Tuesday, November 27, 2012

family struggles

I feel like all I've been able to document lately is the big things...the things I need to remember.  I want to such to write more....4 kids has been a HUGE jump from 3.  Wes and I were talking the other day and we decided that Peyton has only been a part of that challenge.  Since she's been born (and even a little but before), Wes has worked extra hours, Jonah's therapies and interventions have started (and along with that taken a big chink of what's left of family free time), and Micah has had his own struggles (to say the least) that have been extremely stressful for him and the rest of us.  I feel like the last 5 or 6 months that the vast majority of our lives has revolved around what's going on with the boys and what to do about it.  Micah's had a full schedule of out-of-home activities that have pretty much run my life.  To take him to Booster Club rather than sending him to school on the bus each day has been a huge challenge.  I have to wake the babies up early to pack everyone in the car (when the boys ride the bus, they just walk a few houses up the street to the bus stop).  Then, I have to race home or race through my errands dragging the poor babies with me.  That time between 9 and 12 is practically the only time all day I have to do anything productive from laundry to groceries to anything else.  Given the fact that I'm trying to do that with a very demanding 2-year-old and a nursing baby, it's not all that productive.  I try to take any opportunity to give the two "littles" attention and love. ;)  I race to school to pick Micah up and take him to preschool (he eats lunch in the car).  I get him there usually by 12:30, but the school starts earlier, so he's only there until 2:15, which leaves me a 10-minute drive away from home.  I usually race home to try to get Jonah down for at least a little nap that day, and feed Peyton, hopefully eat something myself, and try to figure out what's for dinner.  (Yes, I am VERY disorganized right now, which is not me at all and causes me a lot of undue stress.  I can't figure out how to pull it together because there's always some kind of change in the boys' schedule that makes it impossible to find any regularity or time to think things through.)  Then, I have to tear poor sleeping Jonah out of bed and take him back to school to pick up Micah.  We usually head home and about once a week someone is coming to our house to help with Jonah's interventions.  Wes has picked up extra work where he can, so he's either working 7 days a week, or 5 or 6 (the day/days off being weekend days, so I'm not going through the whole runaround).  Everyone's so burned out by then that nothing other than the bare minimum really happens those days (catching up on laundry, planning meals for the week, attempting naps, etc.), so Wes and I both begin the next week totally burned out.

Peyton seems to feel the stress a little and has taken to wanting to be held and carried around all the time.  I LOVE the way she slows life down for me for those little moments, but it is hard to focus on her sometimes when my mind is swimming with other things.

Do you feel stressed and negative reading this?  I do writing it!  I will say that we've done it all with lots of surrendering to what's going on and realizing that we need to both build a little support system here (we're still getting to know our neighbors since I got pregnant and sick right after we moved in), and roll with the punches realizing that sometime in the near future we will receive some definitive answers and be able to make some decisions and create a schedule/routine that works for everyone.  We try to seize the moments we have relaxing together and make them fun doing simple things.  I think we've done pretty well considering.  I have DoDots and M.O.M. to thank for that (more later).   

Until then, we are hanging in there and flying by the seat of our pants with grateful (most of the time) and hopeful hearts.  We know that this hard time will become a little easier (in certain ways) soon, and we are anxious to move forward and make the changes we need for everyone to be happy and comfortable.

I feel like one big positive that's stemmed from all of this is how much it's united us as a family, and Wes and I as a couple.  Everyone's had to be completely open, honest, helpful, tolerant, compassionate, and forgiving.  We've all had to rely on each other and list one another.  I feel grateful that we've been able to use this struggle as an opportunity for growth rather than making it a bigger struggle by not getting along.

Well, my next post should be much more fun to read.  I just wanted to document this stuff....sometimes it's okay to write about some of the "tough stuff".  It seems like you only remember the good things, but struggles are real, too.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

life in snippets

Just a quick post before the troops wake up.  Peyton has just fallen asleep after her long, frequent morning feedings (I'm not going to complain since she sleeps all night like a champ!).  Life with 4 kids is so darn BUSY.  But also so fulfilling and fun!

-Peyton is growing like a weed.  We blessed her Labor Day weekend, and it was such a memorable experience.  We opted to do it at our home again and it was wonderful.  It's amazing to think how much she had even changed since that day just three weeks ago.  She is a giggly, rolling (yes, you heard that right), teething (yes, that one is right, too!), interactive little sweetheart.  She LOVES to observe the world around her and be part of the action.  She loves her brothers and although she doesn't always love how noisy they can be, she is fascinated and awed by some of the things they can do.  And they love her right back!  It's so heartwarming to see how they love on her and talk/sing to her.  They are all the big, strong, protective brothers who are also so tender and sweet with her.  I love it!

-Peyton LOVES the carrier and we use it for her often.  Wes and I love having a hands-free way of holding her sometimes.  I love to wear her as I do housework, cook, walk the boys to the bus, etc.  She usually fusses for a few minutes and then goes right to sleep.  Lately, she does stay awake and observe her surroundings.  Wes and I took the littles (Peyton and Jonah) to the gardens at Thanksgiving Point a couple weeks back when the big boys were busy, and she loved it.  Added bonus: it was the first time I finally convinced Wes to try wearing her and he loved it.

-Jonah is finally starting to talk.  It's still a far cry from Kolton when he was two.  Most of his words run together, and most of the time there is still only one word at a time. Many of them are only discernible when you apply them to the situation, but nonetheless we are so proud of him!  He's come a long way since his first word, and it's been fun watching his speech develop and expand.  He has turned into quite the gutsy boy, and I have to watch him like a hawk on our swingset because he'll climb all the way to the top by himself!  He loves to visit the park as well and will follow the big boys around anywhere (including the rock walls, HUGE, high, slides that give Mommy a heart attack, monkey bars, etc.)  He loves to push anything from cars to strollers and lives for walking up and down our street pushing something.  He's recently decided that sidewalk chalk is pretty cool as well and is having lots of fun with it lately.  He loves the "Gossie" books and my heart just melts every time he asks for "Go-ggie". 

-Jonah has decided that he is very interested in going on the potty.  We have pulled out the kid potties, washed the cloth training pants, bought a box of pull-ups from Costco, and are now armed and ready for the next free weekend to begin the next adventure!

-Jonah has grown so attached to his blanket now that we have to keep one in the car to get dragged around with us all day, every day.  I had bought him smaller versions of the same blanket, but he won't have anything to do with them anymore.  I'm thinking that one of his Christmas gifts will be one or two more blankets to throw into the rotation so I can wash them more often.  ;)

-Jonah rarely lets me comfort him when he gets hurt.  I will never give up trying to hug him and "kiss it better", but right now he usually cries and gets angry and pushes me away when I try to comfort him.  It breaks my heart.  Today, he let me hug him a couple times after he got hurt, so I'm hoping this is the beginning of the end of that.  When our Occupational Therapist heard this recently, he decided it was time for us to move forward with more thorough testing.  We are planning on the worst, and hoping for the best.  Jonah seems to make strides, and lately he's been progressing faster, but he's still lagging way behind and all of our "helpers" are starting to get concerned.  We are trying to do everything we can for him, while at the same time, trying not to worry too much until we have some more definitive answers.  I am anxious to get some answers and move forward.  I am starting to get a little nervous for what the future holds for this little guy, but for now, I'm trying to focus on doing everything I can for him while we are waiting for test results from early intervention programs in our district, as well as an appointment with a specialist.  Please keep our sweet little boy in your prayers.

