anticipating adventures…

Adventure is here.  My baby sister is just weeks away from meeting her first baby face-to-face.  And so we celebrate.  We celebrate this new little life.  We celebrate the beginning of motherhood.  We celebrate the growing of a family.
Our nursery theme when we were babies centered around Winnie the Pooh.  My sister and her husband are jumping off from there and going with a 100 Acre Woods kind of nursery theme.  Her use of the cross-stitches that my mom lovingly stitched over 30 years ago was my inspiration for her baby shower.

Food from the far reaches of the 100 Acre Wood: north {fruit} poles from Pooh’s ‘Expotition’, veggies from Rabbit’s garden, kanga pouch-pockets, owl eggs, honey buns and Piglet’s ‘haycorns’.

Baby showers are a special time to celebrate and anticipate.  It is also a fun opportunity to catch up with old friends.  Ev was surrounded with women – some she grew up with, others watched her grow up.  They brought their babies and everyone swapped stories and life updates.  And with joy we watch as she enters into this new phase in life.

Greta: A Birth Story

I have a daughter! 

It is a beautiful thing to give birth to your best friend

The funny thing about giving birth is how your perception of it changes over time.  Greta’s birth gets more and more beautiful, the further out I get from it.  To be honest, beautiful would have been the last word used to describe it in the hours and even couple of days afterwards.  It is a delight now to look at the pictures and remember back.

If you enjoy reading birth stories, I invite you to read on… 

Tuesday, September 27th found me battling a stomach bug.  As usual, I was also having periodic bouts of contractions.  The combination made me wonder if I was in labor.  When my midwife came for my appointment that day (hurray for home visits), she confirmed that I was most likely just sick and not in labor.  I had little appetite and really wanted to be over this bug, so I just nibbled on bits of toast and a banana throughout the day.

Thankfully, I decided to get to bed early and was asleep by 9pm.  I awoke at 2am with my first contraction.  I get lots of contractions.  In fact, I started feeling them at 13 weeks and in that last month they would periodically wake me up at night.  So I didn’t dwell too much on that contraction and drifted off to sleep only to be awoken 25 minutes later with another even stronger one.  At this point, my obsession with the “am I going into labor” game began in earnest.  When another strong one occurred 17 minutes later, I decided that it was probably the real thing.   I quickly determined that laying down in bed is NOT my preferred laboring position, so I ambled downstairs for a piece of toast and to try and figure out when to call my midwife, mom and sisters.  Since Treyton’s labor had been less than an hour long, timing was crucial.  No one wanted to miss the birth and the idea of an unassisted birth is not on our ‘want to try someday’ list.   The contractions started coming every 15 minutes so I called everyone by 3:30am. 

Over the next 2.5 hours contractions were manageable, but I definitely focused on relaxing through them.  My sister arrived with her camera in hand to chronicle the birth.  Turns out everyone had ample time to arrive this time around…

I was chatty and happy between contractions and calmly focused during them at this point.

Sue arrived and chatted with me for a bit to get a feel for how things were progressing.  I’m always amazed how in tune she was with me.  She checked fetal heart tones and then got everything set up for the birth before quietly slipping downstairs to rest and read until things picked up…

I had very vivid memories of the painful trek up the stairs when I was in labor with Treyton.  Transition and trying to crawl up stairs leaves quite a memorable impression, let me tell ya.  But when contractions started to space back out to 15-20 minutes apart again while I was upstairs and not walking around, everyone convinced me to go for a walk.  I’m an outdoors kind of girl and I’m so thankful that I followed that advice, especially since it brought the contractions down to every 3-5 minutes…

Around 6am the boys woke up, giddy with excitement.  I talked with them when I wasn’t busy focusing on a contraction.  They lounged around, but I was pacing.  It was agonizing to be ‘trapped’ sitting down during a contraction.  I wanted to be up, free.  I was pretty depressed that things weren’t progressing quicker since we had just passed the 4 hour mark.  Was it ever going to end???

Finally, they intensify and I knew I was far enough along to get in the water.  The water is often called the midwives epidural and I was eager for something to take the edge off.  But if you get in too early, it can actually drag labor out so I had held out for a while…

At this point, I lost track of time.  I was relatively happy between contractions, but it took every bit of focus to stay relaxed when I felt a contraction starting to build.  With Treyton, I immediately went into the all fours position and weathered transition and pushing in that position.  I didn’t want anyone touching me and made sure they knew it…  This time it was different.  I wanted Rich there.  I NEEDED Rich there for me.  Going on my knees was agonizing and I could feel shooting pain going down my legs.  It was weird to have to figure out this whole ‘labor thing’ all over again.

