work on my fingers and toes.
But I also felt more prepared this time around.  I have consciously chosen to cherish the moments.  I don't dwell on the sadness that, on some days, threatens to overwhelm me.  I actively chose joy and rely on the Lord to be my strength and husband.

But there are times  when I just want to give up.  There are times when I get tired.
and I'm not one to ask for help or pity.

Most military spouses aren't looking for handouts or attention or "poor you".  We are happy to stand by our military husbands and wives without much fanfare.
As a wife who is called to support her husband, I gladly do this on a day to day basis.

This is why the story I'm about to tell you matters so much.

This past week, I was burnt out.  My daughter hadn't been sleeping.  I hadn't heard from my husband in a couple of weeks.  Work was busy.  I was tired.  I felt, for a lack of a better word, invisible.  Usually, I am good at hiding it, but it had been a trying few days and I was exhausted of fighting it anymore.
On Wednesday this week, my mom was watching my daughter while I was at work and needed to keep her late, so I decided to go look for a homecoming dress for my husband's return that is going to be here soon.  While I have lost a lot of the baby weight, none of my old, cute dresses fit very well and I wanted to feel pretty for when he returned.  I decided to take the extra couple of hours for myself and do some shopping.

I went to several stores and couldn't find anything that I liked (or that fit).  I finally found some dresses I liked at JCPenny's so I went to try them on.  Again, nothing fit, nothing stuck out to me, but I kept trying.
Finally, I found a light blue one I "kind of" liked.  I went out to where the three way mirror was in the hallway and was checking my image to see if this was "the one".
An older woman and her daughter (who was about my age) were also in the dressing room so I asked them if I could have their opinion on my dress.
The mom asked what the occasion was so I told her.
The daughter peeked her head out of the dressing room and said, "Oh no, you need to look sassy.  That dress isn't sassy".
I laughed and explained that I had a baby recently so I wasn't feeling very "sassy".  The two women smiled and said they would help me find a dress that was perfect.

We spent 15 minutes having me try on different dresses.  We talked and I found out the daughter was pregnant with twins!  We conversed about babies, pregnancy and twins, and they asked about my little family as well.
Finally, we found THE dress.  It was dark blue and very much my style.  I felt good, they loved it, and we all agreed my husband would like it. I thanked them over and over for taking time out of their busy evening to help me find the perfect outfit to welcome my husband home in....and they went on their way.

I got dressed, browsed a bit more and then headed up to the register.  The two women were four people ahead of me in line and already checking out.
The mother waved at me and said, "Would you come here for a moment?"
I walked toward them, not sure why she wanted me to come up there.
She took the dress out of my hands before I could say anything and said, "We're paying for this."

Knee-jerk reaction. "No! You don't have to do that! Really!"

She smiled, placed her hand on my shoulder, and looked me in the eyes, "Yes. We do.  People so often forget about the spouses left behind.  Supporting our troops goes beyond those overseas.  Let us thank you and your family in this way."

I didn't know what to say.  My eyes started welling up with tears.  The daughter was already crying.  I could see the mom getting misty eyed too.

"No, really, it's okay", I said.

The dress was already bagged up, the mom had swiped her card.

"Let this be our thank you," she said.  "Really, it's the least we can do".

I was sobbing, "You have no idea how much this blesses me," I said.

The daughter looked at me and smiled, "You blessed us tonight."

The transaction ended.  They handed me my bag and gave me one last hug.  I tried to thank them again and they wouldn't let me.
"People need to tell you thank you," they said.

Then they left.
I stood at my car and wept.  God had sent those women to me, of that I am fully convinced.  They were shopping for maternity clothes the same night I chose to look for my homecoming dress because God knew that I felt forgotten.  He knew I was tired.  He knew I felt lonely.
And through that blue dress, He reminded me that I'm not alone and that it's okay to admit to hard days and that, even when it's hard, there are people in the world who support us and who can show us love.

My blue dress is hanging in our closet where I can see it until the day K comes home.  I never asked for someone to pay for my dress.  I would never expect a thank you or recognition for our life that we live.
but by someone blessing me in that way I'm reminded that we aren't forgotten.

I wish I knew the names of those two women.  They appeared in my life right when I needed it.

Next time you meet a military spouse or family member, please thank them.  We would never, ever, ask for that....
but you never know if they would need to hear it that day.

I will never forget what happened this week and it is my hope that I can one day run into these women again so that I can thank them and let them know that the Lord used them that day to brighten the tired heart of a young military wife.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Carry Them: A Babywearing Primer


Back when I found out I was pregnant, it never crossed my mind that there were other ways to transport babies other than a stroller, car seat or parents’ arms.  When creating my registry, a friend told me to put a Moby on my list, but I honestly had no idea how to use it, or even when I’d make use of this stretchy jersey material (and thinking to myself the whole time, how in the world does it even work?).

When we found out my husband was going to be deploying shortly after the birth of our daughter, it sent me into panic mode.  How was I going to get things done?  What if baby needed to be held all the time? How was I going to manage snuggles while also keeping up with the house solo?

Then I remembered that silly long piece of fabric I received as a shower gift.

I distinctly remember the first time I used that wrap.  I followed the instructions in the booklet as well as I could and was pretty proud of myself when I managed to create something that looked similar to what they had shown.

               


Looking back, it was not the best wrap job ever, but it was a step into this wonderful world that I enjoy and enjoy sharing with other parents now.

E was born in January, so we weren’t outside, but I had two main complaints about my Moby wrap:

1.       It was HOT

2.       It was SO long and hard to wrap while running errands

Then I met M.  M is a certified baby wearing educator that helps lead our local BabyWearing International group.  I talked to her briefly about my concerns and she offered to help me learn other ways to carry my baby that would work best for our lifestyle.

I went to one meeting and I was hooked.

M let me borrow her ring sling, a much shorter piece of fabric that creates a “pouch” of sorts for the baby to sit in that is ideal for quick shopping trips or an itty bitty newborn.  Within 4 days, I had gone out and bought one of my own.

                

I began to see the benefits of wearing E.  She was always pleasant.  I was able to accomplish tasks with my hands free while still holding her.  I didn’t have to lug around her giant car seat.  It was all too good to be true.

But it got better.

I had seen pictures of M wearing babies on her back.  Who knew this was possible?!  So I asked her to show me how to do it.  M said that I would need to use a woven wrap instead of my Moby, since it is not considered safe to do a back carry with a woven wrap.  I made my very first woven purchase (a lovely Didymos Indio Lilac) on a local Facebook sale page and then we got together and M taught me an easy to learn back carry when E was just shy of 3 months old.