-Micah started kindergarten!  I can't believe I now have 2 babies in school.  He's struggling a bit to find his place.  Wes and I are trying to figure out (along with many teachers, the school psychologist, and the pediatrician) if he's just young for his age, if he has a learning disability/different learning style, if he has an ASD or something similar, or if public school is just not for him.  We are currently "double-dipping" him, taking him to kindergarten in the mornings and then preschool two days a week.  He was recently invited to join the school's "Booster Club" which meet for a few minutes before school several times a week.  I hid and spied on him the whole time, and then spied on him during the first few minutes of school.  He seems happy, but insecure. He prefers to play alone at recess, which I was surprised to see.  The teacher (who was Kolton's teacher last year.) has been keeping us filled in, but the reports lead to more questions.  He can't follow basic directions, he's listening but not hearing/understanding, he doesn't seem to know what's going on.  It breaks my heart to hear him laugh and tell me I'm silly when I try to tell him he's smart.  He's 5, he should know that he's intelligent!  I have never questioned that.  But because of his insecurities, the teacher's thoughts, etc. we are thinking long and hard about pulling him out of kindergarten and trying again next year.    But we'll see.  We are just trying to keep an open mind, do lots of research, and find the path that's best for our little Micah.  Thankfully, he comes skipping home from school each day, and doesn't seem disheartened at all about school and learning.  But I am anxious to see his confidence level and his self concept go up.  Hopefully way up.  Until then, I'm grateful that his cheerful little disposition is getting him through the tough stuff.  For now, we are keeping him with our plan as we wait for his turn to be tested by a specialist.  We are anxious and worried about him as he seems a little more stressed and anxious and symptomatic of an ASD each day.  I am feeling a little, and sometimes a lot, guilty for not seeking help earlier.  But I didn't realize the extent of his challenges until recently.  We did have him tested last year at our district's assessment center, and he did have some pretty substantial delays that entailed a few red flags for Asperger's, but when they had me fill out a questionnaire, he was just barely in the gray area and they said it could just be immaturity and not to worry about it too much yet.  I am kicking myself for not pushing harder to get answers then.  He just seemed happy, and he seemed to be getting along with others just fine, so we weren't too concerned.  We are probably more concerned about Micah than Jonah right now, but we have several guardian angels, and I know the Lord is aware of us and Micah and the struggles he is going through.  My heart is breaking for him and at times I find it hard to think of much else because it feels like he is getting more frustrated and sad every day and I can't figure out how to help him.  I want to make it all better, make it go away, but I have to find it in myself to be patient as we anxiously wait for answers and guidance about how to best help him.  I think this year and maybe the next will be some very big years for him.  Please keep this little guy in your prayers, too.

-Kolton is really starting to enjoy first grade.  He did NOT like it at first, and he still complains frequently about being away from home for too long, wanting more time with me (I have to say that inside I am thinking, "I agree!  I miss you and Micah so much when you are not here!"), but he finally seems to be adjusting.  He likes his teacher and he's starting to make some new friends.  I'm proud of him....he's SUPER shy, and he's trying very hard to be "friendly" and stepping out of his comfort zone.  It takes lots of incentives and encouragement, but I feel like for me, practice being friendly was the biggest thing to help with my own shyness.  I'm hoping it's the same for him.  Kolton LOVES to read and is getting very good.  I really enjoy helping out in his class whenever I can.  I love the way his face lights up when he sees me, and I instantly feel so grateful and blessed to be a stay-at-home mom.  I'm so lucky that I get to really "be there".   He's been such a star with everything that's been going on.  I feel so blessed that he is my firstborn.  He's such an amazing little boy.

-All of the boys are totally smitten with Peyton.  She has already become so spoiled because she gets special treatment here from everyone!  She eats it right up and turns on the charm.  She is so happy and eager to interact with her big brothers, and they are so wonderful with her.  It melts my heart.  Actually, any time any of my kids are playing sweetly together, laughing together, or helping one another, it melts my heart.  I love being a mommy.  Thankfully, so far she is hitting the developmental milestones a little ahead of the curve.  I am just trying to remind myself to focus on her sometimes because she's so easygoing that sometimes I forget she's there when I am surrounded by three boys that can be a little all-consuming.  Nonetheless, we enjoy time in the early morning, Jonah's naptime (when he'll sleep), and in the evening before bed.  She's such a cheery little soul and she is just full of charisma.  She wants to be a part of everything we do, everything that's going on.  She's a little chatterbox already and loves the sound of her voice.  She loves the bath.  She loves her brothers and finds them absolutely fascinating.  And of course, she loves her Daddy!

I'd better finish this post and get it up!  It started two weeks ago and I've found myself editing a lot tonight because so much has changed in so little time and my life has become a little overwhelming.  I feel like most days lately have been consumed with to and fro from school, appointments for the boys', doctor's appointments for me, calling insurance, the new kittens, Rocky (for my sanity).  One of the perks of all the stress lately is that the baby weight is finally coming off despite my inability to wake up early and exercise.  I just don't seem to have an appetite - probably all the stress.  I am excited to have my big boys out of school for the break and am hoping we will all get some much needed rest and relaxation.  We've got some big changes happening and I am hoping we cans steal some time this week to focus on strengthening our family to prepare for what's coming.  Despite all the "hard stuff", I feel very grateful and comforted.  I know everything will be okay, and that we will figure out a way to find a nice quiet rhythm very soon.  Until then, I am releasing myself of guilt and responsibilities that can wait (aka our house has been a MESS lately, but I am doing my best to turn the other cheek and get myself in bed and remind myself that all this chaos is temporary.  We will hang in there, laugh a lot, and find a good routine once we realize what we are dealing with.), and just enjoying the sweet angels that are my children, and the amazing rock that is my husband. 

I am so grateful for Wes and the strength he's given me lately.  I am a lucky girl to be married to him and he motivates me every day to keep going on not quit when things get hard.  He gives me his love, support, and advice and I appreciate it all so much.  The advice I'm trying to give myself is to find the gratitude and the blessings...the little serendipities throughout this.  And lucky for me, they are everywhere, and they are getting us all through.  :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Wow! Has it been a month?!

I can't even begin to describe how busy we have felt this summer.  I decided a few weeks ago that if I blogged at all before school started, that I would consider it a bonus!  We have been so busy adjusting to 4 kids, getting our horse, Rocky, back into shape, working busily in our garden, daily attempts at a routine consisting of chores, music practice, quite times, etc., and trying to make husband/wife time together.  I have also been working hard jumping back on the awful doctor bandwagon (had to do a few appointments with regular doctors, who like to sometimes use scare tactics or make you feel like you are irresponsible if you want to stop and think about things before you start taking shots, medications, etc.), mildly researching as I try not to think too much about what I should eat to continue recovering from all the health issues I was healing from before I got pregnant.  Sadly, I only lost 13 pounds after Peyton was born (surely stress), so I'm also working at losing those extra pounds while keeping a plentiful milk supply.  (More about that later.)  So far, so good...I just have to be patient.  I feel a little sleep deprived, and at times, a little overwhelmed, but all in all, life is good and I feel so incredibly blessed and lucky for the innumerable blessings.

I am still on cloud 9 from our birthing experience.  It was amazing....one of the most incredible days of my life.  I find myself wanting another baby sometimes, but realized (with relief haha), that I am just missing that AMAZING experience of childbirth and want to do it all over again.  Hopefully, that wish will be granted - a few years down the road.  For now, we are soaking up every single minute we can while we have a newborn in the house.  You know, that newborn "magic" that only seems to last a little while, but is so special.  (My new little buddy is snuggling up to me now, watching out the window as I type.  We like to hang out together as much as we can.)

Meanwhile, our boys seem to be growing like weeds!  They change so much every day, and I am overwhelmed by the love and gratitude I feel for each of them.  They are such little sweethearts, and I feel so lucky that I get to stay home with them and be there watching them grow and helping them discover the world and everything in it!  It can be chaos and even downright awful at times, but overall, it just gets better and better.  I love my family, and being a Mommy is better than I ever could have imagined.

I finally got all my memory cards cleared from my camera, saved, and backed up, so hopefully I will get some pictures on here soon.  I am sooo excited to be using my camera again.

I feel like, once again, I am learning so much myself that I can hardly figure out where to begin.  I feel so much stronger and more peaceful than I have in a long time.  I have gotten to know myself, my husband, my children, and my Heavenly Father so much better in the past year.  I like all of us.  ;)  The trick is, remembering what I've learned and applying it to my life.  There is just so much!