It felt like I was in the pool forever, making no progress.  But in fact, it had been only an hour… It was now 7am.  In despair, I figured I should go to the bathroom before transition hits.  Little did I know that during the last contraction or two, my moaning had changed and the midwives were starting to mobilize.  Thinking I had another 7 minutes or so to get to the bathroom and back, I headed in.  Time between contractions apparently isn’t the only indicator of where you are at in labor because transition hits in full force just moments later.

The thought of returning to the birth pool seemed abhorrent to me.  In my mind, I kept telling myself that I loved the water, but every time I looked that way, I would shudder.  I don’t want to be trapped.  I wanted to be free to move.  But I stayed fixed at the edge of the bathroom.

I hate transition.  I was getting pretty vocal and I felt wildly out of control.  Rich was amazing – my rock.  With only a bit of a breather between contractions, I made sure he stayed close.  In my head, I was having all kinds of crazy conversations with myself.  I’d convinced myself that this wasn’t transition and I was going to be in agony forever.  When my midwife offered to check me, I quickly turned her down.  I couldn’t bear the thought of bad news.  As another wave hit, I grabbed for Rich, desperately searching for a place to bury my head that will shield his poor ears.  hahaha.  I wish I were one of those women who labored peacefully, quietly.  But when I’m in transition it is not peaceful and it is not quiet.  Mercifully, this phase is always very short.

I love this man.

I felt awful.  I pitifully moaned, “Why Eve?  Why did you eat the fruit?”  {Apparently this made Rich snicker.  I was oblivious.} While I heard myself announcing that I couldn’t do this anymore, a voice inside of me assured me that it must be almost over if I’m saying that…  It’s been about 10 minutes since I had exited the pool and transition hit.

Sure enough, it was time to push.  Suddenly the water looked inviting again.  I pushed and pushed and pushed.  It seemed more difficult this time around to get her out.  [In hindsight, we think she may have been in a less than optimal position.]  The midwives were so soothing and calmly encouraged me.  I love my midwives.

And then she’s out.   While it felt like it was taking F.O.R.E.V.E.R, it only took 11 minutes of pushing.  It was 8:21, nearly 6.5 hours after the first contraction.

Immediately afterwards, I felt weak, very weak.  It was so strange because after Treyton came out, I instantly felt better.  Euphoria set in and after cuddling with my baby for a while, I hopped out of the pool and took a shower before settling into bed.  This time around, I was limp.  But she was perfect and in my arms.

I didn’t realize until later that I was so weak because I hadn’t eaten the day before.  Everyone stepped up to help me into bed and placed her in my arms.  I stared in amazement at my newest little treasure.  What will her personality be like?  I prayed that we will become best friends as I have with my own mother.  I thanked God for this beautiful gift.  {But I was still mad at Eve.}

 

Moments later, my boys and their cousins traipsed upstairs to meet Greta.

 

I soaked up the delighted and curious expressions on three little faces.

 And we inspected our little girl.

Now that I’ve had almost 4 weeks to look back, I see that expectations really affected how I initially felt about the birth – both during and immediately afterwards.  While I know that every birth is different, I still somehow expected it to be like Treyton’s – fast, furious and then over in the blink of an eye.  I realize now that a 6.5 hour labor is still considered short and that everything else with the birth was pretty textbook perfect.  While I wish I had prepared myself a little better, I’m also realizing the miraculous and beautiful part of birth.  I’m thankful that I was able to have her at home because that is where I feel most comfortable. {I never imagined myself the ‘crazy’ homebirth type, but it’s turned out to be a great fit for me.} Options in childbirth are wonderful.  I am thankful that my mother was able to be with me as I gave birth to my first daughter. {She missed being there for Treyton’s birth because she paused to make herself a cup of coffee and with my dad’s cancer, I was afraid she wouldn’t be here for Greta too…}  Both of my sisters were there.  I’m so thankful that Evie was able to watch the kids and then come up with them to see Greta so fresh out!   And in keeping with tradition, family collected that evening for a ‘birth’-day party, complete with cake – a perfect cap to a busy, busy day!

While I certainly wish there was a pain-free, drug and intervention free way to give birth, she is SO INCREDIBLY worth it!

It is pain with a prize at the end… And our family has been forever altered.