And it still got better.

I joined a Facebook group where other mamas who wore their babies would talk and swap helpful tips or hints.  There were so many other ways to carry the babies, so many types of wraps and carriers, so many options.  So many choices!

It was overwhelming!

I began inviting my friends who were interested in wearing to the Facebook Swap Page and soon realized that the lingo that I had become accustomed to was not as colloquial as I had originally thought.  My fear was that all the terms and options would eventually turn off my friends to wearing, which is the opposite effect than what I would have liked.

So, knowing this, I have created a very basic primer of all the things I wish I had known when I started babywearing.  This is not an exhaustive list, by any means, but it will hopefully be helpful to those of you who might be interested in entering into the world of babywearing.  Please keep in mind that I am by no means an expert or an educator, I am only speaking from what I have learned in my own research and experience.

Ready?

Stretchy Wraps





Brands: Moby, Boba (Sleepy Wrap), Wrapsody (Gypsymama)


These wraps are long pieces of jersey fabric that you wrap around your body in various ways to create “pouches” of sorts where baby can sit.  These can be used for hip and front carries and should never be used for a back carry
              *Wrapsody is the exception to this rule

These are great for when baby is a newborn and still in the “squishy” phase.  These wraps are also considered the “gateway” carriers into the world of wearing as they are readily available at most major retailers.  Another plus to these carries is that they are truly one size fits all and can accommodate a variety of body shapes and sizes.

While they are often touted as being good up to 20+ pounds, many users find that it becomes uncomfortable and not as supportive after about 15 pounds.  Other complaints I have heard (and experienced) is how hot these particular fabrics can be.  The Moby and Boba wraps are not going to be very comfortable during hot weather.

I personally own a Moby and will definitely hang onto it for future babies, but we are not currently using it now that E is 15 pounds and we prefer to do back carries.

Ring Slings (RS)





Brands: Maya Wrap, SweetPea, Psling, Sleeping Baby Productions (SBP)


These are shorter pieces of fabric that are looped through two rings that create a pouch for baby.  One side of the sling is over your shoulder and the other comes down around your arm.  You can easily adjust the tightness of the fabric around baby by pulling on the fabric through the rings.  Ring Slings (RS) come in a variety of fabrics, lengths and thickness and can be used with babies and toddlers of all sizes.

Ring slings are my preferred carrier for newborns.  In my own experience, these are by far the easiest carrier to nurse in, and the tail of the sling is a handy cover for if you’re out in public and want to cover while nursing.  Ring slings have very little learning curve as well, which makes them a great option for people just starting out.

As far as price points, it varies on the carrier.  The Maya wrap is easily found in baby boutiques and online for around $65-$70 new.  This is one that I own and I have found them easy to break in and use.  They don’t get as hot as the Moby and are much easier to throw in the car and use for shopping trips and quick ups and downs.

Ring slings can also go for significantly more.  When you get into wrap conversion ring slings (WCRS), which are woven wraps (see below) that have been professionally turned into a ring sling, the price will often be more—anywhere from $85-$150+ depending on the fabric.  There are several converters that are reputable, but the one I’ve heard of most is SleepingBaby Productions (SBP).  I have used a WCRS before and I find them even more comfortable and easier to use than my Maya.

You can also make your own RS, but it is important to ensure you are using a quality fabric (Osnaburg is the one typically recommended—you can pick it up at a Jo Ann’s fabric or similar store for fairly cheap).  If making your own, it is also important to get your rings from a reputable seller.  Sling Rings are tested up to something like 300 pounds and will not break.  Do not use plastic or crafting rings if you plan to make your own ring sling.

Personally, I own two ring slings (one Maya and one SweetPea).  I love them, but haven’t reached for them much lately as E and I prefer wrapping for now.  I have heard that as baby becomes more mobile that RS are great for quick ups and downs.  A good friend of mine still uses her RS for her 18 month old, so these will last you quite a while.

Woven Wraps





Brands: Girasol (Gira), Kokadi (KKD), Oscha, Natibaby (Nati), Didymos (Didy), Easycare, Ellaroo, Lenny Lamb (LL), Dolcino, Vatanai (Vat), Hoppediz (Hopp), Little Frog


Wovens are made by a variety of retailers/manufacturers and run the gamut of price and materials.  Similar to the stretchy wraps above, these are long pieces of fabric that you wrap around you and baby to secure them to your body.  Unlike the stretchy wraps, these come in a variety of sizes which can be used for different carries, depending on length.

The most common size woven to start with is a 6.  Much like the stretchy wraps, these are also one size fits all, although depending on the size of the wearer, they may not be able to do all carries with one particular size (for example, my base size is actually a 5, but I can do pretty much every carry with a 5 or 6).

Depending on the manufacturer, the size of the wrap will be listed differently:

                         Size 2=2.7 meters
                         Size 3=3.1 meters
                         Size 4=3.6 meters
                         Size 5=4.2 meters
                      Size 6=4.6 meters
                        Size 7=5.2 meters
                      Size 8=5.6 meters

Sizes 2 & 3 are considered “shorty wraps”

Sizes 4-6 are generally considered mid-length

Sizes 7 & 8 are considered long wraps

The beauty of wovens is in their versatility.  I can do front, hip and back carries (as well as tandem carries) with a woven.

                

Wovens come in a variety of fabrics, patterns and weaves.  You will often hear discussion of the woven’s “weft”, which is reference to the horizontal thread that runs through the fabric.  The color of this thread determines how a wrap may look.  Fabrics can be cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo, silk, alpaca, gauze or a mixture of these fabrics.

Weaves also play a part.  For example, Girasol has a particular weave called a Diamond Weave (DW) which is known for being much cooler and more supportive than other weaves.  Didymos Indios are another example of a specific weave.

Just like going shopping at the store, most wovens are not one size fits all.  Much of it comes down to personal preference, budget and needs.  I also have several sizes and prints that I use for different things.  For example, I don’t use my 100% cotton wrap to mow the lawn, I use my 100% linen one, as linen is much cooler and more supportive than cotton.  Not everyone is going to like a particular brand or weave, and that’s perfectly fine as well.

Woven wraps have the longest “shelf life” that I’ve seen.  There are pictures circulating around the web that have mothers wearing their husbands just to show that they can be supportive up until it is comfortable for the wearer.  It is not uncommon to see a 3 or 4 year old being worn in a woven wrap.

