Wednesday, December 17, 2014


A few months ago we started "paying" our kids for little odd jobs they volunteered to do
around house. I'm talking 10 cents for picking up the living room - they are like Merry Maids
or something, but WAY cuter and so affordable! Ha. 25 cents for helping Nathan change the piping
under the bathroom sink. You get the picture. Just a way to start teaching them the
concept of working, getting paid, tithing, saving, splurging, etc.

Our oldest is ALL OVER THIS. All day long I have to make up jobs to keep the kid satisfied.
They don't pay me enough. If it's possible, I'd say our 4 year old is a work-aholic and needs to take some PTO for the sake of momma's brain. And then he counts his money at night (he really is naturally
so diligent and I'm proud of him!) and proceeds to spend the next day begging me to let him buy the
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure, Leonardo, that he just has to have or he's going to diiiiiiie.


If I had a dollar for every TMNT comment, I would have made at least 50 bucks yesterday.
No joke. His excitement is too adorable to squelch. We actually gifted him that coveted hero in a
half shell today in honor of his 1/2 birthday. He kept scream-chirping with the kind of excitement
that makes you want to be little again.

And then today I told the kids that we need to purge the toys because-- Christmas.
Because-- Grandmas and grandpas can't control themselves.

Me: "Let's pack up some of our older toys that we don't play with anymore and give them
to some kids who don't have any toys this Christmas."

Judah: "Mom mom mom... listen. If we give away our toys to the poor kids then WE won't
have any toys either!"

Wouldn't you love to get inside of their heads? See how they process things?
Because apparently "let's donate a FEW toys" equals "I'll have NOTHING" to my 3 year old.

He spent the better part of this morning wailing at the idea of us donating a Fischer Price
helicopter that he hasn't even SEEN or PLAYED WITH since he was 2. And the brief moment that
he thought I was giving away his blanket?! Mom is the Grinch, and my life is over.

But deep breaths, everybody. The blanket is secure with him in his bed for naptime.
For the record: I would NEVER, unless for a VERY good reason, get rid of that childhood token.
Avoiding that "worst mother of the year" title again this month. Booya.

Formation is hard. I'm pretty sure my stay-at-home-mom-job is way harder than my husband's
"I'm going to lunch sans children with a bunch of work buddies" gig he's got going! *wink*

Judah: "I peed! I peed! I peeeeeed my paaaaaaants!"
Me: "Bud, that's just apple juice."
Judah: **bends over and sniffs his own crotch** -- "that is DEFINITELY pee, mom."

Isaiah: "Can I see my first home?" (my tummy - the womb)
Me: "Um sure."
**Isaiah and Judah begin laughing hysterically.**
Me: "Hey, you have a tummy too!"
Isaiah: "Yea, mine is FLAT."
Me: **oh no he didn't**

Me: "We need to go to Costco."
Isaiah: "Mom, I don't have time for this."

Judah: "Will you fill up my water bottle?
Nathan: "I'll think about it."
Judah: "You'll THINK about it?"
Nathan: "I'll fill it up. Jaaaaay kaaaaay (JK)."
Judah: "JK? L-M-N-O-P?"

Me: "Bella is SO yummy."
Judah: "Like a burger."
Me: "Is momma yummy?"
Judah: "Like a HAM-burger."
Me: "How about Isaiah?"
Judah: "Like a NERD."

Geography is going so well...
Me: "Where do we live?"
Judah: "America. CAPTAIN America. It's the same thing.
Me: "Ooookay. Can you say 'CHICAGO'?"
Isaiah: "Yea yea yea we live in Chicago. Chicago BEARS! It's the same thing."

Me: "What would you like to be when you grow up?"
Isaiah: "A papa." MELT YOUR HEART.
Judah: "A chair."
Me: "No, like a JOB, Judah?"
Judah: "Yea. A CHAIR."

And then there's Bella. She doesn't say much. Yet.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Why We Will Not Be Sterilized

We were at the zoo, pressing our hands and noses to the glass of the crocodile exhibit.
I was noticeably pregnant, and a woman with her daughter asked the million dollar question:

"Do you know what you are having?"