Getting Ready for Greta…

We have been busy over here getting ready for Greta’s arrival.  Last month at the cabin, Xander and I went for a walk on his birthday and I told him all about the day he was born.  Since there has been so much excitement with learning about pregnancy, babies and anticipating Greta being born I guess it was only natural that his afternoon playdough creation would be of him and his first moments in my arms!
Keegan, my little artist, has also been drawing up a storm.  He’s illustrated picture after picture to be hung in Greta’s room.  That is on the to-do list for tomorrow!  He is obsessed with spelling words right now and we just crack up at his use of phonetics.  Before I actually sounded out and explained how Greta’s name was spelled, this was his first couple of attempts at her name!
 This is going to be one well-protected little girl.  I love all of the knights surrounding her. 
And they aren’t the only one’s getting ready.  There has been a flurry of laundry (I won’t tell you how long it’s been since I washed the car seat cover), cleaning, prepping my birth kit and some sewing projects that have kept me busy, busy, busy.
I’m thankful that my sisters have come over a couple of times for sewing afternoons as I needed some motivation to get stuff done, especially repairing old diapers. ugh.  The subsequent projects were far more enjoyable!
Just another week or two (or three).

Pregnancy Update

Well, it’s been a while since I posted any kind of pregnancy update, so here is the digest version:
  • 27 weeks along.
  • 5 weeks past the time when I went on quasi-bedrest with the last pregnancy. (hurray!)
  • Despite contractions starting at 13 weeks.  Seriously?!?!?!?
  • Thrilled to be in a place of getting to take care of my family and still do some outside activities.
  • But mostly staying home these days and sneaking in a daily nap.
  • Loving getting to feel this little girl twirl and wiggle around inside. 
  • She has a name: Greta Renee
The longer version, for those that are interested…
Anyone that has followed the blog long enough (3.5 years) or knows me is aware that my last pregnancy was a wee bit challenging.  Starting at 21 weeks, I began having bouts of contractions that were 3-5 minutes apart.  My midwife asked me to ‘rest’.  It wasn’t full bedrest, but it certainly felt quite close to it.  It was a humbling time, to say the least.  At 32 weeks the contractions picked up once again in frequency and intensity that caused me to start effacing and dilating, so I was on periodic full bedrest, sprinkled with more time of ‘rest’.  Not being able to adequately care for my family was very difficult and while God certainly used that time to grow me, I had no desire to ever repeat that experience again.  I was not designed to lay on a couch.
Of course after my 14 weeks of ‘rest’, Treyton still decided to hang out inside (despite no let up in the contractions) until a day before his due date.
This time around, we know that I don’t have a history of going early, but I am also trying to err on the side of caution and keep my pace slower than the norm.  I have no desire to repeat our experience with Treyton.  I cannot even begin to describe how difficult it was emotionally and psychologically.  My goal is to make it through the summer taking good care of my family, keeping the contractions at bay and being in a position to fulfill my commitment to speak at the homeschool convention here in Arizona as I cross the 30 week mark.  {Just 3 weeks away!!!!! Can you tell I’m getting excited?}
As I sit here, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  At 27 weeks, I’m now 5 weeks past the point when I started ‘resting’ last time and we couldn’t be more thrilled.  While I’m still having annoying and surprisingly strong contractions, there is not the level of consistency that occurred last time.  Unfortunately, my body just likes to practice – a lot.

Still counting His many gifts to me and finally making it online to post some more of them… 
796. I’m thankful that I can still get out and about with ease.
797. That our ordeal with bedrest occurred last pregnancy when Rich worked from home.
798. Grocery shopping and being able to load and unload them from the car.
799. Ability to do laundry.
800. Walking up and down the stairs whenever I need to!

801. For Natural Calm magnesium which is helping me sleep better at night (and possibly helping to keep these contractions at bay).
802. For the night and day emotional difference right now to last pregnancy.  (Thank you Jesus!!!)

803.That I can be on my feet playing with my boys.

804. Boys who love to play with together and have been content with the slower pace this summer.
805. Kiddie Pools.
806. Swimming in Opa’s pool.  Oh the feeling of being weightless!
807. Boys obsessed with books.

808. Feeling this little girl squirm and move.

809. The baby {belly} hugs that this little girl (and mama) receive all thru the day from 3 excited brothers.

810. For my midwife who gently, but consistently reminds me to take it easy.

811. Enjoying and cherishing each little phase of this pregnancy!
812. That I sometimes still forget I’m pregnant and try usually simple things like ‘skipping’.
813. The comical relief at seeing my lame attempts to do so…
814. Naptime with my youngest (who won’t reliably take a nap these days unless he is in bed with me)
815. The anticipation of getting to meet her at the end of September or early October!