Price points run very differently with wovens.  Some work at home mom (WAHM) vendors like WrapNap Fairy sell them new anywhere from $45 and up (I have a Wrap Nap Fairy one and love it) and others that are Hard to Find/Highly Sought After (HTF/HSA) can go for upwards of $300 or more.  I have even seen some go for well over $1500!  Like the ring sling, you can also make your own wrap using the Osnaburg fabrics.  There are many tutorials on YouTube how to do this.

I own 6 wovens: 2 Easycare, 1 Girasol, 1 Wrap Nap Fairy, 1 Didymos and 1 Kokadi.  I really do like all of them and haven’t found a specific preference.  I use different sizes for different carries and have a “beater” wrap that I don’t mind getting dirty.  All of mine except for 2 were bought used, which I highly recommend doing so you don’t need to break in your wrap.  You can also save some money by buying used (usually).

Another perk of wovens is that they keep their value even with use.  It isn’t uncommon for people to sell their wovens at 75%-90% retail value.  This sometimes helps with the sticker shock you might experience.

Right now, wovens are my favorite and we use ours daily.  Babywearing Faith on Youtube has some awesome tutorials if you are wanting to learn how to wrap using a woven. 

Soft Structured Carriers (SSC)





Brands: Ergo, Boba 3G, Beco, Kinderpack (KP), Tula, Action Baby Carrier (ABC)


Soft structured carriers are perhaps the most user friendly of the babywearing carriers.  These already have the seat for your baby and all you have to do is set baby in the seat and buckle the carrier onto you.  You can do front and back carries and some hip carries with these as well.  My sister has claimed our SSC as “hers” since it’s so easy to use and they’re usually padded, making them very comfortable for both baby and the wearer.

I most often use our SSC for long periods of wear (zoo trips, hikes, etc).

Most SSCs come with a hood that you can snap over baby if they fall asleep or if it’s particularly sunny.  If they don’t come with one, it’s usually easy to find one to buy separately.  These are also great because they can come in so many patterns (mine is a pink design, perfect for my princess!)

Soft structured carriers are not one size fits all.  If you can find one to try before you buy it, I’d recommend that, as each carrier fits a bit differently and it comes down to preference (for example, I don’t care for how the Ergo fits me, but the Boba 3G fits me great).  Some carriers can have waist extenders to accommodate for plus sized wearers. 

You also have to watch how the carrier fits baby.  The base of the carrier should go knee to knee* and the child should not be falling out of the top.  Some brands (Tula and Kinderpack for sure) have standard and toddler sizes to aid in getting a proper fit for your baby/toddler.  Boba 3G carriers also come with stirrups that a child with longer legs can put their feet in for comfort.  Fit does matter and will play a role in how comfortable wearing is for you.

                *A word on Bjorns/Infantino carriers:

These carriers are not classified under the SSC category.  Most babywearing educators will discourage the use of these carriers as they are not ergonomically correct (knee to knee support).  Whereas the weight is supported in a sitting position in most SSCs, in the Bjorn type carriers, the weight is supported with the pelvis/groin.  Most wearers complain that these carriers are not comfortable and much of it has to do with the weight distribution.  These carriers aren’t awful, but, for the same price, you would be able to find a carrier that would be much more comfortable for both you and for baby.

                **A word on facing baby out in a SSC:

While, in theory, it would be great to face baby out in a SSC (like what is encouraged with the Bjorn type carriers), there are several reasons not to do so, especially for long periods of time.  This article does a great job of explaining why.

Price wise, SSCs are going to cost around $120 new, but you can often find them used for less than $80.  A word of caution, especially with Ergos: there are a lot of knock offs on the market, and while they might be safe, they are not guaranteed in their structure/stitching/integrity of the fabric.  If you buy an Ergo, please call the company directly to confirm its authenticity.

I have one SSC (Boba 3G) that I really like.  As I said above, my sister has claimed it as “her” carrier because of its ease of use and how cute it is.

Mei Tais





Brands: BabyHawk, Bamberoo


Mei Tais (pronounced May-Tie) are the best of the wrap world and soft structure world rolled into one.  They are a hybrid of these two and come with a structured seat for baby and then straps you wrap instead of buckle.  Straps can be padded or unpadded and a variety of designs are available.  I have personally never used a Mei Tai, but I have heard nothing but good things about them.

You can do front, back and hip carries with a Mei Tai.

Price wise, you can get a quality mei tai at Target for around $30 and the price can go up from there.  Conversions will cost a great deal more and are often custom, adding to the cost.

Wrap Conversions (WC): Wrap Conversions are when a wrap is given to a reputable manufacturer and they are then converted into a mei tai (or ring sling or SSC).  Conversions can come with full buckles (FB), half buckles (HB) and can be made from wraps (WCMT) or even a well-made tablecloth (TCMT)

Cost of these conversions can range anywhere from $100+ which is why you might see a conversion going for more than $300+ on a selling page.  You factor in the original cost of the wrap plus the cost of conversion.

As I said above, I have not personally used a Mei Tai, but I have many friends who swear by theirs.  These work great for both babies and toddlers and are easy enough to use for people who like the support of wrapping but want the ease of a SSC.

Are you confused yet?

Yes, there are lots of options out there and it can be hard to weed through what you want and what will work best for your needs.  I highly recommend finding a Babywearing group or a Babywearing International Group in your area.  Experienced wearers and educators can then help you narrow down your choices.  Paxbaby.com also has a resource that can help you find a good carrier for your needs.


So you want to give it a try?


There are several places to buy.  If you want to buy used, I recommend going through the Facebook Swap Page.  There are several “rules” pinned to the top of the page, so please read through them.  They also have an acronym list pinned that will help you as you learn to navigate the swap.

You can also buy carriers online at these websites:
                             Paxbaby
                          Heart-Hugs
                          MarsupialMamas
                             PurpleElm Baby
                             Risaroo
I have also gone directly to the manufacturer and bought from them (just prepare for a long shipment length from this direction, as most of these are European companies).

