Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What my faith has taught me about being a Mother...

Well hello there, it has been how many months since my last blog post? I will not try to catch my readers up with photos because we all know I take a million and most of you can see those on my Facebook Page! SO much has happened in the past 9-10 months!

My life as a mama to two children under the age of 3.5 has been a ball of every emotion you can think of. Most days I feel completely and utterly blessed and thankful, but only when I stop myself in the midst of the chaos to breathe. Although, the moments in between where I'm stepping on bunny crackers and trying to keep Levi from beating up Lily, I am asking God, "Are you sure I can do this!?"

The truth is, I don't have myself together. Most days I look like a homeless person. I lose my patience with my kiddos. I think about the days where they won't fight going to bed, can put on their own clothes, can entertain themselves, can feed themselves, and you know- stop touching me for 5 minutes.  Those thoughts cross my mind almost every day. The worst is when people tell you to enjoy this time because it will fly by in an instant. That is a given. The exhaustion that comes with being a mama is just that. Exhaustion. That does not mean I am not enjoying this season of my kiddos' life. Having two little ones is HARD work. Yes, its work. It is hard on my body, my mind, my soul. Sometimes I have no clue what I'm doing. Every. Single. Day I am faced with a new phase, challenge, situation that I have not dealt with before. I am learning every day. I ask myself that brutal question- am I a bad mom? at least a few times a day.

But what can I say for certain? God really chose these kiddos for me. I believe that with every ounce of my soul. They were mine before I ever dreamt they were mine. God hand picked Levi and Lily for me. He knows my heart, my soul, my strengths and weaknesses, and still made me a mother. He knew I'd have bad days and still gave those babies to me. If God knows I'm worthy enough to be a mother to L and L then why is it so hard for me to embrace that? I question myself every single day. Satan floods my reactions the minute my blood pressure starts rising or my patience is being tested. My kids have seen mean mommy more times than my heart can stand. I can't say how many times I've lost my cool then just balled my eyes out in the bathroom because I feel like I failed and took a piece of innocence from my children they can't get back.

But what is really going on here?

I'm responsible for the swirling doubt, fear and second guessing that goes on in my mind. Me and Satan. I need to lock arms with God and say "I will take deep breaths today before acting or speaking to my children, I will show love, I will model strength, patience and love to my children, because that's what You give me." The only way I can do that is by closing the door on Satan and opening the door to Jesus. When I am intentional about my feelings and the pull Satan has on my reactions to my kids, I feel like a rockstar. I am able to breathe, get on my children's level, and teach them in a Godly way. No crying, screaming, tantrums, fighting and chaos is to be the product of teaming up with Jesus. I have confidence, patience and purity when I am intentional and that is the only role model I want to be for my kids.

This year has been a roller coaster. Very few people know the steeps and valleys of this past year, but through it my faith has taught me so much. This is one of the areas I have been strengthened in. Having two kids is a lot of work. Balancing the needs, phases, expectations and personalities of two children is a project in itself. But God wants me to be an amazing mother. That doesn't mean every day will be rainbows if I embrace Jesus before a tantrum.

What it means is God knows I'm worthy. And He knows I'm meant to be a mother, and he reassures me every single day and night when Levi tells me out of the blue, "I love you so much mommy" and kisses me. Or when Lily just plops her head onto my shoulder throughout the day, holding on tight, or the way her face lights up when I walk in a room and say, "Hi pretty girl!" Those are the ways I know my kids love me. God gives me those reminders daily.

Its freaking hard most days juggling two little ones, as I just said ten times above. But- keep the faith that God will guide you if you let him! God gives us grace for the times we fall and mess up. He softens us and teaches us through those falls how to get back up again, chase your child around the house as a tickle monster, and have some fun being a mom! It doesn't have to be as stressful as we let it be.

My goal this week is to practice being more intentional with my kids. I want to be in tune with them by being in tune with Jesus. I want to ask God for what I need to embrace this season of my life. I want to shut Satan out and not let him have control over my emotions, reactions and words to my children. I want to give that control to God and let him guide me. I also want to pray for my children and my home as well.

I challenge my mamas to do the same in a way that works for you. Be intentional. Yes- we all know they grow so fast, but that doesn't mean you can't be exhausted, scared, frustrated or stressed out. Give that to God, and ask for what you need to be the Mother you are meant to be. Be present and aware of the words, body language and experiences you give your children throughout the day. Will your arms be locked with Jesus?

- Hope

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

They grow up...