Life right now is SO BUSY!  I am so glad that we didn't have any extracurricular activities going on this summer....that wold have thrown me way over the edge.  My plate still feels a little too full at times, but when that happens I try to step back and evaluate how I can simplify the day (or week) a bit.  (Although, that doesn't always happen.  I try to be a nice mommy most of the time, but sometimes the mean mommy sneaks out....kind of like last night when no one would eat lunch or dinner, or take their naps, and the toddler followed me around whining and screaming and tantruming because we can't have applesauce and juice and suckers all day.  Then, sometimes mean mommy does sneak out.)  Wes has been blessed to work lots of extra hours this summer.  We've been able to catch up on some bigger expenses, help others, and begin to out a little money away.  He's got a lot of extra hours this month as well, so we are hoping to climb out of all the little debts and keep up with the newly accruing medical expenses of a high insurance deductible (meaning all doctors appointments and vaccines for all the kids have been paid with cash only this year) and all the tests and doctor visits we have to deal with to even begin to see where my health is at.  But, we feel pretty certain that we will at least be picking up where we left off with all of that.  Maybe even ahead because I am still drinking green smoothies, spending time with my horse, and getting a little exercise.  The only missing piece is sleep right now, but Peyton has thankfully started sleeping a solid 8 hours (knocking while I say that knowing that you never know which night will be the night you are up, right?).  I just need to work on being ready and in bed for that first feeding, so I can go to sleep and get my 8 hours, too.  That's easier said than done when I've finally got everyone in bed and I can look around the house and see so many things calling out to me demanding my attention.  Laundry, dishes, cooking, housework is never ending, and I have to do better at remembering that there is a stopping point - and that's not always at the "done" point.  But all in all, knock on wood, we are as balanced as we are going to be during summertime and after having a new baby, while having Wes is working so much. We feel very blessed and content with life.

I feel so incredibly blessed to be married to Wes.  He has been so amazing since the day we found out we were pregnant.  I have had to depend on him more than I ever have before.  It's been a real shift for us, but in a good way.  Letting him do more for me has made it easier for both of us to think about the other person and their needs.  We've learned once again how important alone time for us is and we've grown so much closer lately as we've faced the challenge of 4 small children and extra time apart.  I am so excited to spend some much-needed extra alone time with him when we take off for a night to celebrate 8 years together (with Peyton, who will hopefully keep up her 8-hour sleeping streak).  It's amazing how the harder/more demanding things get, the stronger you can get as a couple.  I feel happier and more content every day.  I think it comes from each of us accepting the other person as they are more each day.  Adapting to one another and playing each other's strengths, rather than focusing on their weaknesses.  Communicating honestly and lovingly.  Trying to make our time together special, not just relaxing in front of the TV or going on grocery store "dates", but really making a consistent effort to be spending quality time together.  One thing we've been doing lately is peppering a volleyball together in the backyard for a few minutes after the kids are in bed.  Another huge help for me right now while I'm too fried to think of my own ideas is this website and this website.  It makes everything simple, yet fun and memorable.  One thing I have learned from marriage is that the more you think about and do for the other person, the happier you become.  It's even better if you've married someone like Wes, who is so caring and sensitive and fun.  :)

I think what I'm going to do with this blog for now is just resolve that school starts in three weeks, and if anything gets written before then, then it's a bonus.  Once I have kids in school and a solid routine going, I will try to squeeze in all those catch-up posts (for my journaling purposes....I don't want to forget!) in-between our regular ones. 

For now, Kolton (who has been coming up to sleep in our room practically every night for a month now), just went into Jonah's room and woke him up, and Micah just left after coming up to ask if he could play Geotrax.  Peyton just fell asleep for her morning nap, so now is a good time to get everyone fed and dressed, and if I'm lucky, I can squeeze in a 12-minute kettlebell workout and a 5-minute shower.  17 minutes to myself....do you think I can do it?  ;)  Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, June 22, 2012

we are now a family of 6!

I know it's been a long time since I've written consistently, and believe me, I've missed it.  The end of pregnancy brought with it some pretty severe carpal tunnel syndrome, and my hands just couldn't do much typing.  (which I am still experiencing but gradually recovering from as my body makes its way back to "normal".)  I am excited to be back now and ready with a long list of catch-up posts for the days I run out of ideas.  (Hopefully the kinks will be worked out of my blog template as I go along also.)  I thought it would be fitting and fun to pick back up on blogging by writing about something I want to document while all the little details are still fresh on my mind.  I want to remember them for family's sake, but also to have something to refer to next time I am pregnant.  So feel free to read on, but unless you are a "birth junkie" like me, it will probably be boring.  :)

I went into labor in my 37th week, began dilating, and then my labor suddenly stopped.  I'd had contractions just a couple minutes apart for several hours before we decided to head into the birthing center around 4:00am.  What a disappointment it was, but it was reassuring knowing that something had happened.  My belly dropped quite a bit that night (and had been slowly dropping for a week or so beforehand), and we all thought that the "big day" must be getting very close.  I was a bit surprised when I made it to my next midwife appointment, and then the next, and the next.  Baby Stewart went from measuring right on/slightly big (39-40cm) to measuring pretty small (37cm) as she dropped pretty far into my pelvis.  (I could hardly walk for the last three weeks or so.)  I'd had many, many nights of what seemed like could have been the beginnings of the big day and only after getting a terrible night's sleep, things would begin to slow down right as the sun would begin to rise outside. It seemed like from mid-May until little girl came, it's been a cycle of one night of slowly progressing labor, to one night of good sleep and feeling a little better.  I finally adjusted to it and just did my best to be patient and get through the day (man alive, every day past when I normally give birth - 7 days early - felt like it would never end!  And there is a HUGE difference between 39 and 40 weeks, let me tell you!  I will remember that part for next time for sure.).

Friday night (June 8th), Wes and I were so excited and relieved that he finally had a weekend off.  He's been working lots of extra shifts right now since we've had some extra expenses from baby, fixing up the house, etc. and we wanted to take advantage of the very rare opportunity for him to make some extra cash.  Anyway, we were up extra late just enjoying being together and finally turned in around 1:30am (I know, not smart when you are a week past your due date....lesson learned.).  Wes and I were both thinking that since our baby had waited so long to come, that she must be making her debut that Sunday, June 10th, which is Wes' mom, Johanna's, birthday.  So during that week, anything that started didn't really phase me, which was good.  I was pretty emotional and exhausted at this point, and I don't think I could have handled thinking I was going into labor all week.

Around 3:15 Saturday morning, I woke up at the peak of a pretty strong contraction after I'd been dreaming of having them, which makes me think my labor probably started shortly after falling asleep.  I couldn't seem to get comfortable enough to fall back asleep, but they weren't going away either.  The "normal" routine I had figured out was that if I got into the warm bath, I could get things to calm down enough for me to go back to sleep.  So, I got up and got into the tub.  Fifteen minutes later, I woke Wes up so he could read me a few hypnosis scripts to help me relax.  We decided to time the contractions as well, since they were growing stronger.  Around 4 or so, we times one contraction 14 minutes after the previous one, so I decided to hop out of the tub and climb into bed.  At this point, I was convinced Peyton was coming on Sunday, so I was preparing to have a long, slow labor and wanted to rest up every minute I could.

But sleep was not imminent.  The contractions, which actually felt more like waves of intense pressure, were getting stronger, and I was suddenly feeling a little nauseated.  Wes suggested I try the birth ball, which had been a huge comfort to me the past few months, and I had a few bites of cereal.  In between contractions, I tried to tidy up, kiss my boys, throw a load of laundry in, etc.  Things weren't slowing down, but they weren't picking up, either.  I was getting pretty tired at this point and decided to go back to bed and try to sleep.

The reason we hadn't called the midwife at this point was because the normal signs of labor I have experienced in the past (losing my mucus plug, and severe pressure on my back, etc.) hadn't happened yet and this combined with no pattern to the contractions made me think that labor would stop again.  (I now know that at least the pressure I felt in my back with my previous three kids was due to their posterior position during birth, and then exacerbated by the medical personnel at the hospital insisting that I sit or lay in the bed....positions which are poor for birth anyway, but particularly when the baby's head is already sitting to low on your back, leaving him/her no room to turn around and no comfort for Mom.)

But I suddenly realized that these contractions also felt different than the previous three births in that I felt much more "opening up" going on right at the base of my abdomen rather than cramps and pressure on my back.  Realizing this actually felt pretty magical....I was quite in awe of what my body seemed to be capable of doing with the right direction and tools. (I had done tons of visualizations of the baby coming out in optimal position, combined with listening to affirmations and doing lots of birthing positions on my hands and knees to encourage baby to turn and stay in the correct position.)  Once I made this connection, it actually made me really excited because I think at that moment I knew my baby would be here very soon, very comfortably, and safely.  I felt a strong confirmation that Wes and I had made the right choice for this birth, and that we were about to have an unforgettable experience.