If you’re on the Swap, below are some terms you will come across:
                FSO: For Sale Only
                FTO: For Trade Only
                FSOT: For Sale or Trade
                BNWT: Brand new with tags
                ISO: In Search of
                DISO: Dream/Desperate In Search of
                MMARO: Make me a reasonable offer
                PP: PayPal
                PPD: Postage Paid Domestic
                PM: Private/Personal Message

 One, final word on cost.  As you begin your search for the right carrier for your family, you may face some sticker shock.  Yes, some of these can get very pricey.  I had a difficult time with that at first.  It was hard for me to understand why a mama would drop $300+ on a "piece of fabric".  As I got more into the community, it became much clearer why these are pricer than what we would normally think to pay.
These are quality products and created to last.  They are designed to be comfortable for the wearer and the wearee.
Many of these wraps are hand woven or limited edition.
These keep their resale value.
now, with that said, spending lots of money isn't a requirement to babywear.  It is very possible to do on a budget.  While I personally haven't spent several hundreds of dollars on a wrap, I know several people who have.  Do what works for your family and budget.

Ultimately, think of it like people who collect purses or coins or designer items.  At its roots, many mamas really just like having these wraps as well, many self proclaiming that they "collect" them in a similar manner. 
Cost should never keep you from wearing.  There are many affordable options available so that you can enjoy having your baby close to you.
It’s a wide, diverse world of wearing.  I will do my best to update with some hints/tricks/carries/reviews in the future, but hopefully this gives you a good starting place so that you can come to enjoy babywearing as much as E and I have!  Let me know if there's a topic I missed or something you want to see in the future.  Thank you for allowing me to share my love of wearing with you!




Merry Wearing!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Parenting doesn't come with a manual

I have a confession to make:

This parenting thing? I really have no clue what I'm doing.  You want to be humbled? Become a mom.
I've always been the person with the answers, the person who can do it herself, miss "has everything together".
Then I became a mom.

Parenthood doesn't come with a manual.

I promise not to get on my soapbox, as we all have opinions, but one thing I want to mention is that part of parenting is learning what works for you.  The reason there are so many child rearing books out there is because there hasn't been one method that suddenly works for every single child.  Part of the adventure in parenting is discovering what works for your child.
With that said, I have my way of doing things as a mom.  Others may do it differently.  Neither is more right or wrong than the other.
It's just what works.

Because, let's be honest, half the time we are pseudo-zombies just trying to function in polite society.  On those occasions when we discover that "VOILA" this works for my child, we're going to hold onto that and go with it....
....even though we know it will change within a week or two.

So this parenting thing?  I have no clue what I'm doing
but it's completely and utterly awesome.
and humbling. seriously humbling.

E is now 15 weeks old and, as you can probably guess from my lack of blogging, taking up most of my spare time.  She is an absolute joy and probably the easiest baby on the planet....and no, I'm not just saying that because I'm her mom and I'm biased...I worked childcare for years, she really is an easy baby.



We are still exclusively breastfeeding minus the pumped milk she gets when I'm at work.  I am incredibly proud of the fact we've made it this far already.  My hope it to make it to at least one year so each day is one step closer to that.  I could get all birth nerd mushy gushy here since I'm a bit obsessed with all things pregnancy/birth/nursing related, but, I'll spare you the sordid details for now.  Just know I'm cherishing every moment that the Lord allows us to continue that part of our relationship.

E now smiles like crazy, laughs out loud (lols?), rolls both directions and reaches for things that she wants.
She is a terrible napper.
Can't win them all, I guess.

She is wearing 3-6 month clothing and doesn't appear to be slowing down in her growth anytime soon.  I'm really looking forward to her 4 month appointment at the end of this month to find out just how big our little miss has gotten.  She's not as rollie pollie as some babies, but she definitely has some chunk on her.
Goodness, I love marshmallow babies.

I have the best alarm clock in the world considering E likes to wake me up by laughing (or punching me in the face, if she's managed to wake me at that magical hour when my zombie self somehow decides that putting her in bed with me will grant me a few extra moments of sleep instead of feeding her and putting her back in her crib).  She is a morning person.
Mommy is not a morning person.
Daddy is a morning person when coffee is involved.
guess who is going to take over mornings when he returns from his deployment?

Each day brings new and exciting adventures.  I can hardly fathom that I am watching the cognitive, emotional, physical and even spiritual development of a tiny human being.  When they say that each day is different, they're completely right.  It's incredible.

The dignified me is long gone.  I will spend an hour making funny noises, dancing like a monkey or blowing raspberries with my mouth if it will garner me a chuckle from little miss.
I haven't worn my hair down since E's newborn pictures.
I put makeup on for the first time when I went back to work.
I'm still in my fat pants.
and it's so awesome.

It's incredible to me how priorities change so much after you become a mom.  I absolutely love my job, but when the hour hits that I get to go pick up my daughter, you better believe that I hustle myself out of there as quickly as I can just so I can hold her.
Even though I know I should put her down for bed earlier, I keep her up until 8:30 or 9, just so I can get a few extra snuggles.

It's not about dressing "cool" or having my hair done perfectly anymore.  It's about what's quick, easy and makes me look somewhat capable of functioning in polite society.   It's learning to laugh at myself when I can't find my cell phone when I'm having a conversation with someone on the other line.  Laughing when I walk into a door frame because I am attempting to entertain a 3 month old while simultaneously getting ready for work.
and it's awesome.

In the past 3 or so months, I have continued to learn and grow in so many incredible ways.  I have learned to suck up my pride and ask for help when I need it.  With K deployed, I had to come to a point of realizing that, while I'd like to think it's possible, I'm just not superwoman, and there was no way I'd be able to take care of mowing.
so I called the squadron and they will be helping with that until he returns.
There have been nights where E won't stop crying and I call my mom or sister crying right along with her just because I need someone to tell me that it's okay.
It's definitely not the easiest thing I've ever done.
I'm stubborn.
Parenting is helping to change that.

Words cannot describe how much I with my husband could be here to enjoy every up and down that this journey has brought.  I try my hardest to send multiple pictures/videos to him per day.  Update him on all the new and exciting things going on with our daughter.  Letting him know that we really are doing okay without him.
but that doesn't mean I haven't cried wishing with my whole heart he could walk this path with us right now.
I cried the first time E smiled because he wasn't able to see it.
I cried the first time I heard her laugh because it was so beautiful that trying to video record it just couldn't convey how beautiful the sound was.
I've cried during 3am feedings when the stress, pressure, anxiety and overwhelming responsibility I have pressing on me constantly is too much to bear.
but I have also learned to lean on the Lord because He is molding us in beautiful ways during this time.

Parenting is a beautiful, scary, overwhelmingly awesome journey.  I can honestly say I have loved every up and down of this adventure so far.  Words cannot describe the love I have for our daughter or the joy that she has brought into my life.