Life, slow down. My boy is three and my girl is 3 months. Sometimes I just want to lay under the covers, make a little fort and eat breakfast in bed with these two. Maybe I just will. After I complete my Midterms. Its inevitable. They grow up. And us  Mamas can't do anything about it.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Our life as 4

I can't believe Lily is 9 weeks old, and Levi turns three next week. It blows my mind.
As of late, we have adjusted very nicely into our lives as four.

Levi is in the whirlwind of the terrible twos/almost threes. Sometimes it is so defeating. I take a gentle approach to parenting. I do not believe in spanking/fearing your child to get them to listen. Because of that I do a lot of talking, calm time, and deep breaths with Levi. Some days it works like a charm, other days he gives me an evil eye and throws his food on the floor for the fifth time without taking his eye off me. After all my schooling in the area of development for kids infancy-middle school, I know this is normal. I know its how toddlers develop and autonomy is a big thing right now. Some days I just question myself and wonder if I'm doing the best that I can as far as teaching/disciplining him. Its worse feeling judged by others when I am doing everything I can to be patient and calm with him. Some people think I should just spank him. Others think I do it all wrong. Some agree with me. Either way its easy to feel alone in this whole process, this whole portion of parenting. I see a lot of strides regarding Levi's behavior. The thing we deal with most is lack of impulse control. He'll just get frustrated and throw things. He is having trouble sleeping lately. He will just get up in the middle of the night for no reason at all. He cries when its nap time. Some days are bliss and things are great. Other days, I want to cry and pull my hair out. But he is still such a sweetie pie. He is still a mama's boy. He still looks for the moon every night. He lays in the grass and counts the airplanes in the sky. He is my little nature boy. His vocabulary has grown SO MUCH in the past 5 months or so. Watching him grow is so rewarding. I love that boy.

Lily is a gem. I'm not big on making babies stick to a schedule, but if it works for them then follow their lead. Ever since Lily was about 3-4 weeks, her schedule started adapting to Levi's and we just went with it. Now she bathes, eats and is in bed by 8:30 just like Levi. She sleeps until about 5 am and is up to eat. Then falls right back to sleep until about 8-9 am. Just like Levi did when he was a baby. As far as breastfeeding, I don't want to talk too much about it-as I am still a little disappointed in myself a little. Its a hard thing to swallow that it didn't work for us/for me-for the second time. The pain was excruciating and unfortunately with only two weeks until school started up for me I didn't have the time to be extremely patient. I would pump for an hour and still be extremely engorged. Levi and Lily would be crying this whole hour. Then I would be crying. It was just too much. We were all happier with the switch to bottle feeding. Now do I get a little sad when I see Mama's breastfeeding? Yes. I wish I was able to have more time home with her to get it down. I loved the idea of having that bond with Lily during my whole pregnancy. The first day was bliss. She was a champ. I will forever cherish those memories and the bonding her and I shared, just us two, from the minute she was born until the minute we switched to a bottle. She is doing great on the Earth's Best Organic formula and I couldn't be happier with how well she does it. She is so smiley and "talkative". She is such a cuddle bug, and is doing so much better during the day. She used to be so restless during the day. Now she naps 2-3 really long naps-about 2-3 hours, and cat naps throughout. She even likes her swing now-thank god. I baby wear a lot. It gives me the bonding I don't get through breastfeeding and we even do skin to skin with the wrap sometimes. I love that little girl to pieces. She is amazing.

I think having a new baby takes a toll on your marriage. It ain't been easy adjusting-especially living at Josh's moms-that's a whole box of stress that is just piled on. But we are finally at ease, and things are in a sweet spot. We are enjoying our life as four. And things are just easier these days. God has truly put a light in our lives, and we are blessed. Through the good and the bad, I am so happy to have Josh by my side through it all.

Josh and I both celebrated birthdays too!

Enjoy some pictures of the past-uh, 9 weeks? :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

She is here! |My Birth Story|

Lily Rain born on her due date July 29th at 8:08 a.m. 7 lbs 4 oz, 20 inches long- little sweetie pie.

I don't think I will ever forget this day, as it was the most beautiful thing I have ever been a part of. But since I am an avid journal and memory keeper,- I want to write it down just in case the details seem blurry one day.