Me: "No, we like surprises!!!"

"Well, hopefully it is a GIRL this time so you don't have to be pregnant again!"

Me: *fake laughing* - "Oh, we are just getting started!"

We've had variations of this conversation with at least a dozen strangers since my second
pregnancy. It doesn't bother me in the slightest way, but it never ceases to take me off guard!
You care that much about my fertility? And family size? AWESOME! You just won yourself a
roundtrip ticket to my "openness to life" speech!!! Muhahaha.

I might be exaggerating, when I fill in the blanks with these conversations, but it just
seems that people probably assume that either I or my husband will choose to be sterilized so
that I "don't have to be pregnant again." I mean, I'm 27 - but look like I'm 16 (right?!), I
can't imagine that they envision two decades of me on hormonal birth control?

Could be wrong.

A few weekends ago, my husband and I watched Lois Lowry's The Giver come to life on the
big screen. Being a literature buff, I was a tad disappointed in Hollywood's creative license,
but still overall impressed in the emotion they were able to capture and create.

After the movie was over, I just sat and stared at the TV watching the credits roll by;
winding up my scattered train of thoughts as it went.

If you're not familiar, in this literary dystopian world of The Giver, they take pills to
suppress emotion - killing the desire for intimacy and sex, among other things. Babies don't
come from the loving embrace of a man and woman, but are grown in women as a rule,
(don't really want to start an IVF argument here) from artificial insemination.

People live, grow, and die in a world where color, joy, feelings, love, all the memories of the past
are stolen from them. And it is all seen as a normal, good thing. Those in authority know what is best.
Still talking about the story here.

I looked at my husband, feeling the weight of that futuristic world on my own shoulders,
wanting to cry, and told him that I am so thankful that we still FEEL and have a CHOICE when it
comes to fertility and bearing children.
I can't imagine not knowing the goodness of the marital
embrace or the wonder of carrying the life that grows from there.

It is in the gift of being "co-creators" of life that we as humans are most like God - THE CREATOR.
I mean, I can't even wrap my mind around the incredible honor that God bestows upon us in the ability
to generate new life! We are talking bodies with SOULS - eternal souls for an eternal Kingdom!

Without going into any grand biblical, theological, or historical explanation or argument,
this is the heart of why WE have chosen to not be sterilized (or use contraception for that matter).

Nathan and I came into this world with the amazing gift of "sexual organs", for lack of a more
whimsical term, in perfect-ish working order (THANK YOU, LORD! - not taken for granted)...

why "fix" something that is not broken?

I can't imagine, purposefully, removing or stopping what God intended for us as man and wife -
the gift of "co-creating" with HIM in OUR marriage. The sterility in the world of The Giver,
coming full circle now!, seems so dark, heavy - too "lifeless" to bear.

Give me the color, the emotions, the desires.
Give me the ability to give and receive and be filled with LIFE from and with my spouse --

in the great mystery of God.

And I will give you 3 children and counting +++
Because, remember? - we're just getting started!!!


If you want to comment, please be kind and realize this post is NOT meant as an attack,
but merely a reflection, testimony of a way of life that WE have chosen. This isn't about
"I'm right" and "you're wrong" -- and just because we might not "agree" does not mean
we still can't "love." Ok. End disclaimer. It's Christmas-time. Just spare me the hate mail.

If you or your spouse have been sterilized and have ever reconsidered,
you can e-mail me for resources:

P.P.P.S. (is that a thing!?)

Follow on Bloglovin

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Gift of Siblings

Routinely, every morning, my toddler sons romp into our bedroom with their
sleepy faces, bed heads, and whatever toy weapons they've chosen to bear that day.
They peak over the mattress with such excited hope, "is she awake, momma?"

And I am so glad we don't have to rush into the day. I'm thankful we have time to
stroke the baby's hair, cuddle under layers of cream and white covers, and chat about whether
we should have maple-cinnamon toast or oatmeal with apples for breakfast. Luxury.

They all smell of childhood, and I just breathe them in. Stay longer. Stay closer.
Let me hold you until my heart is content. Which will be: never.