Anyway, after I'd decided to call the midwide while we were in bed, I don't think she believed me that I was in labor because I was so upbeat.  But then a contraction hit and I coldn't focus on both her and my body at the same time, and I think she realized that this was it.  She told Wes to let her know when we were heading out, because I would know when it was time to leave.

After that, Wes called my dad, who came over after what seemed like an eternity.  (Me and car rides during labor don't mix because I don't like sitting the way I have to in order to be safe when I am in labor.)  My mom called Wes to let him know my dad was on his way, in case we wanted to leave right then (my parents only live a mile away), which we did, and we passed him on the way out.  It was 6:15 by now.  I was really struggling to focus and I felt a shift in my emotions as we headed out.  Suddenly, I was happy but felt like crying.  I was super excited to hold out little girl, but feeling too tired to labor any longer.  I felt a lot of extra tension in my body, which I think was just from being in the car, although it could have also been when I entered transition, and a sudden urge to vocalize.  I know it sounds weird, but it wasn't loud...pretty soft actually, and it seemed to help me release the extra tension and relax a little deeper.  (Thanks to my bestie, Celest, for loaning me her book, "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" in which I had read about vocalizing during labor and how relaxing and powerful it is for some women.)  

Wes got to the birthing center in record time, thanks to us hitting every single green light!  Once we made our way in (contractions were right on top of each other getting out of the car, and it took a bit to get inside haha), Rebecca, our midwife, asked if I wanted her to check me to see what I was dilated to (she had suggested previously that I do what feels right because I feel like if they hadn't checked me with Jonah, I might've made it through without medication because I dilated from a 5 to 10 in an hour with him.).  I decided I wanted to know because I knew I could do this either way and I was curious where I was at.  As she bustled around, taking my stats and the baby's, I quickly realized that I needed to get right into the tub and prepare for breathing this baby out!
This tub is made of a special porcelain from Taiwan.  It is so soft, you feel like you kneeling on foam, but it was firm enough for me to grip on to keep my position stable.
The tub was worth it!  It was so big and wide, which made it easy for me to get into a comfortable position very quickly.  Wes poured water on my back and did light touch massage as I began to feel some VERY intense pressure.  I became very emotional and got a little worried that I wouldn't have the energy to endure, but Wes and Rebecca knew right what to say to keep me focused and steady.  Wes was amazing.  I relied on him so much from the point we got there, and I was so impressed, proud, and grateful for the strength and calm he had and was able to share with me.  And Rebecca was so intuitive.  She knew right what was going on just by knowing me and attending so many births.  It was so helpful and encouraging when she'd tell me what was going on just as I'd begin to wonder and lose focus a little.  It was like she knew exactly what I needed to hear and she knew exactly what I needed to do.  Even with the "moaning" I'd been doing; once I got into the tub and felt that shift, she instinctively knew to tell me to changes the "uhhhs" to "mmmms" and said that "mmmm" was a very powerful sound that would help direct the baby downward.  Added bonus: it gave me something new to focus on as the intensity of what I was feeling (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually) had grown so strong it was almost overwhelming. 

I suddenly felt so much pressure that I had a sudden urge to get up and run, which I knew from my classes was an adrenaline rush your body gets right before it expels the baby.  I took a deep breath and made the decision to "go within" to my baby and help her come out.  My body wanted to much to "push" the baby out, but because of my practicing the breathing down at home, and the calm I felt since the process had been described to me so many times, I was able to focus that pushing energy to breathing.  Once Rebecca saw what I was doing (not everyone breathes the baby out, some women plan on and prefer pushing), she directed my breathing a few different ways as the process of birthing went on.  Once I felt what is called, "the ring of fire" as the baby crowns, I reached down and felt my baby's head, still covered in the bag of waters, which popped a few seconds later.  And then her head literally popped right out.

I asked Wes what he saw, and he said it was like he blinked and looked down, and suddenly there was her whole head out!  The reason I'd had such intense pressure was because of the speed at which Peyton was coming...Rebecca described her arrival as a "freight train" haha!  Apparently, it usually takes a few to as many as twenty minutes or so for baby to crown and the head to come completely out, so all the extra pressure I felt was because of how fast she came, which I was totally fine with.  :)

Right after her head emerged, Rebecca told me that I would have a few minutes of feeling nothing....kind of a way for my body to rest up while the baby was turning inside of me to allow her shoulders to come through.  It was pretty amazing sitting there realizing that the baby was almost out!  And of course, since thing were going so fast, it was really only about 30 seconds or so before she turned and began to come out!

Rebecca noticed that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck pretty tightly, so she let Wes and I know and told us the "new plan" (We had been hoping Wes could "catch" the baby.) for Baby Stewart's delivery.  She knew how to get the cord unwrapped as quickly as possible, and then she slid our sweet girl between my legs and I reached down and pulled her out of the water and onto my chest.
That moment and every one after that was magical. I turned and sat down in the water, with Wes right next to me, and watched our tiny, sweet girl blink and take in, for the first time, the world around her.

She laid there on my chest wide-eyed and quiet. She didn't cry, she just looked around, completely stunned. Wes and I were both overjoyed as we took her in for the first time, observing her cute little mouth, her tiny fingers and toes. Our first, and tiny, daughter. Those skinny little newborn wrinkles, cord still attached, and no vernix in sight (Rebecca said that it sometimes gets absorbed before they come out when they come past the due date.), so she was clean and pink and she looked so beautiful.

Rebecca had some warmed towels handy, and she covered her in one all snug as we sat there and enjoyed our fresh-from-heaven baby. I can't even begin to describe how incredible it was to be the very first person to hold my baby and to love her up like that right at the beginning. Wes was right next to me and it was such a special moment we shared together that now we will always have.
Here we are:  I am totally shocked that I am already holing a baby!  Wes is already in complete bliss.  (Please don't pay attention to my "lovliness".  This all began at 3am and I was in and out of the tub the whole time.  I didn't have time to think about how I looked.  I'm not worried about it, but it's nothing like those pictures you see of epidural moms in the hospital who did their hair and put on makeup before they gave birth.  Just because I am not "dollled up" doesn't mean I was totally spent or had a horrible experience.  I just worked hard, and I was up all night.  But I felt absolutely amazing.
To give you an idea of how quickly this all unfolded, we arrived at the birthing center at 6:35, I climbed into the tub at 6:45, and Baby Stewart was born at 6:58am.
Proud Papa, holding his daughter for the first time.
She was very alert, and wanted to nurse right away.  She continued to do so for an hour!  Wes and I got to wait to clamp the cord until she was ready, and after the placenta was birthed, I got out of the tub and we climbed into bed and the three of us all snuggled there together (yes the bed at the birthing center is big enough for all of us!) as our baby continued nursing and Wes began calling and texting everyone to tell them our big news.
Peyton Hope Stewart - born on Saturday, June 8, 2012 at 6:58am weighing 7 lbs. 7 oz. and measuring 20 1/2 inches long.  We feel so blessed with this special arrival of our beautiful baby girl!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

aaaahhhhh!!!! Technical difficulties

Okay everyone, I know I've been terrible at blogging between this crazy pregnancy and my computer issues. 

But recently, I am having another problem:

Blogger's interface changed.

When this happened, all of a sudden one day my template was completely different.  I can't figure out how to get my old edits back (font colors, widgets, clouds, page elements, etc.) because I don't even understand how they were changed in the first place.  I know Blogger was bought by Google, and the interface changed with that, so I am guessing that's when many of the older options went away.

Does anyone out there in cyberspace know of a place I can go to get help fixing this template?  I can keep puttering away on my own, but I have a feeling there is a much easier way than how I am struggling to do it right now....anyone?  HELP!!!