It'd be great if parenthood had a manual, but, then again, I think that would take some of the fun out of it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Becoming a mommy

Today our beautiful daughter is 5 weeks old.
How is it that 6 weeks ago I had never met this tiny human, but today, can't imagine a world without her?  Our sweet, precious E, who has changed every aspect of my life for the better, is already a month old.
The time goes too quickly.

Photo Courtesy of Cherished: Portraits by Michelle
(
http://www.cherishedportraitsbymichelle.com/)

Ten months ago, I became a mother.  We conceived a tiny life.  I grew her in my belly.  Nourished her, protected her, prayed for her.  Loved her.
Five weeks ago, I became a mommy.

I came face to face with this little person who I had grown to love and know over nine months.  I fell in love with her in a new way.
While absolutely terrified about being capable of caring for her, there was nothing in the world that mattered as much as our daughter in that moment.  K and I were (and are) so in love with E.  We were parents, we were responsible for her entire being.
The car ride home from the hospital was one of the scariest of my life.

Little E in her carseat for our ride home from the hospital.  I still can't get over how teeny tiny she was.

But in five weeks time, I have come to understand what it means to be a mother and, even more important, what it means to be a mommy.
Being a mother has allowed me to meet my daughter's needs.  I am able to care for her, change her, clothe her, feed her.  I am able to tell when her cries are cries of hunger or hold me.  I have learned her routine and do my best to keep consistency in our household.
Being a mommy has allowed me to joyfully wake with my daughter late at night when she decides that 3:30am is a wonderful time for a party.  It lets me find no greater joy than simply staring at my daughter's face for hours on end.  It has caused me to go through multiple SD camera cards filled with pictures of my princess. 
It has shown me a whole new kind of love that I never could have fathomed.

A very wise person once told me, "Kim, you will never be a perfect mom, but God has made you the perfect mom for E".
I hold to that truth every day.  I pray that God equips me to be the mother that E needs.  Not the mother of the year, not the June Cleaver mother, not the crunchy mother, not the working mother, not the helicopter mother, not the permissive mother.
Just E's mother.

People are right when they say that you just know what to do when you have a child.  I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to care for her, to know what she needs and to meet those needs.  Yet something just clicked the moment I met her.
I'm not perfect.  There are still days I have no clue what she wants or needs.  I still get flustered and frustrated.  There are still moments when the only thing I know to do is cry.
But in all of that is a love I can't explain.  This sweet, precious life...this gift....is ours.  How blessed we are!

So...what has happened in the last 5 weeks?



E was 8 pounds 4 ounces when she was born.  I weighed her yesterday and we are up to 11 pounds.  As her Auntie Kylie has said, she will be a marshmallow baby!  We're quite thrilled.

She is officially out of newborn sizes.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry a little when I packed those away.  Time goes so quickly.  I feel like it was yesterday she was still in my belly.

We are cloth diapering and loving it.  I can't get over how easy it is and how much money we are saving.  Right now we use mostly prefolds, but once she's a bit bigger, we're going to move to pocket diapers.  I might have a slight problem as our stash is growing larger than what we probably need.  My excuse is that I need to try different kinds of diapers to know exactly what I want to use (or that's what I tell my husband).


I have discovered the joys of babywearing.  E loves being snuggled up close and I love having my hands free.  I'm partial to my Maya ring sling, but have found several carriers that I like.  This might turn into a similar problem like the cloth diapers...


My wonderful sister has spent lots of time with us in the last 5 weeks.  I am so blessed to have her so close right now and enjoy every moment she is able to spare us.  There really isn't anything that compares to a sister.  She has been such a big help and it's great spending the whole day with your best friend!


E is a champion sleeper (you realize that now I've said this, she is going to stop, right?).  She usually only wakes up once per night and sleeps great in her cradle.  I look forward to the mornings though when we get our breakfast in bed snuggles.


Some big news in our family appeared shortly after we arrived home from the hospital.  We will be moving to Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas at the end of this year.  These orders were a bit unexpected, but we are so looking forward to the new adventure.  Because of the knowledge that I won't get a white Christmas this year, I'm not even complaining about the snow we've gotten this week!  I'm nervous, excited and all sorts of in between about the move, but know that God is having us go there for a reason!  What a fun thing to look forward to!

In the last 5 weeks I have also fallen in love with my husband all over again.  I've seen a whole new side to him that I never even imagined existed and, let me tell you, there is nothing more attractive than a man who loves being a daddy.  I have realized how blessed I am to have him in my life and appreciate him so much more.  I really hit the husband jackpot with him!

Sorry ladies, he's taken.

Photo courtesy of Cherished: Portraits by Michelle
(
http://www.cherishedportraitsbymichelle.com/)

Even with everything going on with our sweet little E, we've started yet another chapter in our family's book.  K deployed one week ago, just a few days shy of E's one month birthday.  We miss him terribly but know he will be home in time.  I'm looking at it as an excuse to lose this baby weight and as a free pass to decorate and organize the house as I please (as well as paint our little one's toes without anyone laughing at me)..

Our last family photo for a few months

To be frank, I'm doing much better this deployment than I did for the last one.  I feel like this one snuck up on us with the flurry of having a baby and being pregnant and all.  In all honesty, I tried not to think about it because it would just make me sad.  I'm doing my best not to focus on what K is going to miss during his time away, but instead focusing on all of the exciting things he will get to come home to.  E will be crawling, sitting up, be cutting her teeth, have a little personality, be able to play....what wonderful things for us to look forward to sharing together!
I miss my husband though.  I'd be lying if I said this is easy.  Thankfully, I am blessed to have wonderful friends and family around to help out when things become too much, but no one replaces my husband.  I don't like going to bed alone.  I don't like how quiet the house is.  I miss him teasing me.  I miss his kisses.  I want to share in E's cuteness with him.  She smiled for the first time 3 days after he left.  I cried.

But, truthfully, it's not all bad.  I have spent a lot of time praying about this deployment, asking God to give me the strength to handle it with grace, peace and sanity.  He, as always, has been gracious and given me far beyond that.  I've had several sweet people ask me how I'm doing and seem surprised when I honestly reply that I'm doing just fine.  Yes, I miss him.  Yes, sometimes I'm sad.  But life is too short to dwell on it.  Instead, I give my energy to our daughter, to preserving each moment for my husband in pictures and videos and phone calls.  Cherishing each special second for the both of us.


