Thursday, June 19, 2014

the birthday card I can't send

Dear Leora Mae,

For the past few days, I've been counting down the time until your birthday. Every year, I do the same. Just yesterday, I was informing my sister "Grandma's birthday is tomorrow!" We decided we would celebrate with slushies and that I was super you would approve.

Remember how we went to Dairy Queen so many times just for slushies or Blizzards? So many great treats we enjoyed together...

I miss you like crazy. I have songs on my phone I swear you would LOVE and I wish I could share them with you. Instead, I share them with my children and husband and say "my grandma wpd LOVE this."

I wish you could hold my babies. They're so beautiful. You would laugh as you watch them play and your heart would be full. You were right, Gma, I was meant to be a mom. And you were right, God wouldn't keep me from being one. I have three children now, Gma. I just welcomed home a baby girl 8 weeks ago. 

As I said, I miss you. I miss you every single day, but I see this photo of us and I remember that, while you left "too soon" by world standards, I am incredibly blessed by over twenty years a of movies and love that grew from our relationship. I see countless ways you've influenced my life, and I know so much about you. Unfortunately, so many of my cousins and siblings cannot say the same. I'm a very lucky lady, and I hope I can help you live on down here.


Happy birthday, Gma. Dance with Jesus.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Things I need to tell myself...

No creative title today. Today, I bring you a personal list of sorts, of things I need to tell myself. I need a few reminders, or perspective alterations, to help me improve my mothering on a day I'm not really ready to get up out of bed.

---


1.) Spencer loves the mess out of you



Sure, he's started this new thing recently where every 17.58941 seconds he asks for a hug, and then asks for a kiss, and then turns around to move and asks for a hug, and often asks for another kiss...

Yeah, approximately half the time it is being used as either a stalling technique (you really do need a diaper, Spenk...) or a way to butter me up instead of being frustrated, but, if he didn't love me, he wouldn't be doing it, because he doesn't just hug everybody he meets.  It may be exhausting at times and keep you from accomplishing much of anything in the three spare minutes you have between feeding three mouths and changing three diapers (unless someone goes again in their new, fresh diaper... again), but he's showing he loves you all day long, and he's excited and loves doing it. You best not forget it!

Someday, he won't want hugs and kisses as much, and maybe not at all, so, cherish them now, mommy.

---

2.) Collin is hilarious.



Yes, the way he is short tempered (probably because he refuses to sleep as much as he should) lately and is perfecting the art of half-hour tantrums is enough to drive a mom to buying noise-canceling headphones and hiding in the garage some days, but at the same time, it also is amusing. 

The way he flops his short little body into the floor (or couch, or yard, or playground sand....) so suddenly looks like it could hurt, but he's so graceful about it, and let's face it- it looks ridiculously funny. He makes you laugh 80% of the day at least, so why not up it to 90% of the day and just be used by his upset over a leaf falling on his head, and move on instead of feeling agitated?

Someday, he will be even worse when he's upset, possibly swearing or throwing things and slamming doors like many teenagers do, and you're going to wish it was as simple as belly flopping into sand.

---


3.) The boys are best friends. 



Sure, they spend 3 hours of nap/quiet-time laughing and yelling the words to "Green Eggs & Ham" instead of laying in their beds sleeping, but they love to be together. Heck, half the time you find them sharing a bed. They may get into mischief together, be loud and wild when you're on the phone, or create a scene as they laugh hysterically at one another doing... nothing but shaking their heads in a restaurant, but they love each other.

Someday, they may not get along at all. That really does happen to brothers in some cases. Smile, breathe, and know they're perfect together.

---


4.) Norah needs you. 



She loves you. She wants to be on your chest all the time, feeling your heartbeat. Sure, it seems like she's hungry every nine minutes and nurses for three hours at a time, but she needs you, and you chose to help her grow and thrive by giving yourself to her. She may have been "unplanned" and an incredible surprise, but you you love her no less and from the moment you saw her, you knew she was a perfect addition to your life.  