Brothers and a sister. My Judah trembles and tells me, "I just love her so much!"
He loves so fiercely - he can't even stand it. They ask if they can "eat her cheeks" because
they are just so good. This goes on for hours - all day - the gift of siblings being unwrapped
and unwrapped and unwrapped in all its intended goodness.

I love that we can all be together.
Thankful that God has so allowed this season of our lives to be graced with me being home with
our kids, homeschooling. We take the days slowly, quietly, mostly unseen by the world - drinking
our decaf with cream in the mornings, playing, learning, snuggling, resting the days away.

Don't get me wrong. For the most part it's all peaches 'n cream, but I guess a more honest
representation would read: "playing, ARUGING, learning, WHINING, snuggling, CRYING,
resting the day away, PRAYING FOR DADDY TO COME HOME ASAP."

But that just didn't seem to flow as well. Ha!

When Nathan and I first started dating, I asked him if he would always be ok if I wanted to
use my hard-earned, very expensive, private college degree to stay home and use it in the best
way my heart saw possible... to raise and teach and be present to our children in the same
way my own mom was to me.

It's a good thing he gave an emphatic "yes" - or where would we be today?!

I am the honored witness of friendships being forged; the foundation of what will hopefully
be lifelong, irreplaceable relationships. Yes, God chose me to be their mother, but He also chose
these siblings for each other.
It makes me laugh to envision the grand scheme of it all - these crazy
kids - iron sharpening iron! They will know, test, refine, and form each other like no one else can.

Often I think of how deeply my boys love each other. About how they tell people they are twins
and cry at the very idea of being separated for even the shortest amount of time. If I am leaving the
house they anxiously ask if I am taking the baby with me - because "Mom, we like her. Please leave her
here with us."
It's a beautiful thing.

Bella's days are filled with big brother kisses, cheek squishes, and all the "oooo-ing and ahhhhh-ing"
a baby could want. The boys make her smile more quickly and easily than anyone else. They dote,
and she lights up. All the while, momma is just melting into a puddle on the other side of the room.

Don't mind me.

The belly laughs, the bear hugs, the crocodile tears when limits are pushed - the sparkling smiles,
the pretty pleases, the blueberry eyes, the chocolate eyes, full of questions, answers, and child-like
wonder - the tiny hands, smelly feet, batting eyelashes begging again and again... for a snack. Sigh.
This is the story of my life - the story of children - the story of brothers and sisters.

Cliché of all clichés, it is such a gift - this gift of siblings. And I just want to laugh,
and happy scream, and ugly-momma-cry it out for all the world to know.

Now I want to go hug my own sisters and brother.
Thanks, mom and dad, for the gift.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

I love this time of year.
The air is rich with the aromas that remind us of warmth.
Cinnamon, balsam, peppermint, brown sugar -- all dancing in the air, calling us
back to the moments that have left smile lines all over our hearts.

Making candy cane cookies in grandma's kitchen.
Unwrapping a meowing box of kittens on Christmas morning.
Decorating your first tree as newlyweds.
Watching your footy pajama-ed children beam with joy
as the lights twinkle, the hot cocoa is poured,
and the nativity story retold.

The world tells me to "hustle and bustle,", but I can hear my soul
counter-offering, "Be still." I look at my children now and can't bear
the reality of the time passing; each moment slipping away with the diaper changes,
the bath time, the books that are read.

I don't want to miss it.

When they remember "home", I want them to see calm, peace, joy,
and the beauty that came from just BEING together;
breathing in and out the wonderful rhythm of


It brings me much happiness to recreate such warm recipes that will
someday hopefully conjure up special memories deep in the hearts of my children.
When they take a bite and their taste buds spin a tale of cinnamon and brown sugar -
I hope they feel loved.


In stand mixer, mix together:

1 C. of pumpkin puree
1/4 C. melted butter or oil
1/2 C. whole milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

In separate bowl, sift together:

1 1/2 C. gluten-free all purpose flour blend (I use Bob's Red Mill)
3/4 C. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. ginger

Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

Pour batter into a lined muffin tin. Yields 12.

Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Thrill of Hope | A Family Advent

Boughs of greenery carefully laced, strategically stapled, to a 4 foot wide circle of wood; an
Advent wreath. I remember going out to the carriage house with my dad and four younger siblings,
dressed in coveralls, clinging to mugs of hot cocoa, as we brushed off the chill and began our
work on a yearly tradition.

We argued over the hum of the heater, the flicker of fluorescent light, about whose turn
it was to hold the stapler, the hot glue gun. "More branches over here!" "Leave room for
the candles!"
Working with our hands to create a symbol of hope, of promise - one we would
gather around for the weeks leading up to Christmas as we pray, wait. It was magic.
The stuff that starry sky over Bethlehem was made of.

It was always hung in the center of our family room. A massive display, gesture of remembrance,
that our world was once dark, but was made bright by a tiny babe born that first Christmas night.
As children, we would lay on the floor and look up through the center; noticing with each
passing evening of prayer, the room was getting brighter. He's coming - nearer, closer.
Anticipation. I remember the wreath would slowly begin to spin as more candles were lit -
casting the most beautiful star-shaped shadow on the ceiling, the walls.
Etching illuminated memories on our hearts.

This is what Advent is for. A time of waiting, preparation of our hearts and homes to
welcome again and again and again, year after year, the coming of the Savior. The mystery
of it all is endless; the wonder incapable of being contained. And we gather around the
green, light candles, purples and pink, unfold the readings for the Jesse Tree, devour the
goodness of the history of salvation, and once again we grasp at the beauty of Christmas.
Deeper this time. Take me deeper this time.

"Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which

is so necessary to man. Advent's intention is to awake the most profound and basic

emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became child.

This is a healing memory; it brings HOPE."
- Pope Benedict XVI


Here's a peek into what our family is up to this Advent season.
Sunday, November 30th, 2014 - it all begins!!!

Advent Wreath //

It doesn't have to be fancy. Simple greens + 4 candles to light as each week passes.
You light the first candle on the first Sunday of Advent, then light two candles on the
second week - so on and so forth. The pink candle is for the third week - GAUDETE SUNDAY!
Joy Sunday. A different color - a color of JOY - Christmas is getting closer!

We light the appointed candle(s) each night for family prayer time.

Jesse Tree // Bible readings + free printable ornaments

I keep the ornaments and reading prompts tucked inside envelopes for the kids to open.
Reading through the history of salvation, the cast of characters, the golden thread of
connection - never grows old for me or my family.

Nathan and I are also going to be doing the daily reading from Ann Voskamp's new book,
The Greatest Gift. She has amazing words to share each day that go along with the Jesse Tree.

4 Weeks of Waiting //

Growing up we didn't listen to Christmas music or put up our tree until after Mass
ON Christmas Eve. The build-up to that moment was so exciting, thrilling for us!
Since my own kids are still so little, and the idea of putting up a tree right before
Christmas is not exactly realistic for us -- we have been spacing out the celebration
for the past couple of years:

1st Sunday of Advent: Make Advent Wreath

2nd Sunday of Advent: Set out, arrange, discuss the Nativity scene

3rd Sunday of Advent: Buy and decorate a real Christmas tree

4th Sunday of Advent: Hang stockings and wrap presents


Wishing you all a blessed and holy season of anticipation - of Advent!

Would love to hear ideas on how you bring this part
of the liturgical year to life in YOUR home!

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned."
- Isaiah 9:2

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Thursday, November 20, 2014


This weekend we are shooting a family photo for our Christmas card!!!
I've been having phenomenal visions of playful, bright, life-in-motion for this year's
theme -- trying to capture the reality of our current state of affairs.
Three children: 4 and under. *cough cough* ahem.

I stocked up on peanut M&Ms (the toddlers' payment of choice) and am hopeful for
at least one decent shot to share with dear grandma and grandpa.
Patron saint of family photo shoots, pray for us?

So you know that singing telegram scene from the holiday movie, Elf?
"And guess what? I love you, I love you, I LOVE yooooou!"

THAT is exactly how I feel about MINTED.COM.
Have you seen their Christmas card designs for this season? Gorgeous.
I'm going to throw it all out there, and just tell you that I am officially IN LOVE.
Excited that they will be doing our Christmas cards this year!!!