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Man alive, I feel like all I do one this blog lately is updates.  But with my poor "pregnant brain", I am seriously forgetting more than normal, and writing things down helps me remember (so hopefully one day I can come back here and document the little moments better.), so bear with me.  :)

Some of the things that have been going on around here lately are:

-Kolton had his 6th birthday on March 23rd.  Crazy I know.  I can't believe I have a 6-year-old!  And being in kindergarten this year, I couldn't quite squeak by without a "friend party", so we kept things simple and away from home (no mess to clean up that way) and headed over to Jungle Jim's.  Everyone had so much fun we ended up calling their mommies and staying longer!  It was fun and simple, but still exhausting to this preggo mommy and overworking daddy, so we postponed his birthday traditions until life slowed down a little and we could really enjoy them (yes, they are still postponed.  But this year, on his birthday, he changed his tradition from flying kites to bowling, so it threw us off a little.).  Although it's hard watching my kids grow older WAY TOO FAST, I have enjoyed each stage so much that it's been okay.  Kindergarten with Kolton has been so much fun and I have had a blast learning the ropes with him at school.  Kolton is such a smart, fun little boy that it has made the whole experience that much more fun!  We love our Kolton!

-Jonah was finally tested for his development (the suggestion to do so has been made a few times since his 1-year appointment, but our pediatrician is pretty relaxed and laid back, and he kind of left it up to us to decide what to do.).  He's been slow to hit milestones (we really just think he's a bit of a late bloomer), which has been okay, but the past little while his lack of speech has been driving everyone crazy - including him.  Boy oh boy that kid can scream!  First, we really tried for a few months to teach him to point, to try to get him to spit some kind of sound out, and taught him some sign language.  He picked up on the signs right away and has continued to do so, but he still wouldn't verbalize anything, not to mention he's done many things differently than my other two boys.  He doesn't seem all that interested in certain things that most toddlers I've been around are totally excited about.  (I'd be worried about the autism spectrum a little if he wasn't so social, but thankfully, he's very social and doesn't seem to have any delays there.)  Wes and I finally decided at our five-facet review that it was time to test him and just make sure everything was okay.  He tested in the 4th percentile on speech (both talking and understanding), and the tester commented on how he walks on his toes a lot.  Apparently, sometimes that can be a sign of some sensory issues, which they've been keeping an eye on since then, and in the past month or so of testing, they have decided to send out an occupational therapist to see what he thinks.  We were told that sometimes kids with a little sensitivity in that area can be picky eaters (oh yes he is!) and slow talkers because they are to busy trying to process the environment they are in (bright lights, they way the floor looks, the texture of food, etc.).  It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.  Wes and I are grateful for such a great team helping us take care of Jonah and excited to watch him blossom as these people who are experts i their field will be able to help guide us to things that make him tick.  He's such a sweet little boy and we are glad we made the decision to be proactive about it before the baby comes so we don't rock his world too much.  He's already grown leaps and bounds since we started really focusing on signing (although still no new words vocally), so we are excited to see him blossom as this starts and we are all able to work as a knowledgeable team to help him grow and discover.

-I have been worried about my poor horse as my hip problems this pregnancy have pretty much put riding to a stop.  The last time we got him out to work him on the ground (which was also tough to do because due to the walking difficulty, I need to bring Wes with me and it's hard to pin that busy man down sometimes!), he was pretty hot and we ended up just letting him out to wander around in the pasture for a couple hours.  We tried to get out there a couple times a week after that, but the mud from the winter was just a little too difficult to deal with for both us and him (He got so excited and started running in the pasture the first time and he totally biffed it when he slid on a patch of deeper mud.  Thankfully, his ego was bruised more than anything else.).  So, it became one of those things I let simmer in the back of my brain for awhile.  But it started getting to me a little more with all the time passing by that he wasn't working.  How boring to be sitting around all day - I would hate that!  So I said a little prayer and just asked that I would know what to do.  I didn't want to even think about letting him go, but started wondering if we would be able to find room for him after baby, or if we needed to find him a new home.  But I love Rocky and I feel that his presence has been a very healing, spirit-feeding thing for me, something so special and important to my well-being.  (I still visit him often and think about him every day while I'm unable to do much with him.)  My answer came pretty quickly when a few hours later I received a text from the stable manager that some other person's horse just passed away (she was 29, I think), and she had fallen in love with Rocky (I know my opinion is biased, but he's a pretty easy guy to fall in love with....he's such a sweetheart.  He's my big ol' teddy bear).  She was wondering if she could work him and ride him while I couldn't and was willing to do so for free.  I told her to have this lady call me.  Although it sounded great, I had a few reservations.  How would she treat him?  What if he got hurt?  Was he going to be hauled to an indoor arena?  Would this help or hurt?  But I decided to give her the benefit of the double because I trust my stable manager, Debbie, and she said she'd trust this lady with her horse.  Candace gave me a call a few days later and explained that she missed her horse, but was also a little relive when she passed.  This horse had been a show horse and had kept her in the show circuit.  That was fun, but getting to be too high pressure and not something she wanted to do.  But it had also been a source of supplementary income for their family and she had been trying to think of a way to earn money with horses rather than going back to work.  While visiting Rocky one day, she had the idea that she could work him and continue his training for me for free in exchange for being able to teach some riding lessons on him at the stable arena when the weather gets nice.  She offered to help continue teaching me about horsemanship and also give us free riding lessons.  She said she'd let me know how things were going and if it wasn't going to work out.  I felt really good about it, so I decided to go for it.  Why not?  Sounded like a win-win to me.  Candace, the horse trainer, would get what she wanted, and so would I.  I'd have someone to ride him, care for him, love on him, teach him, while I couldn't.  Then I'd have a good mentor and friend to help me with him.  And Rocky isn't a high strung horse by any means, but he does have lots of energy and I love the idea of him getting used more.  And being a lesson horse would mean he'd have lots more training in the realm of children, which is something we were working on (he loves kids and is great with them, but when we ride him he looks for every little movement that might have been us asking him to run, so we've been hesitant to out our little ones on him too much yet.).  So far, things have been going fabulous and Candace has done a great job.  We love Rocky and feel so grateful that he has a new buddy to watch out for him and help him continue on the learning path we had put him on.

-Kettlebells have been my saving grace.  If I miss more than a day of working out (I exercise with them 3-4 days a week), I literally have trouble walking and getting around, not to mention I have tons more pain to deal with.  I can't go as high on the weights as I would like being pregnant and all, but it's felt good to keep in decent shape and know that it will pay off in the end.  My body has been so different this time carrying a girl.  All the pregnancy symptoms are different, and I feel much less attractive than normal (I'm not one of those cute little pregnant ladies, and this time I feel much bigger everywhere.).  I have been careful about watching my gaining, and it's on track, but I feel chubby.  I don't feel as if it looks like I'm on track.  Everyone keeps telling me that it will come off fast, and I'm trying to believe it.  I worked so hard to lose weight before I got pregnant, and I really don't want to go back to that ever again.  So for now, I'm trying to focus on the fact that my body is growing a little person inside me and that merits some changes.  I know it will all be worth it, and I keep hoping that it really will come off fast afterward because of how active I've been this time around.  Not to mention, since I've felt so much worse, I know I'm going to feel like a million bucks once I have this baby, so exercising will be a joy and walking no longer painful.  I am grateful kettlebells have kept me healthy and that I am getting around so well despite the challenges.  The relaxation practices really help as well.

-Wes has become a yard rat with me, which has been great!  He and Joe cut a tree down in our year a few weeks ago in a spot we want to extend out garden to next year.  (This year we have to let everything die and rip the rest of it out in the fall.)  He also pulled up some sod and made a fabulous spot for two 4'x8' raised bed gardens.  He even moved a sprinkler and is planning to rig me some drip irrigation.  I've been so grateful for his enthusiasm and help, and we have tagged teamed pretty well.  It's going to be a fun little hobby for out family to share in.  They boys have loved helping me in the past, and everyone loves to help eat the fresh fruits and veggies.  We are planning on throwing a couple more boxes in for tomatoes and strawberries.  Hopefully we find the time and have that yummy strawberry patch this year!  Either way, we are excited to have such a  great yard to garden in.  One more reason we love where we live.  We have absolutely LOVED having a bigger yard and it seems to have infinite possibilities.  :)

-Wes and I got called to be scout leaders in our ward.  Serendipitously, there is only one scout now, so it has been fun and not too overwhelming.  His name is Dallin and he is actually our babysitter's little brother.  He is a little sweetheart and we have had so much fun with him!  We are excited to get him caught up on his Wolf award before he turns 9 in June.  How amazing is this?  We have Dallin until June (when baby comes), and then we have no scouts until the end of August.  Then we only have one scout until we get a little group at the end of the year.  What a great way for us to "ease in" to the program, and to have a built in maternity leave is just fantastic!  We have loved getting involved in the scouting program and are excited to learn the ropes before our boys are cubs themselves.