So here goes-
Monday July 28th- 39 weeks and 6 days I am at the Midwife's office being seen by Emily. I was a little nervous going into my appointment, curious to see if I made progression since the week before ( 1.5 cm dilated, 60% effaced, -3 Station) Emily and I discussed the C-Section I had scheduled a week from my due date and I was sick to my stomach thinking it would get to that point where I had to force Lily to come out. All I wanted as a whole was for her to come when she was ready, and when God intended her to. Emily and I then planned on an option that still left me weary but sat better with me: A scheduled induction rather than a C-Section for the following Tuesday. She then checked me and I was a 3, still 60% and now a -2 Station. Emily mentioned Lily still being high and it might be hard to break my water and pitocin would be needed to move things along the next week if it got to that. I was so bummed. She stripped my membranes (HOLY OW) and we joked that if it worked it would work in the next 24 hours and she was on call the next day, and would love to deliver my babe.

I left the office discouraged.
I prayed for peace and still had high hopes Lily would come on her own.

Emily and I mentioned natural ways to help labor commence and it would only work if my body and baby were ready. I decided to try out my pump later that afternoon. It brought on contractions but nothing consistent. I then tried acupressure on my hand, ankle and pinky toes. (The pinky toe points work for real!)

I decided to take Levi on a walk to the park, at this point it was 7 pm. I had  few contractions on the way to and from the park and decided to note them in my phone. (I was supposed to call when my contractions were 8-10 minutes apart, since I was attempting a VBAC, I needed to be monitored sooner to make sure Lily's heart rate stayed normal) Nothing was too consistent. I had dinner, then decided to go on another walk. When I got back I put Levi to bed and the thought that this could be my last night tucking him in made me excited and nervous and sad all at the same time. I wasn't getting too hopeful though. This could be false labor, right?

I tried my pump again at 8:45. This time the contractions were coming pretty consistent so Josh told me I should quit the pump to see if they kept up afterwards. At this time we were joking about how this could be it, but it couldn't be, right?

I decided to shower, shave my legs and straighten my hair... JUST IN CASE!

At this point- 9:30 pm, Josh decided to head to bed and I did too. Afterall, I would know if this was real labor if the contractions kept up while I was laying down. They did. I was keeping the times written down in my phone and kept second guessing myself. I remember one contraction would be 7 minutes apart, then the next one would be 11 minutes apart. I was thinking well 11 minutes isn't 8-10 minutes so that one doesn't count. I was praying for stronger contractions so I would know if it was real.

Finally after putting it off for a few hours I made a call to the midwife on call, Pat. around 12 a.m. She asked me if I thought it was the real thing, and I thought I don't know! That's why I'm calling! Haha. My stomach was in knots, was I really ready for this!? Pat told me to go ahead and head in to triage and get checked.

I went to wake up Josh, who was being such a sleepy head. He obviously didn't think I was serious, but I started getting more nervous. After getting off the phone with Pat, I started packing all our stuff and getting things ready to go to the car, and the contractions were then progressing to 7-8 minutes apart. I was telling Josh with more urgency to get the heck up we needed to go. I was so concerned about waiting at this point, because I wanted to make sure my Lily was okay and handling the contractions okay. (Uterine rupture was playing in my mind over and over-even the less than 2% it happens to, I wanted to be in the hospital right away in case!)

After Josh's lengthy shower we finally got in the car. We left a note out for his mom and let her know that my mom would be by at 6:45 a.m. to pick up Levi, but we didn't want to wake her in case it wasn't the real thing. Pshhh...

The drive was pretty typical. Bumpy roads hurt like hell, the contractions were now 5-7 minutes apart and the intensity kicked up a few notches. Josh wasn't driving fast enough, then he was driving too slow. The thought of being pulled over for speeding and prolonging our time to get to the hospital made my stomach turn even more.

We finally park and the damn Main Entrance was locked! We had to walk into another entrance, get a security guard to walk us to the front and unlock the door for us. Talk about frustrating. Then he so kindly took us to the maternity floor so I immediately was grateful as we never took a hospital tour.