They offer so many beautiful designs and options that I seriously don't know how
I will ever be able to pick!!! Here are some of my favorites...

I can't wait to get my hands on some pretty paper and share the
final production with you!!!


P.S. MINTED is offering 15% off all holiday card
orders through the weekend!!! Use code: SNOW.
Get your hot cocoa and go!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Baby Bella || One Month

Judah: "Mom, where are her words?"
Me: "Oh buddy, she can't talk yet, but she will soon."
Isaiah: "Yea, she just goes 'eeeeeeeeep!'"
Judah: "Like a wittle whale."

The boys have also lovingly dubbed her:

Princess Pea Pod
Sugar Plum
Chicken Noodle

and my favorite - Magic Bean

Welcome to life with brothers, Bella.

This first month has FLOWN by. I'm glad it doesn't PHYSICALLY feel like I just had her yesterday,
but it feeeeeels like I just had her yesterday. Time, be still. The first week was the hardest.
It wasn't really the baby, or the toddlers - it was mainly just ME. A hormonal reign of terror
coming down on all like a fearsome mother hawk. Remember this?

Yea, that's embarrassing. But I am happy to report that things have simmered down. A notch.
I only sent my husband THREE freak-out texts today. I'm over it. Smiles and chai tea all afternoon.

I am still in disbelief that we have a GIRL. I went out to buy her some 3-6 month clothes and
felt like such a rookie parent standing in the aisles trying to match all the girly accessories
to all the girly things. Holy moly. My head hurt. And so did my checkbook. But she's going to
be the cutest dressed baby on the block!!!

She sleeps like a teenager. Parties hard all day and sleeps SO WELL at night. Every night,
like clockwork (knock on wood), she's out for 10 hours - waking up ONCE to nurse and go right back
to bed. Occasionally she fights going back to sleep and we have some quality "girl time" at 4AM.
Not complaining. I'll take it.

Everyone keeps asking how the big brothers are doing - "have they accepted her?" I try not laugh,
like she's trying to get into a secret society or something. Rest assured, good public, she is loved
so well. Almost too well-- gotta watch those big brother smooches and squeezes.
They know not their own strength!

So excited to do "life" with this little girl!!!
She's got us all wrapped around her tiny fingers.
Melting like butter, we are.

Sweet Pea by Amos Lee on Grooveshark

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

What I Want My Kids to Know about Dating in High School

This has been a long time coming. I guess since I had one boyfriend in high school, I am
basically the Jedi Master on the topic - all things considered. I joke. But I've had enough
folks ask me about my thoughts on the matter, I figured I'd make it official and POST.

I have to prelude this with a significant disclaimer - in the likely case that some hundred
people (give or take) who knew me and said boyfriend in high school are reading this.

I honestly don't think that a more "ideal" dating situation for two 17 year olds could be
constructed. We were both homeschooled, from big families, with solid formation and strong
convictions in the morality department. Obviously, we went our separate ways 2 years later,
but I wouldn't say that it was a "failed" relationship or one that I "regret".

I just wish I had been able to see the big picture.

It was a small chapter of my life; one that God allowed to be written for one reason or another.
The relationship definitely changed me. Not for the worse or anything, but that's what happens,
right? People leave an impression - and that's why I don't "regret" the whole thing. I mean it
plays a part in who I am today. And thus a POST is born. There you go.

You know, my parents were right though. I love admitting that NOW, but at the time I would
have cried them an ocean of estrogen if they would have ACTED on what they tried to tell me.


They also had all these other crazy ideas about "courtship" and "chaperoned encounters"
in the living room which I promptly poo-pooed all over because "we are NOT the Duggars!"
Luckily they didn't push that agenda, but I had to share because it wasn't funny then,
but it sure is funny now!

Anyway. I digress.

Here are the 3 things that I want my own kids to know about dating in high school...

1.) FRIENDS. Focus on friends. Guys friends - gal friends - ENJOY EVERY SINGLE MINUTE.
Take advantage of those "non romantic" relationships to learn about who you really are
and want to become.
I think it's hard to concentrate on others around you when you are
raging with adolescent hormones. Am I wrong? I mean, when you're "in love", you eat, sleep,
breathe that interest. More or less - depends I guess.