-Micah has been thriving doing preschool with my mom and I.  He's a smart little cookie and has learned so much and thoroughly enjoyed having school with both Abby and Hallie.  I have enjoyed having special time with him each week, and also special time with my little sisters.  They are sweet, delightful kiddos and I'm thankful to get this time with them.

-Kolton has become a budding musician.  I have taught him a few duets on the piano, he has dabbled in violin off and on, and he's really sitting down on his own every day and plunking through songs and practicing anything I will teach him.  I need to get him lessons or start teaching him myself while he's so interested.  He blew my mom away the other day with his playing.  It's kind of neat to see this particular interest develop.  And my younger ones seem to be following his lead a little.

-I have been playing the Bloom game with a bunch of women from the Power of Moms board.  It has been such a fun, positive experience.  You should definitely check it out and get blooming yourself!  ;)  It's helped me a ton with my Word of the Year goals.

-We finally traded in our beloved Pilot for a minivan.  We now drive a Sienna, and I must say I love it.  I love the sliding doors, the roominess everywhere, the big trunk, and the DVD player.  It is worth it's weight in gold for sure!  I can't believe that in less than 2 months we will be toting 4 little kids around in it!

-I have also recently gotten hooked on the "Shopaholic" books.  They are hilarious!  If you are looking for a hilarious, easy read, these books are for you.  They are fabulous!

-Easter week and all its traditions has been in full swing this week.  (I will write more about it later.)  Today we will dye our eggs, and do our traditional egg lesson, Jerusalem dinner, and resurrection rolls.  I love Easter as much as Christmas and it's become even more fun as the kids get older and really start to learn and understand better what is going on. 

-Wes has started a new jumping program for volleyball this year.  Joe recently started one too, so they are constantly comparing notes and making protein shakes and doing all sorts of workouts.  It's been fun to see Wes get fired up again and he has been so dedicated so far.  I'm excited to see if he meets his goal of a 40'' vertical.  Go Wes!

-The big boys have finally learned to pump on the swings, and Jonah has figured out how to open the back door.  He will even go down our big slide all by himself (those gutsy Stewart genes).  We have thoroughly enjoyed such a mild winter and beautiful spring!  Thanks goodness for swingsets!

Well, that's all for now.  I hope you all have a wonderful Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

you would not believe

Hello, again. 

I wrote my last blog post the day I brought my new laptop home.  Four days later, it was in the shop and passed around from tech to tech until it finally made it back to Best Buy just 2 days outside the window for an exchange.  The Geek Squad let me know that my hard drive was not working and needed to be replaced.  My laptop was mailed out, supposedly on a rush delivery, and after over 2 1/2 weeks, I just received it last night and I am hoping, praying, that this is the real beginning of a normally functioning computer for me!

Our software guys have concluded that Carbonite is the issue, not viruses.  Whenever I try to restore my files, it messes up my hard drive.  I am now looking into ways to remedy that as I still have all my files over on Carbonite but want to get them back on my computer so I can use them, but I don't want to continue ruining my computer with it either.  Being the busy mom I am, I am not to literate in all things technology, so this is far from over.  Hopefully I will learn what I need to to forget this ever happened, right?  I don't even want to think about all the things I am behind on.....

Worst of all, I missed my month for my Love article over at Power of Moms.  I had the whole month all nicely outlined and we did all kinds of cute things that I couldn't document or share and now I feel like a total slacker.  I sometimes wonder if they believe me (although they don't give me any indication they don't) when I tell them again that I am having computer problems.

Anyway, I am hopeful that we are truly on the mend, although this situation has totally paranoid me about uploading pictures from my camera and such and so I currently have three full memory cards and I'm not sure where to dump them.  Hopefully I will figure it all out in time to get some cute pictures for Easter and spring....I feel like I've missed so much of our lives already!  (and yes, this very pregnant lady has shed some tears over that fact.)  So, here's to the beginning of a very overwhelming catch-up on ALL things computer (blogs, budgets, articles, pictures, etc.).  I'm guessing I will be quite the expert at the end and that this process may be the equivalent of learning how to clean and organize your home for the first time if you are not a "neat freak" by nature.  ;)

I will write an update on our lives soon, and hopefully get some much-needed pictures on here.  For now, I suddenly have two cute little boys snuggled in my bed with me vying for my attention.  Talk to you soon, blogging world!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

a book review mixed with some thoughts

Today I finished "Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method" for the first time this pregnancy.

If you are considering a natural birth, or even wondering at all about a different-than-the-norm-experience, this is definitely a must-read.  I really liked it the first time I read it back when I was pregnant with Jonah.  Now I love it.  Really love it.

It starts off with a note to the birthing mother and a separate note to the birthing companion (aka father) inspiring and motivating and just reaching out with loving arms to validate and explain the importance and amazing journey of a natural birth.  Then, the first of the book begins with a story about Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, a doctor living in the early 20th century, who accidentally discovered and subsequently became fascinated with what he calls the "Fear-Tension-Pain" syndrome in regards to childbirth.  Through personal experience (he was an ob/gyn), and extensive research, he theorized (correctly) that the only pain most women experience during childbirth is due to the fact that there is belief that childbirth needs to be painful.  He watched women in several other cultures give birth, quietly and calmly and without complication of any kind.  None of these women "pushed" the baby out, none of these women thought of the process as something painful, as was implied by the conversations he shared with them.  Later on, he concluded that there was something going on in the brain that blocks out pain - endorphins - much earlier than they'd ever been discovered.  We know know medically speaking that endorphins are over 200 times stronger than morphine as far as pain relief goes....isn't that amazing?!

The author, Marie Mongan, then shares her birthing experiences and those of her daughter (who had the very first official hypnobirthing baby).  They are though-provoking and inspiring.  I felt so validated realizing that there must be hundreds - even thousands - of women out there in the world today who believe childbirth to be a spiritual, uplifting, primal, sensual journey - a gift from God.  It was amazing knowing that how I've felt about bonding with my baby, feeling a connection to each individual child in the womb, feeling that extra spiritual connection to God, nature, and my baby, is not something only I am familiar with.  There are many, many women with similar thoughts and beliefs.

After the author shares her personal experience, she writes about a period in history in which childbirth was considered a punishment from God, a horrific experience, something shameful and terrible.  There are horror stories from that point in history on to where it's evolved today.  Today, much has changed for the better.  Husbands are allowed to be a part of the action.  Women can find a practitioner who will respect and honor her wishes.  There are many necessary medical advances that have saved the lives of thousands of babies and mothers alike. 

But, much is still lost.  I think women obsess over due dates.  They obsess over the fear of pain and plan on medicated births or even c-sections as a "normal birth".  I strongly believe there is a very real time and place for these kinds of interventions, but I also believe that they are terribly overused.  What is missing and continues to be missing for many women is sad.  (I am speaking as one....I felt there was much missing from each of my previous births.  I also feel that my recovery was affected by how I was treated and how the births were handled.)  If a woman want to go to the hospital, receive her epidural, spend the rest of her time birthing confined to a bed, hooked up to monitors, feeling like the birth of their child is a public event (seriously, did you ever wonder how many people really need to be staring at your you-know-what while you are pushing your baby out?), only to hold her baby after numerous "necessary" checks and interventions, (Goodness, I was stunned and left with much to be desired after every single hospital birth I've experienced.) she is the mother and it's her decision what she feels is best for her and her baby.

But I feel sad about the fact that that was me at one time.....only because of how little I knew, and also because of the "childbirth stories" that had been shared to me by many friends and relatives.  (Haven't you noticed that when one woman has a horrific birthing experience, the worse it is, the bigger the pat on the back?)  I was much too scared of the alternative - what I envisioned as screaming through the ordeal, wondering if I would survive, only to be more exhausted at the end of it all.  It seemed so easy for me to decide that I would get to the hospital at the appropriate time, receive my pain medication, so I could enjoy the process and receive a clean, bright-eyed baby in my arms while everyone around me worried about all the other details.  Who would choose a natural birth?!