Then lovely triage. The lady took forever to check me in even though my pre-registration had been completed for weeks. Once I get into triage, the contractions were very intense, but manageable to where I could lay in bed. I got monitors put on my belly to check Lily's heartbeat. I had to lay there for 20 minutes and the nurse would come back to check me and decide if I would stay or go home. I immediately said, just so you know the epidural is in my birth plan and I expect it ASAP. That's how bad the contractions were. She checked me, I was only 3 cm-bummed I prayed that within the next 20 minutes I would be a 4 so I could be checked in and get the epidural. Within the 20 minutes of being monitored, Josh snoozed and I was gritting my teeth in bed when all of a sudden I had to run to the bathroom and throw up. I chalked it up to nerves. The nurse came back in and said Pat wants you to walk for 20 minutes to make sure you're progressing and I'll check you after that 20 minutes. At this point the thought of walking was unimaginable. 20 minutes ago I was 3 cm so I needed to get my butt up and walk so I would be a 4! That's all I kept thinking. As soon as we got to the hallway, I was having contractions on top of each other with literally 20 second breaks. As soon as I went to take 2 steps another contraction would come on. These contractions were no joke. I had no idea how to manage them. I gripped the hallway rails and literally was moaning so loud, kind of screaming/crying. I kept telling Josh that something was wrong, there was no way it should hurt this bad at 3cm. He encouraged me to keep walking, but I couldn't. I was feeling burning down the back of my legs, my back was on fire, my uterus was contracting and the feeling was the worst pain I've ever had in my life. The nurses were all at their station listening to me in pain. I kept thinking surely they hear me and will know this isn't normal and will come give me the epidural. I was shaky, could barely stand and Josh had no idea what to do. I had no idea what to tell him to do. I DID NOT TAKE NATURAL BIRTH CLASSES FOR A REASON-it was not in my birth plan! All I could do was put my entire weight into those hallway rails and moan loudly. In between contractions I tried to tell myself I could get through it and I would have a break in between. Finally after about 15 minutes of this my triage nurse said, Honey let's check you, you sound like you're in pain- DUH! I'm not a wimp, this was on a whole different level. She asked me to get in bed, I pleaded for her to check me standing up, but she told me I needed to get up in bed real quick. Low and behold she shoves her hand up there and the look on her face is something I will never forget. She said...

Oh my gosh, you have a bulging bag and you're a 9.
I immediately screamed, no! I need the epidural I can't do this! Then a contraction came on and I said, omg she is coming out right now, I have to push! The nurse said, NO! Don't push, you need to blow like you're blowing out a candle. I started blowing candles out left and right. I was then rushed to the delivery room. The nurse called Pat and said, Are you here? Yeah she went from a 3 to a 9 in 25 minutes, you need to get here ASAP.

In the meantime I am transferred to another bed, nurses flooded the room, they were setting up the baby bassinet, throwing on gloves, putting masks on, checking the monitors etc. Poor Josh was pale and shaking. I was still laying down kind of. I was so scared to switch positions. Nurses came in and introduced themselves and I just stared at the light trying to blow candles out. Josh was on my left, another nurse whom I can't remember her name was on my right. I was squeezing Josh's hand and asking him to push against me really hard so I could push back. He ended up asking a nurse named Heidi (An angel sent from above) to take over for a second because he thought he was going  to pass out. Heidi came to my left side and immediately told me how to breathe- once again I had no idea what the heck I was doing-I was not prepared for this. Somehow I was able to breathe into her, squeezing her hand and getting through each contraction. Finally Pat came in. I remember saying Pat- Epidural, remember I was supposed to get one at 5cm! She said honey, let me check you-I'm afraid you may too far along for the epidural to take. It may just prolong your labor with no pain relief. I said, can we please try? I can't do this, I promise! She checked me and said, you're fully effaced and 9.5 cm, are you sure you don't want me to break your water, and just get this over with? I said let me think about it. Another contraction came, and after it was over I said I want the epidural. She called anesthesia and they came in very fast actually to my surprise. Nurses kept telling me if I broke my water, I could have her within 30 minutes in my arms. I didn't care. I wanted to try for pain relief.

The anesthesiologist, I'll call her grumpy pants, told me I needed to swing my legs off the side of the bed and sit up straight. I was signing waivers with my eyes closed, trying to breathe and agreeing to the fact that I could die. Grumpy pants told me I needed to arch my back and sit very still. Well another angel sent from above, I cannot remember this nurse's name, stood right in front of me- I told grumpy pants hold on I'm having a contraction- I was literally bear hugging this nurse off the edge of the bed, breathing very loudly into her neck. This happened a few more times and grumpy pants told me I needed to sit still through a contraction or she wasn't going to attempt this. Finally I arched my back and told her to hurry. Having a contraction at 9.5 cm having to sit very still, straight up with feet hanging off the side of a bed was the worst thing in life. The nurse in front of me put her forehead to mine and told me to push with my head and squeeze her hand, but try to stay very still. Somehow I did. I was given a spinal tap to take the edge off first, and it takes quicker than an epidural. A contraction started to come on, I started to bear hug this nurse, started my breathing, then all of a sudden the contraction tapered off. I sat up straight with the biggest smile and said, wait-did it work!? Does that mean it worked!? Grumpy pants was then not so grumpy, laughed and said yes-good job! Now I am going to give you the epidural with a pump so you can control how much you get. I gladly said okay! And let me tell you. The relief is out of this world. As much as the contractions hurt, the relief felt just as good. I laid back, smiled and could finally breathe and relax my body. Pat broke my water then told me Lily was at a 0 station and still needed to come down, so she was going to leave and let me labor down for a few hours and Emily would be on shift. I was so excited for Emily to be coming in. She was always very for me having a vbac, and knew and understood how important it was to me. As were the other midwives, but Emily paid extra attention to my desire for it during my appointments with her. I was able to move my toes and legs which was something I couldn't do with Levi on the epidural.