But spend the weekends with your friends - eating Ben and Jerry's out of the carton
and having lip-syncing contests with hairbrush microphones. Or if you're a boy, do whatever
boys do?! Make fire, shoot some tin cans, eat an entire convenient store worth of potato chips?
You catch my drift.

You will have the REST OF YOUR LIFE to spend with your spouse. Wait for it. Just be.

2.) FUTURE SPOUSE. Speaking of "your spouse" - PRAY FOR THEM. Know that if you are
called to dating and marriage that it is waiting for you. Dating in high school may or may not, but
most likely, present opportunities that weigh on the virtues of purity and chastity. It's a lot
to deal with even OUTSIDE OF HIGH SCHOOL - let alone when you're dealing with those raging
hormones I was talking about above. Not worth it. Don't carry that challenge until you are
good and ready.

Not that my kids will care or want to mimic me, but writing letters to my future spouse was
SO GOOD for my own heart. Definitely made me "think twice" about who I dated and how I carried
myself in those relationships. My future spouse was REAL to me. You will NEVER regret honoring
them in all ways.

3.) JESUS. He has a PLAN FOR YOU in your singleness - things that He wants you to
accomplish without a boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or children attached. Look for it, love it, live it!
Whether that's school, mission work, ministry, etc. I don't know. But I DO know that you should take
advantage of the season and be fully alive in the joy of that. You might still do school, mission work,
ministry, etc. WITH your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, or children someday (and it will be beautiful!),
but love the moments before and hold nothing back.

But I think making decisions about what comes after high school will be easier, more clear,
more of WHO YOU ARE and less of WHO "WE" ARE without a significant other in the picture.
You've gotta do what YOU are called to do before you say "I DO!"

Jesus dreams BIG for you. Give Him your hands, your heart - always do HIS will.
Momma can't argue with that.

People have asked me if I'll let my own kids date in high school. I have no plans of stopping
them at the moment. But you can bet they'll have to "hear it all" from their mother just in case
they might be swayed. If THAT fails, I may have to try scaring them away from the idea with
some of those "living room courtship" ideas my own parents had for me! Wink.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

On Loving My Postpartum Self

No one reeeeally talks about it. The 4th trimester - the ups and downs, laughter and tears,
joy and insanity of it all. One day you are swimming in a sea of warm, squishy, newborn baby bliss
and the next you aren't letting anyone IN or OUT of your house because they are either going to
contract ebola and give it to your infant or lead a serial killer right into your living room.

People have been so kind and ask me how I'm doing and all, but I lean more towards "fine"
rather than dive right on into the fun facts of anxiety, stitches, breast engorgement, and the
whole achy, throbby - "I am falling out of myself" feeling. You following me?! TMI. I know.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

It was just this past Sunday. I had just put on one of my favorite dresses to go to church.
I was totally having a party in my head; celebrating the fact that...

A.) it fits
B.) I don't look so "lumpy" in it after all

An hour later I walked into the bathroom in a completely different outfit and my husband asked,
"Why did you change?" Well, let's see. When I put it on I had just breastfed the baby and
was looking decent in that department. Given time, milk reproduces, and I was totally channeling
Dolly Parton. Not for Church. Not for Jesus. I laughed it off. No big deal - I'd rather breastfeed
my baby than wear my favorite dress. Perspective, right? That's REALLY how I'm doing.

A couple weeks ago our 3 year old totally climbed into our bed in the middle of the night. Nathan
and I were both so exhausted that we just let him stay - unaware really. Long story long --
he peed on my husband, all over our sheets, comforter, feather tick. I woke up to *freaking out*,
lights turned on, and drama in our en suite bathroom. ARE YOU KIIIIIIDDING ME?!

I motioned to Nathan to GET OUT and turn the lights off before, God help me, the
baby that was just wide awake from 2-4AM wakes up AGAIN. I stripped the bed and marched
straight to the living room to tell my husband that this was ALL his fault and that
he could just sleep with said 3 year old - IN THE OTHER ROOM. For real.