Then, my best friend, who can't receive an epidural because of her fused spine, came across hypnobirthing with her second child.  Her two "natural" birthing experiences were so different I couldn't believe it.  Not to mention how quickly she recovered compared to me.  I decided it was worth trying when I was pregnant with Jonah, but didn't have a total belief in it actually being a possibility for every mother, not to mention a doctor who was very much against natural birth and got extremely curt, disrespectful, and unsupportive every time I brought the idea of an unmedicated birth up.  (I didn't realize at the time how that one thing - not having the right practitioner - would sabotage all the effort I was making in trying to do things naturally.)  But, even though I didn't get the birth I wanted, it was a better experience than the first two times, I felt more knowledgable going in, and my recovery was so much better I couldn't believe it myself.  It left me wanting to try "going natural" again rather than giving up.  Then, my best friend got pregnant again and had a waterbirth at home with a midwife.  It was such a special, spiritual experience for her and her family.  Her husband, who had been very much uncomfortable and frightened of the whole expereince (although willing to be supportive and let her do things her way), raved so much about it going even as far as saying that there should be an opportunity for every man (and woman) to be a part of the birthing experience (he "caught" their baby).  He was on a high - they both were - for months!  They totally inspired Wes and me.  It felt so right to choose a different route this time, and the farther along we travel, the more certain we are that we made the right decision for our family and our baby.

So, fast forward several months.  We are now in the 26th week of this pregnancy.  Only three months or so until the day arrives that we will hold our daughter for the very first time.  I am literally brought to tears when I read this book, watch videos of other hypnobirths (if you want to see what I am so excited about, check out my current favorite hypnobirthing videos here, here, and here.), and visualize the day I give birth.  I am soaking in the books, articles, and relaxation practice.  My heart feels so full of gratitude, anticipation, excitement, and joy.  I strongly believe that this is what the Lord wants for our baby as well as Wes and I.  I am eager to really "be there" on our baby's birthday and know that all of this is truly happening.

Back to the book:  there is a section teaching breathing techniques, a couple sections teaching relaxation and deepening techniques, a section for nutrition and one for exercise.  I skipped over the section about how to find a practitioner and writing a birth plan, but it's there, and it helped a lot last time.  I thoroughly enjoyed the sections about preparation, labor, and delivery.  I also thought it was cute to add in a section about the "babymoon" for first-time parents.  Of course, the author brushed on breastfeeding as well.

All in all, a very thorough, fun-to-read, informative book.  I feel so uplifted and inspired when I read it!  One of my favorite chapters right now (that I forgot to mention before) is about getting to know your baby before she's born.  There are several studies shared about newborns and their interactions before birth.  Very interesting and endearing stuff.  Also common sense, but for some reason, that stuff didn't really have much of an impact on me until now.  Maybe I've stayed more connected with God, myself, and the baby this pregnancy.  Maybe I'm just better at the process.  Maybe I'm just paying more attention.  Who knows?  All I know is that right now, I feel so connected to my husband and my baby as we travel this road together.  I feel like we will know each other and the moment I first hold her in my arms will be more magical than about anything I've ever experienced (of course, the first three times were pretty magical too....just much briefer).  The thing that touches me most about the birthing videos I've watched is that you can see from the moment baby is born that he/she knows Mommy.  Oftentimes there isn't even crying for a few minutes.  It's been very moving to me.

Feeling so connected has had other advantages.  I've noticed more about what I need.  Lately, I've been moving at a slower pace throughout the day, taking breaks and resting when I need it.  I've been exercising and paying attention to how much water I am drinking.  I notice right away if something feels overwhelming or hard, and I deal with it immediately - sometimes that means sucking it up and doing it, sometimes it means delegating or accepting help, sometimes it means letting go.  I've always been slightly annoyed when people act like I can't or shouldn't do something because I'm pregnant.  I'm not broken, people.  I'm doing something that is completely natural and has gone on since the very beginning of life.  That means that people in all kinds of situations have "survived" this just fine.  But now I humbly realize that even though yes, I am not broken, I am pregnant.  And being pregnant does merit some caution and extra care.  (Especially since this pregnancy has been by far the hardest!)  My body is working hard to nurture a baby, and I need to help the process along, as well as understand that it is compromising some of my health (stretching and squishing all over, brain energy, sleep, mental focus, emotions, physical energy and abilities, breathing, digestion, etc.) to do so, and it is of utmost importance that I take care to notice my needs and abilities.  Not to mention that is makes the whole process so much more enjoyable and fun!

As of late, I've struggled with some pelvic issues.  As we all know, when you are pregnant, your cartilage becomes soft and stretchy - compare a zipper to a rubber band - and it can cause things to shift and move in ways that are not comfortable (to say the least!).  Sometimes the baby's position can affect things also.  Something I've had to really make myself do despite whether or not I feel like it, is to move less throughout the day (walking, picking up heavy things like laundry, toddlers, etc.), but exercise more - especially in ways that strengthen the muscles around my pelvis so they can help hold it in place.  There are times when I am in so much pain I can barely walk, but if I can grin and bear it and pull out those kettlebells, I am miraculously better afterward.  I feel so much better that I can't believe it myself, and it makes it easy to stay committed to it despite how much I don't want to do it at times.  I know this is going to pay off when the big day comes, and also as my body begins to recover from pregnancy.  :) 

Each day, I am more excited about giving birth and having a totally different experience.  The decisions Wes and I have made have truly been united (he feels as strongly - if not more strongly - as I do about all this.  He's also been much more involved in the preparation process this time, which has been such a blessing.).  I hear about and notice the bonding that goes in between husband and wife during natural birth, not to mention I feel it in our lives as we "practice" together and talk often about the process, and I can't wait to do this together!

I'm sure I've rambled on about this enough now, but I wanted to remember what I am learning and my thoughts about the process.  I feel very blessed to live at a time when there are so many options for giving birth, and that it truly is a safe and natural process.  I look forward to a beautiful experience that I will treasure forever.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

full of joy and gratitude

This morning as I kissed Wes goodbye for work, I had the sudden urge to write.  For the moment, everyone is still sleeping peacefully and all is well, so I thought I'd give in and write.

So much has happened since I've really blogged, I'm not even sure where to begin.  My heart feels like it is spilling over with gratitude, joy, peace, and awe about so many wonderful things in our lives right now.  It feels so good to experience that kind of contentment....being sick and treating it holistically, being out of our old place and finally moving forward with our lives has truly been a few of the scariest, most challenging experiences of our lives....but also some of the most rewarding by far.  Life just feels so rich right now.  It feels so right.  Like we are back where God intended...to me there is no replacement for that kind of peace and joy.

Spending three or four months in bed has a way of putting you so far behind in practically all areas of life: I haven't pulled out my camera since Christmas, uploaded photos since September, I haven't exercised much since learning I was pregnant, I've watched and let my family watch way too much television, the house has quickly fallen apart and everyone's forgotten what it's like to clean and pick up after themselves, etc.  Needless to say, January has been one of the busiest months because rather than resting after a busy Christmas, I've had to whip everyone (myself included) back into shape and back onto a solid routine.  Man alive, it was a lot of work.  There are still a few kinks to deal with, a few loose ends to tie up....a little more to do, but I feel like we are now "normal" busy and behind instead of so far behind I don't even know where to start.

Things are slowly seeping in as we make room for them.  The house is pretty clean at this point (thanks in part to Flylady and thanks in part to an amazing housekeeper), everyone's pretty well rested and back on the daily routine (with some improvements), we've had some time for more "fun" things - extra things - lately.  I had a massage and pedicure at a spa this week (Wes' Valentine's gift to me last year), this weekend we fed the ducks, made cookies, went for walks, played in the snow, had a movie/pizza night, I had a much needed girls' night with one of my best friends, Wes had some guy time at basketball (a new hobby he's decided to pick up), and read lots of books.  It's been so hard to stay in survival mode past Christmas for a bit, and even harder to ask for help when I need it, but I was thinking yesterday as we enjoyed a completely fun and relaxing Saturday, that it was sooo worth it!  It's so much easier for me to be "in the moment" when I am not overwhelmed with the chaos around me.  I feel peace when things are running at least semi-smoothly.  It's easier to find that "balance" we all look for, as well as the fact that my mind feels clear and refreshed instead of foggy and bogged down.  I feel grateful and inspired and motivated instead of overwhelmed, overworked, and overburdened.