My role has changed so much in five weeks.  My role as a wife, as an employee, as a friend, as a daughter, as a sister...they have all evolved and will continue to do so as time goes on.

In five weeks, I have learned to love in a whole new way.  I have learned to appreciate my husband on a whole new level.  I have learned to cherish each moment of every day.  I have realized how blessed I am in friendships.  I have gained a new confidence in myself.  I have a deeper trust in the Lord.

and, above all, I have started to learn what it means to be E's mommy

and there is nothing else I'd rather do.  There's no other place I'd rather be.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

E's Birth Story


By popular request, below is the story of our sweet E’s birth.  You have been warned.  If labor stories aren’t your thing, I recommend skipping this particular entry and waiting until the next one which will more than likely involve lots of cute baby pictures and new mommy braggings.

This entry is actually very hard for me to write, not because it’s hard to recall or something I don’t want to share, but because of how deeply it impacted me and how significant it was to me and my husband.  Words truly cannot convey my experience, but I’m going to try.  I think it is important for women to share their labor stories.  Birth is not something to fear.  It can be scary at times, especially because of the unknowns, but God created our bodies to birth and what better way to empower moms than share our experiences, as varied as they all are, so that we can create an atmosphere that is supportive of mothers, respectful of the birth process and that elicits the awe that God’s creation of pregnancy and birth truly deserve.  So, onto attempting to describe the most incredible experience of my life:

Sunday night, January 20th, my sister came over to keep us company.  Bed rest was making me crazy, and I had resigned myself to thinking that E was only coming out when they induced me later in the week due to my preeclampsia.  Kylie was determined to try everything to get things rolling though, so we bounced on my labor ball, walked and even tried using my breast pump to get contractions rolling with no such luck.  It was a nice, relaxing evening, though, and we had lots of fun eating pizza and watching movies—knowing that we still had a few days before a baby would be here.

After she left around 11pm, I decided to go to bed.  Thankfully, I was able to sleep well throughout my pregnancy, but I was uncharacteristically tired that night.  I kissed K goodnight, told him that he might want to come to bed soon, just in case, and went to bed.

True to being almost 40 weeks pregnant, I woke up a few hours later needing to use the bathroom.  It was around 2:15am.  I went to the restroom and as soon as I sat down on the toilet, I heard a “plop”.  I looked in the toilet and didn’t see anything, so I assumed my bladder had just been incredibly full (also a possibility considering I drank like a camel throughout my pregnancy).  K had still not come to bed, so I went downstairs to see if he was going to be on his way soon.

He was still downstairs playing on his computer (attempting to fix his iTunes, if I recall).  I asked when he was coming to bed and he said soon, so I turned around to go back upstairs.  About halfway up the staircase, I felt another small gush of fluid.  Knowing I had just used the bathroom, it was a safe bet that I had not just wet myself.  I went to the bathroom again, sat down, and another gush came out.  That was when it hit me that my water had broken.

I walked back downstairs (you’d think with all of these stairs, my labor would have been shorter!) and told K that my water had broken.  He didn’t believe me at first and asked if I was really sure or if I had just peed myself.  I told him that there was no way it wasn’t my water and that it might be good if he got some sleep since we didn’t know what the morning would bring.  While he went up to our bedroom, I called my midwife and she said to get some sleep and if contractions didn’t start by 9am, to head to the hospital.  She said that they would more than likely start on their own, though, and that she would plan to see me in a couple of hours.

I knew I should have tried to get some sleep, so I went to bed for twenty minutes, but couldn’t relax.  My head was spinning with the reality that we would soon be meeting our daughter.  My sweet husband slept great, but I got up and decided to try some things to get contractions rolling.  I had called our doula shortly after my conversation with the midwife and she gave me some ideas to potentially help.  Kylie was going to be in the labor/delivery room, so I called her as well and she continued to text me throughout the morning, possibly even more excited than I was!

By 7am, my contractions still hadn’t started, so I decided to eat breakfast before waking up K to get ready to head to the hospital.  While I knew I should eat, it was much like my wedding day—nerves were preventing me from wanting to palate much of anything.  I had apple and banana slices with peanut butter.  Probably should have eaten a bit more!

K was still sleeping after I finished breakfast, so I decided to shower and make myself feel pretty knowing I wouldn’t be feeling so attractive in a few short hours.  I picked my favorite warm maternity shirt and jeans.  I even styled my hair!  It helped to kill the time and made me feel cute—which, when you don’t feel well, can make a huge difference.

Here I am at 39 weeks 5 days pregnant.  We were just about ready to head to the hospital.  My water had been broken for about 6 hours at this point.

My husband woke up around 8am and we were on the road by 8:40.  The hospital we chose to deliver at was about 35-40 minutes from our house, which was so worth the drive.  The care and quality of staff and facilities were incredible and I would deliver there again in a heartbeat.  The car ride there was quiet.  We were both tired and trying to wrap our heads around the fact we wouldn’t be coming home alone.

Kylie met us at the hospital.  We walked up to the labor and delivery floor and checked in.  I laughed when the nurses asked whether I “thought” my water had broken and whether I was sure.  Oh, I was very sure!  They took me to our labor suite (thankfully, we got one with a whirlpool tub) and had me change.  I was so excited to wear my hot pink Pretty Pushers gown (and got so many compliments on it too!).

In my Pretty Pushers gown and robe.  Wasn't feeling too much here, so I was bouncing on my ball to see if we could get her to drop some more.

The nurse came in and said she was going to check whether my water had actually broken.  The test came back positive immediately and when she went to check me for dilation, the rest poured out, confirming that I wouldn’t be leaving the hospital without a baby!  At this point, I was still not having any contractions, and my midwife became concerned as something should have started much sooner.  The fact I had also not dilated beyond the 1 ½ cm that I was at my appointment on Friday was also disheartening, so we started on a very low dose of pitocin in order to get things moving.

The nurse came back into the room at this point and asked whether we knew a Sara.  I know lots of Saras, so it didn’t compute to me right away, however, my sister knew immediately who the nurse was talking about.  A long time family friend, who had been my mom’s labor/delivery nurse with my two younger siblings, worked casually at the hospital as a L&D nurse.  Of all days she happened to be working, she was there that day!  When she saw my name on the list of moms delivering, she asked if she could be assigned to us.  What a blessing it was to have her there and seeing a familiar face made the experience all the more wonderful!

Sweet, wonderful Sara.  What a blessing it was to have her as part of our labor experience! 