It’s a…

PARTY!!!!
 

With our previous three, we usually just hopped on the phone right after the ultrasound to blurt out the news.  This time, my sister and mom had the wonderful idea to have a revealing party!
Everyone was to come dressed in either pink or blue to reflect their vote!
So on Wednesday, Rich and I woke up and dressed according to our guess before heading over for the ultrasound.
Despite my insistence on refusing to have a ‘gut’ feeling this time around, I couldn’t help but think boy.  Rich had always told me he would only give me boys and so far, he had been spot on.  Rich shocked me when he told me a few weeks back that he was thinking it was a girl…
 Well today was the day we would find out!
TEAM BLUE!
(Xander has been pretty consistently saying girl, but when it came down to the idea of a prize, he went with the higher probability guess.)
TEAM PINK!
I bought little presents to reward those who had guessed correctly and consolation prizes for everyone else.
Inside one of these envelopes was tucked the answer for the lucky recipient to announce to everyone else!
 There was a bit of confusion, because the cute person with the correct answer didn’t initially realize it…
 But then celebrating broke out…  My sister is sure that her reverse psychology on the baby worked! 😉
   

Of course, for some, the process of adjusting took a bit of time.  But there were no tears like he had threatened on the way over if it was a girl…
A girl?  A daughter? 
I’m in shock that we are no longer specialists.  I am thrilled and nervous all at the same time…  Is that normal?  Do any of you have any tips on raising daughters???
So there you have it, we now have three knights and a little lady!
Speaking of knights, I finally uploaded a pdf of our Knights Code of Conduct and Knight’s Training log as I had promised, um, a couple of months ago…  
My boys are now thrilled that they will have a little girl to love, cherish and protect!  They plan to brush up again on their newfound chivalry skills!
(Thanks to my sister for taking most of the pictures!)

Gratitude as Spiritual Warfare…

I worry.  It’s a fault of mine.  When I was pregnant with my oldest son so soon after a miscarriage, it was a constant mental battle to not give in to the worry.
This time around there was still a battle going on.  About two months ago, I had some pretty clear signs that another miscarriage was coming.  I lay on the couch in tears, depressed and praying for God’s grace as I was set to teach PE that afternoon and then deliver a meal to a friend who had just had a baby – both of which I saw no way of getting out of.  On my own strength, I knew I wouldn’t make it through the day. 
My phone rang.  It was my dad.  I know few people that have such simple heartfelt faith like he does.  In my depressed mood, I didn’t feel like talking to him and silenced the call.  I wanted to sulk.  I couldn’t bear the idea of having to verbalize my vulnerability.
But then came that soft nudge from the Holy Spirit.  “Pick up your phone.  Call him back.”
So I weakly made the call.
My dad asked how I was doing.  I managed to mumble an “ok”.  He then told me that a meeting had ended early and as he was taking a longer walk back to his building, the Lord had placed me on his heart.  As he prayed for me, he felt led to pray that God would perform a miraculous work in my body.  He was praying for a miracle and in faith for this baby.
I broke down crying.  This was the exact time frame when it appeared eminent that we would lose the baby.  I was in awe with God’s timing and a spark of faith was planted.
I’d love to say that was the last day of worry or miscarriage symptoms.  But it wasn’t.  Instead, each time I saw a warning sign, I gave it over to the Lord and prayed for Him to perform a miracle in my body.  I called out to Him, the creator of all life, sustainer of life. 
And when each and every pregnancy symptom popped up, I counted it as a gift.  It is amazing how things like nausea, insomnia, irrational irritability and such can be viewed as a blessing…  It has been these gifts that have kept me going over the past two months.  Even when I would struggle with doubt, it would seem that God would send another bout of queasiness.  Isn’t He so kind?!?!?
All of that prepared me for the night two weeks ago when I woke up cramping and soaked.  Miraculously, I was at peace, even though I held absolutely no hope that our baby was still alive.  As I prayed, asking God why he couldn’t have taken the baby earlier and wondering how badly it would hurt, God just calmed my heart.  It is so mind blowing that in those moments of utter sadness He just holds and comforts and gives supernatural peace.  As morning dawned, I realized that I wasn’t bleeding much anymore and called my midwife who promptly came over to my house, telling me not to despair and that there still might be hope.  Sure enough there was a heartbeat and an ultrasound later that day confirmed why it was happening.  God was with me every moment.  
I, the worrier of all worriers, was at peace.  And I know that no matter how it had turned out that He was there walking with me every step of the way.  Now that is a miracle. 
So I count once again…  Care to join in? 