Someday, she will not need you so intensely, and you will ache and long for those moments where the only thing that could make the world right were the sounds of your heartbeat and the warmth of your skin (just like you did with her brothers). You will miss the image of her tiny fingers searching for and clutching yours as you continue to give her the gift of sustained life. You will miss the way she looks up at you grins her huge, toothless grin, as she fills her tummy at 2am, 3am, and again at 5am. So hold onto those moments now. You'll be free to be busy enough with everything else way too soon.

---

5.) The house is chaos. 



It's messy and loud here during the day, and kids are crying and laughing and hugging and fighting and jumping and sleeping and everything in between. The dishes aren't completely done and you might not have swept yesterday, who knows. It wi get clean enough to keep you safe and hopefully sane, and the craziness will die down around 10 (or maybe 11:30) tonight, you will have a snack and some milk, and watch a little tv before going to bed and hopefully getting at least a nap before doing it all again. 

Someday, your children will all be gone, living elsewhere and maybe starting families of their own. You will be lonely, missing their laughter and their cries. So take it all in and remember these years fly by too quickly. 

---

Okay, momma. Time to face the day. You got this.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A month has flown by!

Today, (or technically yesterday since it is after midnight now) marks one month since I first peered into Norah's eyes.

Yes, my newborn baby girl is a month old. 

The month has flown by so quickly. I know that's an overused phrase, but it is quite fitting. Also, I'm exhausted, and I'm finding trouble thinking of a more poetic phrase. Yes, tonight, the post will lack my typical style of writing. See... Wow.

It's amazing to me that 30 days have passed since Collin began his role of a big brother and Spencer first said "hi, baby sister!" I look back at her birth day and find myself swelling with both pride and disbelief that I went through without an epidural. That it was only approximately a 6 hour time frame from the beginning of the pitocin to hearing her first breath seems like the blink of am eye compared to the month of having her breathing in our arms.

Things have been changing around here, obviously. I used to pride myself on being on time and early for things, but I forget that having a newborn makes it a bit more challenging with a slightly (some days more than slightly) unpredictable schedule. I've been trying to show myself more grace and lenience in that area so I'm not frustrated when instead of making it to early church, the five of us go to the second service, or when we arrive 30 minutes "late" for a play date.

Nursing is going well, but the boys are a challenge there. If I'm lucky, they play nicely in the living room while I feed her. Often times, though, they're off creating mischief (anyone want to unravel a new spool of thread around the house?) and taking advantage of the situation. Sometimes, they take my nursing as an invitation to try to crawl up my back or sit on my arms. It's kind of a circus here at times. 

Collin has become more aware of Norah and is generally cautious around her instead of accidentally sitting on her feet and such.

Spencer loves to hold her. He also songs to her, consoles her, and offers her his favorite books (so adorable, and so unhelpful as it occasionally angers her more) or a pacifier if she cries. He speaks to her in the same tone and phrasing a that I use. It melts my heart.

Otherwise, things are shockingly... Normal. It doesn't always feel like a lot has changed yet. The boys have transitioned quite well, now even sharing a bedroom, and Collin being in a toddler bed. Heck, twice in three days we have found them nestled up beside each other in bed (or the crib, the first day), asleep at nap time. I wonder if this month has brought them closer.

Unfortunately, knowing a month has already passed, I know soon I will be returning to work. But, I'll write on that topic another time.

For now, I bid you adieu, and leave you with this photo of Norah and I taken today. She's already over 11 pounds, she holds her head up frequently and for minutes at a time. She's alert, tracks us as we move, and is starting to make "babbling" noises.  She is quite active, loves to "stand" when she is nestled against your chest as you sit, and moves back and forth across your chest. She sits well (assisted obviously) and already is beginning to attempt some scooting while doing tummy time. She loves being on her tummy. For the most part, she's very laid back, and super sweet and snuggly.



We all love her.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bring them back!

I am ashamed to admit this, but I feel it important, at the same time to do so...

Up until a few minutes ago, I had absolutely no idea what this was about:  



Yeah.  The simple rundown as I understand it from my limited research as of now:
250 teenage girls were kidnapped from their school by men disguised in military uniforms and they are to be sold as sex slaves.

They're being sold as "wives" to be "married" which is a complete defilement of both words and I refuse to give credence to the notion that these girls are  either wives or married because it's completely against their will. 