After my IV was placed and the pitocin was rolling, we started to walk the halls.  There were 12 other women in active labor at the time, so the halls got rather crowded at times.  After a little while of walking, we went back into the room to relax.  My sister put in a movie and I had some chicken broth and crackers since I had become hungry with all that walking (another perk of delivering with the midwives—being able to eat even if I couldn't palate a steak at that point!).

My doula arrived around 2:20pm, even though contractions still hadn’t picked up to the point they were painful.  At this point, they were still more like really annoying menstrual cramps.  We decided to try walking some more.  I put on my robe (those hospitals get cold!) and we walked some more.  I remember laughing a lot, especially as we tried to navigate the IV pole that held the evil pitocin drip.  It’s a miracle we didn’t rip out my IV with all of the laughing, stopping and starting we did.

Around 3, my mother and little sister stopped by for a short visit.  We made it clear we didn’t want a whole bunch of people in the room when I was in labor, but since nothing was really happening yet, we said they could stop by for a few minutes.  I was starting to get uncomfortable, but it wasn’t painful at this point, so it was now or never if they were going to come.  Mom and Reagan didn’t stay long, but it was nice to see them for a few minutes.

Once they left, my doula suggested we start walking again since things still weren’t progressing.  K said he was sure that something would happen by 4 or 5pm.  After 20 minutes of walking, we went back to the room to keep watching a movie.  While the movie played, my doula had me try some more techniques to get things moving.  I did some step ups and more bouncing on my birth ball, and while contractions seemed to be getting stronger, they were still mild, at best.  We walked some more and it was at that point that I noticed things starting to change.

Sweet Sara with the Pitocin pump of death.  I hated that darn thing!

At this point, I wasn’t wanting to talk and laugh anymore.  Contractions were bearable, but definitely hurt and I wanted to focus more on riding each wave rather than entertaining everyone.  There as the suggestion to turn the movie back on to help us relax, but my focus was shifted.  I laid in the bed for a few minutes to try and get E to drop into an even more favorable position, and my midwife came in to check on me again.  She was pleased with how things seemed to be going and said she would be back for the rest of the evening once she had some dinner.  One thing I really appreciated about my midwife was that she always made sure I was okay with something before she did it.  Instead of saying, "I'll be back after dinner" she said "If you're okay with it, I'm going to go get some dinner with my family, but I will be back as soon as we are finished".  I never felt like I was inconveniencing her and instead felt like she wanted to respect what my needs were at that time.  I was also really happy that I did not have to have any cervical checks during this period.  The hospital and nursing staff was incredibly respectful of my desires not to have a bunch of checks, and considering my water had been broken for a long time, it was also going to help reduce the chance of infection to me and my daughter.

Jenda left and I hopped back on my birth ball.  At this point, I asked my sister to play some of my favorite worship songs.  What better way to celebrate bringing life into the world than by praising the God who created life itself?!  The music also helped distract me from the pain that was now accompanying my contractions.  At a certain point during labor, you stop being self conscious.  You stop caring what other people think.  This part of you that you don’t even know exists emerges and you are lost in your own world.  You know people are there, you know they are talking and doing things, but you don’t care.  While sitting on the birth ball, I sang along to the music and would request songs for my sister to find.  A few times, I felt myself getting emotional, not because I was scared or in pain, just because of how incredible and beautiful the situation was.

Kylie being my DJ.  Smiling between contractions.  The cup on the right had the delicious chicken broth...I kid you not, that stuff was great during labor (although I might never actually ask to eat it again like I did that day!)

After spending some time on the ball, we decided to try walking again since things were actually moving along.  I felt the pep in my step was now much more of a determined shuffle (no more power walking and lunging for me).  Instead of being able to walk through my contractions, I had to stop and hold onto the railings as they flowed.  There were several people in the hallways, and I could feel their presence affecting my ability to labor effectively.  While the intensity did not die out, my contractions started to get further apart.  This further solidifies my attitude that labor is a beautiful and private affair.  If you aren’t fully comfortable with your surroundings, you will not progress.

My doula also sensed this and suggested we go back to the room where I could have a bit more privacy.  K was struggling to see me in so much pain, but he wanted to be as supportive as possible.  I hung onto him and swayed during contractions.  Nothing compares to being wrapped in his arms.  My midwife came back into the room and said she was going to check me.  I had dilated to a 3, which was discouraging, but at least I had made some progress.  I was certain things would pick up soon, especially since my contractions continued to intensify.

Rocking through contractions with K.  He was so great during labor--I'm truly blessed with an incredible husband!

During some of my contractions, I had terrible hip pain (thankfully no back labor), so my doula, husband and sister would give me some counterpressure during each wave.  That helped so much.  I remember telling them that I wanted them to go get something to eat since it could be a long evening, so they left in shifts to get food. 

In the next thirty minutes, things really picked up.  I went from being able to tolerate contractions to needing to focus through each.  I was anxiously awaiting being able to use the tub, but knew I didn’t want to get in until I was far enough along to prevent labor from slowing.  My pitocin was continuing to climb and let me tell you, those contractions are no joke.  Coupled with the lack of cushion from my waters being broken, I was definitely feeling challenged but was still determined to have the unmedicated labor I planned and prepared for.

Sara had to leave for the night, and my new nurse Mariah took over.  I was sad to see Sara go, as a familiar face is always a comfort, but knew that things would be okay with the new nurse too.  At this point, my midwife could see how painful things had become and suggested that I get into the tub to help myself relax in order to aid in dilatation.  That tub was the best thing ever!  The warm water was so relaxing and for a long time, my contractions didn’t seem to hurt as badly—even though they were still at the same intensity. 

Finally resting in the tub.  It felt so good to relax!

Around 9:40pm, they checked me again.  I had made it to a 4.  I was pretty discouraged, as contractions were getting more and more intense, but knew that the last few could potentially go fast.  My midwife was encouraging and told me that things would get moving.  She bargained with me and said to make it through 30 more contractions.  Counting to 30 was not fun at this point.  I got horribly nauseous and everyone was sure that I had hit transition, me included.  Listening to my body during this time was another internal moment.  I didn’t care what people thought, and I did what felt natural to me.  I sang through most of my contractions and couple of them brought me to tears.  I remember being conscious of not wanting to be mean during labor, so I used “please and thank you” a lot.  At that moment I remember telling someone to “Shut up….please”.  My contraction pattern was consistent with transition and we were looking forward to finding out that I had progressed.