Our family is in the process of undergoing many changes from big to small.  It feels like there's so much gong on I don't even know where to begin to share or explain it, but I will say that it's been a good thing, and everyone seems to be adjusting fairly well.

I am excited to see things continue to unfold.  I am in awe as I watch our boys all suddenly seem to grown up.  I am blown away when I realize that there is less than 18 weeks (give or take) to when little girl Stewart arrives and brings with her many more changes for the better to our family.

On to pregnancy news.  I am getting more and more excited and happy about my choice to go with a midwife/birthing center this time around.  It's starting to really sink in:  the approaching need for lots of "practice" for hypnobirthing relaxation, the need to prepare in every way for this big change and not spending a couple days in the hospital, but going home the same day I give birth (or the next morning if that be the case).  Every time I go visit my midwife, I feel more and more comfortable, excited, and relaxed about the upcoming joyful even that will be our daughter's birth.  I am excited for Wes to have the experience of "catching" our baby, excited and overjoyed to hold her the moment she enters the world, to soak in those precious moments when our brand-new baby girl arrives straight from heaven into a calm, peaceful, joyful environment surrounded only by a few intimate onlookers rather than armies of doctors, nurses, interns, etc.  I am so grateful that both baby and pregnancy have allowed me to qualify for such an experience with good health and a peaceful spirit.

My last appointment was Friday.  After having the best ultrasound I've ever had (I know how silly that sounds, but our experience seriously doesn't even compare to anything I've experienced before as far as an ultrasound goes.  I learned a lot, felt like I really got to know my little girl a little more, and enjoyed the process as the tech took the liberty of not only telling me repeatedly how beautiful our little daughter was, but explained in detail every part of the ultrasound and what she was checking, and how our little one was faring.), it was fun to cement i the experience by having - for the first time ever - the ultrasound results explained to me.  I had no idea how much they can tell from an ultrasound!  (Did you know they can estimate pretty accurately how big the baby's head will be at term?  I didn't.)  I love how my midwife turns having a baby from a medical experience into a family experience, involving everyone in a fun and loving way.  She is an amazing woman and I feel so confident in her abilities.  I love the way she wants to ask me questions, know my thoughts regarding pregnancy and birth, give me choices whenever possible (did you know you don't have to drink that icky stuff for the gestational diabetes test?!  It's actually more accurate to eat what you would normally eat for breakfast, not eat for two hours, and then have your blood drawn to see how your body is doing on your regular diet?  I know.....totally awesome.), and hear about every ache and pain and question, no matter how big or small, that I have.

I have had lots of good conversations with both my midwife and my best girlfriend (who will be acting as my doula) about labor and giving birth.  I have devoured my hypnobirthing book.  Interestingly enough, different parts have stuck out to me this time around....perhaps from not having to worry about focusing on how to explain and express our preferences but instead focus that energy into how to prepare for the big day.  I can actually visualize holding our wet, fresh baby close to my chest, watching her take in the world around her for the first time.  I am actually excited to see how different things will be, how differently a newborn will respond to such a different environment.  I have a feeling I will wish I'd learned about all of this much sooner!

Well, I have little people crawling on my bed now as I type, so I guess it's time to save my thoughts for another day.  I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday.  Hugs!

Friday, January 27, 2012

january article on loyalty and dependability

Hey Everyone -

I know I've been busy for awhile, but I am excited to say that I am finally back to writing over at Power of Moms!  You can find my article here.  I am excited to FINALLY be feeling great and writing again.  Hopefully I will have more to say here as well as soon as I tie up the last of the loose ends left from spending 3 or 4 months in bed.  :)

Hint: there is a giveaway at the end, so be sure to comment!

Have a great weekend!  Hugs!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

mommy burnout

I keep hoping today will be the day I get to blog a little more.  Christmas week through now we've had pink eye run through all three boys, sinus infections, Hand-Foot-Mouth disease, and just the regular "post-Christmas grouchies".  On top of that, my hips have been SO sore recently that some days walking or standing is almost unbearable, and I can't sleep because they go numb when I lay in my bed.  On the upside, although I am still nauseous, but I'm only throwing up a few times a week and I can eat my normal, healthier diet again....I will definitely take the pain over the nausea!

I've had my hands a little full preparing, trying to sort through hand-me-downs (thanks Mom!), and figuring out what we need and when, but it has definitely made things more exciting knowing we have a little girl coming this time.  We can't wait to meet her and are so excited that we are going with the birthing center, so we will have lots of snuggle and alone time with her when she's fresh from heaven.  :)

I have so much to share and write. I have a list of blog posts with titles so I will remember what I wanted to blog about.  But I am going to keep this post short since I've still got three sick little boys to attend to and they are all stirring early this morning and need Mommy a little more than normal right now.

This Christmas blew right by, but we loved it.  We had to oust a lot of things we normally do, for various reasons, mainly being that I was too sick for some things, or Wes' schedule combined with all the things both our families do didn't allow for much immediate family time.  All in all, it was a wonderful, magical Christmas that was special in its own way, although part of me this year is glad to move forward and put all the "extra parts" behind us.  New Years was spent at home alone with sick kids, so it was fairly quiet, but honestly, that was just what we needed. Wes and I are tired. I do have my Word of the Year all picked out and I'm really excited about it, but I will share later since I have a lot of updates to do, and although I've thought about specific goals, I haven't had a chance to write them down yet.  (But let me tell you, this is an exciting and symbolic word, and I can't wait to share it!)

Something I did want to share was how much Jonah is growing.  When we took him in for his 16-month appointment, he wasn't walking or talking yet (which didn't really worry me because Micah was almost 18 months when he finally decided to walk, and he stayed pretty quiet and nonverbal until he hit 2 1/2 or 3.), and the doctor was concerned about how little he was doing.  He said he wanted to test him for autism and other learning and developmental disorders is he wasn't walking and talking by his next appointment in 2 months.  (This was at the same time Micah was going through his stint with the preschool, so I was starting to feel like a really terrible mother.)  Fast forward to now, 2 1/2 months later, and he's not only walking, he's running all over and having a fabulous time "toddlerizing" our house.  His favorite thing to get into:  the garbage can and kitchen cupboards, and pulling freshly cleaned, folded clothes out of the laundry baskets.  He was kept us very busy while he gleefully keeps busy.  (Thank goodness he didn't discover the Christmas tree until a few days before Christmas!)  Jonah has also turned into a little sponge lately.  I've been very casually teaching him a few signs for things to test the waters, and suddenly he knows every sign he sees and seems to learn them pretty quickly. His favorites are dog, more, and eat.  I need to pop him and myself in a little class or find a few books to teach him more.  He's also learned to identify lots of body parts: hair, ears, teeth, tongue, toes, belly button, fingers, and nose.  He loves to sing "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" and will attempt the actions by himself, to our delight.  Something the doctor really wanted us to work on was pointing, and although he isn't doing it yet, he's reaching for things and has attempted to make a pointy finger a few times, so I think we are on the verge of it.  Jonah still only says, "Mommy, Daddy, and tickle", but is motivated to say things and is just soaking in everything about the world around him, and his discoveries are so fun to share and be a part of (he spotted balloons at Walmart yesterday and thought they were so amazing.  He was reaching for them and babbling noises - even attempting the word balloon "baba" the whole time we shopped).  He's starting to really love books and little songs and playing and interacting with others.  He's continually discovering the world around him, and falling more in love with it in the process.  I love his fun-loving, humorous, joyful personality and am trying to soak in every moment because he's just beginning to leave the baby stage and it seems at times that he grows and changes by the minute.  I am so thankful he is still a "Mommy's boy" and that he loves to be held and snuggled when he's tired.  I love that sweet baby boy and I am so relieved and proud of the strides he is making.

Well, that's it for now.  I'm hoping to begin tacking the list of "posts to write" and get my articles for this month's value (it's a good one!) done for Power of Moms.  I will let you all know when they are up (there are lots of exciting changes in that area as well, but I will share later).  Right now I'd better arm myself with what I need to begin administering eyedrops to three VERY reluctant little boys (please share if you have any tips!).  Wish me luck!


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