Y'all, postpartum Brittany is cray cray. The next morning my husband let me sleep in
til 9AM and the first words out of my mouth were, "I AM SO SORRY. That baby. I was tired."

And then there is my body. I don't keep a scale in my house on purpose. Numbers don't matter.
It's all about FEELING good and being COMFORTABLE in your skin. That being said, I had to
promise myself that I would NOT step on the scale at my CHILD's 2 week check-up.

Yea, I broke that promise and had to pep talk to myself the whole way home. "20 more pounds
to pre-baby weight?! You've got this."
And just to make sure that I was thoroughly beaten up,
I went home and tried on all my non-maternity pants. Why why why?!

*bangs head against the wall*

I look down at my stomach and see DARK stretch marks this time - a straight line running down
my abdomen that looks even darker and more foreboding when I bend over. Weird, but I notice these
things... and I am sure MY HUSBAND DOES TOO and probably DOES NOT WANT ME ANYMORE?!?!??!

CUE: explosion of tears when he walks in the door from work. He wants to know what's wrong and
asks, "is this postpartum-ness?" Oh no he didn't. That's the post-baby equivalent of asking,
"are you PMS-ing?" NO. No, it's NOT. Yeeeeeessssss... yes, it is.

For the record, my husband DOES still want me. Phew. So that's good. Seriously though, so
THANKFUL for his covering and affirmation. He sees my post partum body very differently than
I see it - giving grace, love, and understanding - where it TRULY IS DESERVED!

I just had a BABY. A 10 and a half pound baby. I gained 50 pounds to bring such BEAUTY
into our lives. My body was stretched and pushed to the very limits to bring LIFE - a human
being (that still blows my mind!) - a breathing representation of the love my husband and I
share - and it is SO GOOD. So so good.

Despite the postpartum party going on over here, I AM finding it easier to be KIND to myself
this time around, to lower my expectations, and have grace on my brain, body, and those around me.
I'm laughing more and crying less. I am learning to LOVE myself in this season.

The other night I was laying in bed doing some spine stretches and deep breathing when my
husband walked in to give me a foot massage (SPOILED. I know.). I looked at him, feeling completely
humbled, and said, "You've seen my body do CRAZY things - with having babies and all."
(I mean, the guy has seen my intestines. I haven't even seen my intestines!) He laughed and agreed,

"It's pretty amazing actually."

"YEA IT IS! Too bad YOUR body doesn't do anything cool like that!"

*fist pumping mothers everywhere*

Motherhood is wildly beautiful, my friends. It bends and breaks us - strangely building us
up into stronger women. Pregnancy. Postpartum. I'd do it again and again to know this JOY
of loving and raising tiny humans -- the ones so intricately stitched together by the God
Who knew us all before there was time.

I'm going to go put a sweet potato in the oven now. For lunch. 20 pounds, remember?!
But you can bet I'll probably eat a Reese's peanut butter cup while I do it -- because GRACE, right?!
My body has been through a lot. It deserves it.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I Am Not Broken. A Birth Story.

My Bella Jane. Talk about fashionably late. Even at 12 days past her due date, she came slow and
steady into this world. Apparently my uterus is like the Taj Mahal of uteruses - so why leave?
I guess the "all you can eat" milk buffet just doesn't compare.

41 weeks //

All my people from far and wide were sending me every trick in the book to induce labor. God bless 'em!
Check. Check. Check. Did it all. 3 or 4 times over for good measure. Yea about that whole pineapple I ate
- all I got was a couple cankers, thank you very much. My favorite was a message from a friend
reminding me about how "funky town" from Parenthood would totally work. Anybody?!

Totally did NOT work. But again, we did our best. Wink.

I am so thankful that my doctors were willing to let me take this pregnancy to 42 weeks.
Since I have had a C-SECTION, most OB-GYNs in my experience are not too comfortable with such
ideas. But knowing that I have one successful VBAC under my belt (funny, right?!), I was confident
that I could do it again. I just needed time. And time was given.

I wrote a whole post about my "non birth plan" plan, but at 10 days past my due date I looked my doctor
in the eye for the last time before we would meet in the hospital and told him...