699.each and every icky pregnancy symptom.  Signs of new life growing.
700.trials that reveal how intimately God cares for us.
701.reminders to pray for miracles and God-given faith to keep on praying.
702. this post that I just ‘happened’ to read a couple of weeks prior to our experience. God in his kindness offering a ray of hope…
703. my mom quickly taking the day off to spend with the boys, schooling Xander, reading to them, taking them to PE.

704. my midwife with her calm assurance and insistance on making a house call.
705. 3 year old birthday party.  A first for him.

706. a very excited Sir Treyton.

707. a party that served as double duty for medieval feast and birthday celebration and boys that are thrilled with the combination!

708. a friend and his two brothers to share in our celebration.

709. Boys eager in their play.

710. precariously balanced pool noodle fencing.

711. a brother-in-law who keeps my sister laughing.

712. quiet afternoon play.

713. muted boy battle sound effects.

714. cousin-love.

715. boys excited about the first visit with the Icecream Truck. 

716. anticipation of Oma’s next visit on icecream truck day, because no one splurges like grandparents.  (My afternoon snacks consist of a green smoothie or raw veggies…)
717. important and touching reminders to write our sponsored child in Peru.

Anticipation…

There is some big time anticipation mounting over here.
The boys were excited to wake up two weeks ago to a breakfast of cinnamon rolls (reserved for only special occasions) and this centerpiece.
Even after Xander read the word and counted the candles, it still didn’t sink in right away.
But now the house is in a flurry of excitement.
An ultrasound and midwife appointment this week confirmed that everything is going smoothly.  There is nothing quite like hearing that heartbeat for the first time…
We are breathing a happy sigh of relief and looking forward to welcoming a new baby around October 1st! 

Choosing to Count

Most days counting God’s many blessings in my life just comes naturally.  It is a joy.  It is easy.

But sometimes, the fact that we live in a fallen world becomes so painfully clear that it takes the grace of God and a firm resolve to choose gratitude.

Xander has been working on memorizing I Thessalonians 5:17-18

Pray continually.
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It is easy to recite this, but not as easy to live this.

I find it ironic, no providential that we would be reviewing this verse daily right now.

This last week, we walked through the loss of our second child.  Our first miscarriage occurred 7 years ago, yesterday.  Last week, we travelled down that difficult road once again.  Navigating the path of grief, with its twists and turns, is never easy.  But in all this God has been so faithful.  I have had a peace that only comes from Him.

So I choose to record more of his gifts for me. 

435. For comfort during the quiet night hours when I’ve been alone with my thoughts and the tears come.
436. For scripture memory work that applies to me today, providing comfort, perspective and direction.
437. For boys who were sensitive to mommy not ‘feeling well’ this week.

438. For a giggle in the midst of sadness.  This little boy still needs mommy’s guidance with dressing.
439. For grace from God when I cried out for help to be kind and gentle in my interactions with my children while navigating through grief.
440. For a sister who put aside her plans for the week and came over to help.
441. For a loving and supportive family.
442. For strong husband arms that envelope and soothe me.

443. Xander – my inquisitive, empathetic first-born.
444. Keegan – my loyal, strong, reflective second-born.  (This borrowed helmet has rarely left his head this last week!)
445. Treyton – my energetic, active, affectionate third-born.

446. For the hope of more blessings in the future.
447. Homeschool support group friends who graciously allowed me to cancel hosting and speaking at a meeting last week, even though I wasn’t quite up for telling them why.

448. For an Oma day, so my boys could still go to music class and have a chance to play soccer with her!
449. For lots of time curled up on the couch reading and cuddling with my boys.
450. Lessons revisited and more bean-bag tossing…  (That was Xander’s verse from the week before this one.  God is so kind to prepare me.)
451. For dim lights at church yesterday that freed me up to worship and not worry as the tears came.
452. While recognizing that we live in a fallen world, finding comfort that I don’t have to walk alone.  He is always there.

I would love your prayers…

Birth-day!

Today I got to witness my very first birth! It was amazing!

It was a beautiful thing to behold. I am in awe of how God creates new life and enables new life to be born into this world. I’m thankful for the opportunity to help in small ways and capture pictures of this precious time!
This evening, we went over to celebrate little Keith Zebedee’s birth-day. The boys are quite entranced with their newest little cousin.

In step with tradition, the boys helped make a birthday cake. And of course helped blow out the candles since the baby slept through the celebrations and Evangeline was busy running around.
Ev and Peaches (Rich’s contribution to this post) made it back from vacation just in time to join the festivities! 🙂