I was so relaxed. I finally asked how Lily was doing and how she handled the whole labor and the nurse told me she's done amazing and her heart rate has been perfect. I was so relieved, I was on my way to a VBAC. I did get a fever though and the nurses started to show a little concern. (I was terrified when I heard this because with Levi I got a fever at 9 cm and so did he and I ended up in a C Section) Emily came in and immediately eased my fears and said, I would get you pushing before I sent you in for a C Section. I loved her for that. She was making this happen for me!

7:50 a.m. came along and Emily had me do a few practice pushes and told me how to breathe. I woke up Josh and told him it was time to push. He came up behind me with the camera and wiped his sleepy eyes. I immediately got emotional. The realization that my Lily did this all on her own, came down on her own and was finally ready-I couldn't have asked for anything more. That's all I wanted all along.I loved my decision even more for getting the epidural. It allowed me to relax and relish in what was happening. Everything was so calm and quiet.

The nurses dimmed the lights, unbuttoned my gown so I could have her on my skin right away.
I pushed once, Emily told me to feel her head, I giggled at the feeling of it!
She told me the "ring of fire" was next to get her head out. I had feeling down there, but more so pressure than pain-which I was grateful to not be completely numb. I could tell what I was doing.

I pushed again and her head was out. Emily and the nurses were so encouraging during this time.
Emily told me to listen to her carefully so I wouldn't tear. She told me to push again, then slow down, I hung onto every word. I wanted to do this right!

She told me to put my hands down there, and with the next push pull my Lily out. With help from another nurse I pushed and out came her body and I pulled her onto my chest.

I'm tearing up thinking about that feeling. I don't think I'll ever forget that moment. Lily was here. Big eyed, crying the sweetest softest cry, and immediately latched on and just stared up at me. It was beautiful. And my miracle. It felt so natural to have her on me, warm, wet and eating right away. I could not believe what just happened. Tears were streaming, and Emily said, you just had a VBAC! She's beautiful! I still can't believe it. I think women who want to have a VBAC very bad hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Its inevitable during any birth to think of the worst, but even more so when a repeat c-section is the last thing you want.

The nurses left us alone, just us three. Emily then came and delivered my placenta and told me I didn't tear! I did have a little laceration but it didn't need stitches. That alone was a shock to me. Everything that happened, was how it was meant to be. And that alone sent peace washing over me. I couldn't believe my body actually did this. I couldn't believe how good I felt afterwards, how normal I felt. I really felt like I could just get up and walk around no problem.

After Lily had some skin to skin and was checked by the nurses (which was all done with her on my chest, including her vitamin k vaccine) Josh went and got Levi. I wanted Levi to be the first one to meet his sister, and seeing him walk in with Josh brought on another flood of tears. Our lives were forever changed in an instant, and our hearts grew bigger without thinking twice. Lily was the new baby of the family and Levi sat right next to me, hung onto my arm and just smiled. He did say bye bye baby, which for the first time made me laugh and I knew he would be an amazing big brother and I just pictured her tagging along for years to come.

Then my Mom, Dad, Hannah and Holly came in to meet Lily. They were all taken aback by my experience and how beautiful she was.

She is already loved by so many. I cannot imagine my days before her and my heart has definitely created space for her.

Although my labor was very speedy and scary, I don't regret the team at Columbus Midwives for my care, and especially my decisions I made even at 9.5 cm. I am so grateful for my experience and it was a day I will never forget.

{P.s. Now I know why I wanted a birth photographer. Keeping my 50 mm lens on for my Husband to use was not the best idea. As every picture is either blurry or way too close. But bless his heart for trying!}

Life with Lily has been an adjustment for all of us. She pretty much sleeps, poops and eats. She is over her birth weight and is doing 4-5 hour stretches through the night. No complaining here!

 In a weird way it seems like she's always been a part of our family. Levi had a really rough first 2-3 days, but has turned around and the difference is night and day. I would almost leave them alone in a room together, almost ;) Give it another two weeks and this kid will be absolutely smitten with his little sis.

This was the longest post in history.