Surrounded with support as I labored in the tub.  Kylie eventually crawled in behind me to rub my back.  It truly takes a team!

Jenda checked me shortly after I had my 30th contraction.  I found out that I had made no additional progress.  At this point, we realized that E was stuck and that she wasn’t going to be moving on her own.  In order to avoid a c-section, we needed to increase the pitocin even more.  While I had very much wanted to avoid an epidural, at this point, I knew I needed one in order to cope with the increased intensity the pitocin was going to bring.  My pitocin level was far above what normal drips reach, and combined with the lack of sleep, we all determined it was in my best interest to get some relief from the pain. 

I got out of the tub and rode out a few more waves while we waited on the anesthesiologist.  He came in and I could have kissed him.  They got me ready for the epidural and it started working almost immediately.  Unfortunately, I had several “hot spots”, so he had to come back and increase the medication in the epidural.  I was so nervous that I would be paralyzed from it for the rest of my labor and that I wouldn’t be able to feel the urge to push.  I shouldn’t have worried, I was still able to move and feel pressure.  It was very well done!  My doula told me later she forgot I had the epidural for a while!

Enjoying my epidural and finally able to rest.  I was praying at this point that the increased pitocin would help me dilate, as the midwife said we might be looking at a c section if I failed to progress at this point.  The Lord heard my prayers and answered them in a beautiful way!

We all rested for a while, which was helpful.  I dozed, but wasn’t able to sleep well.  By 2am, I had dilated to 10 and baby girl was at 0 station.  We knew it wouldn’t be too much longer.  The nurse emptied my bladder and E went from 0 to +2 immediately.  The sudden drop caused her some distress so they had me move onto my hands and knees to help calm her heart rate.

Jenda went to check the position of E and we realized she was facing the wrong way—yet another reason my labor was not progressing as it should have (and making me all the more thankful that I did not have any back labor).  My midwife reached in, grabbed her little head and turned her manually at that point.  I was very happy I had the epidural, even with it, that maneuver was uncomfortable!

Evil, evil pitocin contractions!

My midwife got the squat bar ready and we started to prep for pushing.  As they got the cart ready, I remember being excited and nervous for this last part.  I was exhausted, but knew that we were almost done.  The squat bar was the best way to push!  I was so nervous that I would be limited because of my epidural, but thankfully, I was still very mobile.  I alternated between that and modified sitting for pushing and E made great progress.

They brought out the mirror for me to watch.  I know a lot of women don’t like to see what’s happening down there (it is a bit of a murder scene!) but I loved watching her get closer and closer to emerging!  Seeing all that dark hair was such an encouragement for me to push!  Surprisingly, I didn’t get tired during pushing.  I felt energized and excited.  I never felt like I was straining or working too hard.  I do remember getting into an argument with my nurse trying to convince her to let me go to the bathroom because I HAD to poop.  She laughed at me and said, “No, you’re pushing out a baby, it feels the same”.  She was right, of course, but at the time, I was convinced I needed to use the bathroom.

After a little less than 45 minutes of occasional pushing (thankfully, we didn’t push every contraction—it was very relaxed), E emerged.  Things quickly turned from relaxed to intensive though when we realized the cord was wrapped tightly around her neck.  My midwife told me to push as hard as I could and get her shoulders out.  Those pushes were much harder for me, but out she came and they quickly unwrapped the cord and began working on getting her to be alert.

Those 30 seconds of silence after her birth were the longest of my life.  She was very blue and I remember my sister telling me that she might need to go to the NICU.  That was the only time during my entire labor I truly felt scared and helpless.  Thankfully, she let out a big scream and let us all know she was just fine.  The midwife told me later that the cord probably wrapped around her after her sudden 0 to +2 station drop.

Meeting our daughter for the first time.

E was born at 3:32am on Tuesday, January 22nd—26 ½ hours after my water broke at 39 weeks 6 days gestation.  I only had two small tears, both a result of the last minute hard pushing I had to do when we discovered she had the cord around her neck.  I was up and moving shortly after delivery, although I wasn’t allowed to be unassisted for a few hours.  I was able to have her on my chest as long as I wanted after delivery, and the nurse waited to take her for vitals until I was ready to pass her to them.  We were able to nurse within the first hour of birth.  Truly, it was a beautiful experience.

Nursing E for the first time--such a beautiful moment!

Did the birth go how I thought it would? No.  I’ll admit that I was somewhat discouraged that I did not achieve an unmedicated birth, but my midwife reassured me that if my labor had progressed how normal labors normally do, that I would have been able to do it without a problem.  This was encouraging for future children—I know I can do it next time.  I know I had no control over my labor not progressing and my daughter’s poor positioning.  I realize now that I never experienced one natural contraction and that my first experience of labor will be vastly different from future pregnancies.  Even so, I had the absolute best labor and delivery I could have imagined in the circumstances.

Jenda, my incredible midwife who was so respectful and honoring of our wishes for the birth and who did everything she could to make that happen, even when things didn't go as planned!  So thankful for her!

Recovery has been incredible.  I am 10 days postpartum and rarely need to take anything for pain.  At the hospital, I was able to be up and moving around frequently.  I had incredible support both there and here at home.  I can almost fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes, and while I’ve lost 20 pounds already, I still have about 18 more to go until I’m back to pre-baby days, but I’m completely fine with that—there’s no rush.

I can’t explain it, but talking about labor and birth and pregnancy is such an empowering and beautiful thing.  Not everyone enjoys talking (or hearing) about it, but I do.  I marvel at how God created our bodies to nurture a life for 9-10 months…how he enabled our bodies to birth and heal…how he’s designed us to be able to nurse and nourish our babies outside of the womb.  What divine design!



Cherishing my sweet daughter.
Photo courtesy of Cherished: Portraits by Michelle (http://www.cherishedportraitsbymichelle.com/)

I loved my birth experience, even thought it didn’t go perfectly according to my plan.  I told K within hours of E’s arrival that I couldn’t wait to do this again.  Mind you, it will be a couple years, but I already miss being pregnant and am looking forward to yet another labor experience.  I only hope that more women can learn to embrace labor and instead of facing it with fear, face it with the confidence that they are strong and capable of giving birth to their children.  It’s an incredible and beautiful thing and I feel blessed that I was able to experience it!  Motherhood truly is the most marvelous adventure and greatest blessing!

Our precious daughter, E.
Photo courtesy of Cherished: Portraits by Michelle (http://www.cherishedportraitsbymichelle.com/
)