"I told you that I have NO plan, but that's a lie.
I am going to VBAC and you are NOT going to cut me open."

To that he said, "That's right!"

Again, thankful for supportive doctors. I felt like they believed in me and were so open
to all the little alternatives that I requested. If anyone in the Chicago-area is looking for
some solid Catholic OB-GYNs - I cannot recommend this practice enough. I love them.

Two days before my scheduled "light induction" (no promise of a VBAC, but at least a trial of
labor), I decided it was time. CASTOR OIL. Yes, I did. My doc actually said to give it a shot -
so I followed my cousin's midwife's directions (because midwives are so cool) and later that night...

contractions woke me up.
They were tolerable, but I could not sleep through them.
2-3 minutes apart for hours and hours. I woke my husband and told him I was jumping in the shower,
but encouraged him to keep sleeping because I had been having "fake outs" for many days and was
sure this was just another round of fun.

I then checked in with my doctor, and he asked me if my bags were packed.

But by the time I got to the hospital those beautifully consistent contractions were fading. I was
instructed to "WALK!" Round and round the labor and delivery floor. 3 hours later it was determined
that I was NOT in actual labor. Another fake-out. Technically I could go home.

Since I was 12 days overdue, dilated to 3, with a scheduled "light induction" less than 12
hours away, we decided to stay at the hospital and let the doctor break my water. Once I felt
that initial gush, I got that "HOLY COW THIS IS IT" feeling! In less than 24 hours we are
going to have a baby in our arms!

You would think that a 10 and a 1/2 pound baby would just fly out after the water had been
broken, but no. Hours later I found myself hooked up to my BFF, pitocin. That's a joke.
The BFF part.

Every hour or so they would bump up the dosage and my contractions would become stronger,
more consistent. Once I was dilated to 7 the doctor came in and turned off the pitocin;
thinking that my body would do the rest on its own. 5 minutes - 7 minutes - 10 minutes -
the contractions started drifting off to nothingness.

This was my panic moment. I asked every nurse that came in, "is my body broken?"

I cried. Partly from the pain, but more so from the fear and frustration of my body not responding.
I began to repeat in my head, "I AM NOT BROKEN. I AM NOT BROKEN. I AM NOT BROKEN."

My doctor came back in and said he was sorry, but that they were going to turn the pitocin back on
at the highest level safe for my condition (c-section scar). He asked if I wanted the epidural
first. I said, "NO" - determined to overcome the situation, thinking "I've got this."

10 minutes later, back on pitocin, I paged the nurses 2 times and eventually sent my
husband out in the hall with instructions NOT to come back without the anesthesiologist.

The pain subsided to the level of bearable and I just laid there on the hospital bed.
Feeling defeated. Crushed. Beaten by the woes of induction. My breathing slowed and I held
my husband's hand as the box fan whirred next to me, blowing away the tension and my furrowed brow.

Finally, I could feel the baby descending with that great rush of pressure. It's time. I knew it
was time. 30 minutes of pushing, deep breathing, chanting in my heart, "I AM NOT BROKEN!" ---
and then LIFE. I pulled myself up to see the doctor turning the baby over, hearing the nurse
ask, "is it a boy or girl?!"

GIRL. It's a girl.

Nathan got to cut the umbilical cord right before they rushed her over to clear out her lungs
(meconium). So surreal. Tears filled my eyes and no words came. No words. It was like being a
first-time parent all over again. A daughter?! The awe of it all - felt so different.

Her daddy got to hold her first. In fact, I'm pretty sure Nathan got to hold all of our children
before I did due to complications with each delivery. I guess the universe didn't get the memo that
the I was pregnant for 40+ weeks and probably should have dibs on holding the baby first! HA.

But it was wonderful. Happiest of memories. Nathan handed her to me, and even though I had planned
to breastfeed RIGHT AWAY -- I just stared at her; completely overcome with newborn baby bliss,
drowning in a sea of hormones and emotions. It's one of those SURPRISE OF YOUR LIFE kind of moments. You know?

We prayed for her. We waited for her. We are celebrating her.
Lady Bella Jane, welcome to our family!!! We love you more than you will ever know!

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