It shouldn't matter where these girls were. No one should ever be stolen. No one should ever be sold. But, for those that find those details of utmost importance, they were kidnapped from a boarding school in Nigeria. They, against what their society says is okay, against the odds, put their all into succeeding, and were in high school. They were pursuing big dreams- successfully.

And in the night, it was all ripped from underneath them. They were trusting these "military" men with their safety, only to have their school burned and their lives taken from their control. A few have escaped, but most are STILL missing.

This all happened on April 14, 2014.

That night, I was safe in my home in the early stages of labor, preparing for the arrival of my daughter.

Tonight, I learned, three weeks later, about this crime. THREE WEEKS. I was sitting in my rocking chair in my living room, nursing my three-week old daughter, as I read about #bringbackourgirls and goosebumps and chills invaded my body. I felt sick to my stomach.

Here I was, holding my baby girl, cuddling and loving on her, wondering what she will be like in the future, reveling in my hopes and dreams for her... And I read of 250 baby girls across the sea who were ripped away from their own mommas, their own hopes and dreams, their own lives, by, pardon me, some evil rotten scumbags wanting to make a buck. Some men with no respect for the sanctity of life stole these girls. 

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine stealing these girls? Can you imagine being one of those girls? Can you imagine that girl was your baby?

She is OUR GIRL. They ARE OUR GIRLS.

We belong to each other.

#BRINGBACKOURGIRLS

Here's a link to sign a petition that the US step up. We are a "power country." Let's use the power for good. 


My three-week old baby may have no real power over the situation, but it's my goal to raise her to be a compassionate, caring, empowered woman who knows the intrinsic value of all humans. So, with that in mind, she's taking a stand, too.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boo, Baby Norah!

On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, our third little miracle, Baby Boo, joined the world.

Here's her birth story. If birth stories make you squeamish, read no further, though I'll keep it as graphic-free as possible.

Norah Rachelle joined our family on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 2:42pm. She weighed 9 pounds and was 21 inches talk upon arrival. 

At my midwife appointment on Monday, I was 40 weeks, 3 days gestation. I had not slept in over a week due to nightly contractions and other discomforts. So, when I was checked and nearly 4cm, a sweep was done to try to jump start labor. I was measuring well and she was moving well, but everything was favorable for induction. So, if I was not already admitted into the hospital overnight, at 7am on Tuesday, I was to check-in for induction.

Well, despite some contraction increase overnight, the sweep didn't really jump start anything, so after yet another night of about 3 hours sleep, Jake and I headed to the hospital. I felt pretty calm about the entire idea, with an odd combination of relief knowing she would soon be here, and anxiety over the fact that for the third time in four years, much sooner than we had planned, I was about to be going through the childbirth process again. When I was being induced with the boys, I didn't have the anxiety as much, and after much personal reflection, I decided it was likely because they were very much planned, whereas this pregnancy was a mind-blowing surprise. I just wasn't really prepared yet.

Paradoxes aside, here we were, getting ready for the arrival of child number three.

Our nurse was a friendly face we both recognized, though we couldn't initially pinpoint why. Later on, after Norah arrived, she said she checked and saw that she was one of the nurses during Collin's labor! So cool.

Initially, upon being hooked up to the monitors and checked, I was having somewhat sporadic contractions (still) and by this point was 4.5cm. So, the iv was placed and pitocin started. 

I walked 1/4 mile. Sat around. Walked another 1/4 mile. Attempted to nap. Walked 1/4 mile. Text some friends. 

Came back and was monitored a whole. Checked and was at 7cm. Woohoo! At this point the contractions were every 2-3 minutes and really starting to hurt. My hips were taking the brunt of it, it seemed, and when walking with then it felt like they were going to possibly crack in half. Fun times. So, I decided walking was done. Jake and I relaxed and had some lunch, and at noon-thirty-ish, my midwife came by to check on me and break my water. 

It didn't take long for the contractions to really pick up in intensity and frequency despite the pitocin being decreased by half. And good golly, that was wretched. I had come into the hospital with an "open" birth plan, meaning I was just going to see how things went with no real plan at all. It was pretty much the same plan I had with the boys, and it just works very well for me. This time, I decided that I was going to probably go without an epidural, because with Spencer, it wore off way top early and I felt pretty much everything by birth time anyway, and with Collin, I waited too long for it to actually kick in and I delivered before it was really useful.

So, as the contractions worsened and I thought my hips might shatter and my back might snap, I moved to the tub. My nurse said it would likely help with the hip and back pain as well as the increase of pressure with each contraction. 

I think she was probably right. At least at first, she was. I sat in the tub for I don't know how long. After a while though, I thought I was going to be super sick, and so i got out and went back to the bed. 

I could hardly concentrate on breathing at this point, but was at 8.5cm, so I knew  it was getting close to the end. The pressure and pain was so intense I thought I was going to lose my mind and I could hardly think straight, so the nurse offered me a dose of Fetinol at 2:15pm.  I think that's what it is called anyway... as she said it might help with my hips and back. 

Well... It made me feel like I was drunk and dizzy and not much else. Things hurt just as bad, so I changed positions on the bed, and it just continued to intensify.  I was to the point of tears and fear that I wouldn't be able to finish going through with it all, not that I realistically had a choice. It was at this time that my midwife told me I could push.

But... I couldn't. I honestly could not figure out how. I was on my knees upright and just could not process in my mind how to do it, even though she was coaching me through, so I panicked. I started crying and stating I couldn't figure out how and was shaking and nearly hyperventilating.

Jake was across the room in shock, I think, that it was so close to happening, and I cried terrified for him to come to my side.

So, I resorted to the way I had the boys, "normal" fashion, on the bed. But it was still so intense that it took me a contraction or maybe two to figure out how to get my body to do what it needed to.

Then, I pushed through two contractions. Everyone in the room told me it was a short process, realistically, probably about 5 minutes. But it felt like the most painfully agonizing period of my life and I was unsure it would ever end. I cried out that I didn't know if I could do it. I begged for help. But at the end of the two contractions, she was already born.

My first words to Jake were "is she really a girl?!" I guess, deep down, I really did have worries they were wrong and we would have a baby boy and no infant boy things. I think my heart skipped a beat when Jake paused a second before saying "yes," with a giant grin. Turns out he was in shock it happened as quickly as it did and he was not mentally prepared for her to be here already, and she came out facing downward so he hadn't even seen yet. Haha.

I also asked nearly immediately after, if I could take a good nap on Subday, and a Reese's blizzard. Jake promised I could, and I'm pretty sure the whole room laughed at me. 

They placed her on my chest, and I proclaimed to the room how "wretched" and "horrific" and "absolutely horrible" that was to go through with basically no pain medication. Jake told me over and over how great and amazing and wonderful I did, and how awesome it was that it was so fast. I just couldn't believe how much it hurt, and how I actually did it. 



I held her to my chest for a while. I don't know exactly how long, as she cried a minute, and then just looked at me. Jake and I both just gazed at her, still somewhat in disbelief that we had a daughter. We greeted her, kissed her, told her she was beautiful. I told her that some day, she would understand how much I went through to bring her into our family and just how hard that process is. We laughed. 



Eventually, they took her to clean her to and weigh and measure her. She nursed a while. Daddy held her the first time and grinned with tear-brimmed eyes as she cried at him. And we fell in love.

So far, she's been a fairly happy little girl. She's a good eater and sleeps through most of the noises the boys have made while visiting. Her brothers seem to like her well enough. Spencer is excited to talk about her and point her out to people. He calls her "baby Norah" and "baby sister." Collin, with daddy's help, held her. Spencer, as expected, refused.

I'm excited for she and I to join all of our boys at home tomorrow.



Norah Rachelle is a name that carried a lot of significance. Nora is a name on my mom's side of the family, through her mother, who was one of my best friends, that has been used somewhat frequently in multiple generations as a middle name. We added an H to the end as a way to honor one of my very best friends and beloved cousin, Tarah, who has an H. Rachelle, pronounced a bit like Ray-She'll, is a name we chose to combine the names of the two women friends that have been like sisters to me for the longest periods of time in my life, Michelle and Desirae. I do not know if either will ever have a daughter, but I love being able to honor our friendships this way.



Thank you to everyone for all of the well-wishes, thoughts, visits, and prayers!  We are open to visitors at home as well!