Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Revelation

Why are the most simple tasks so difficult with a new baby? Why can't I get myself together? What am I doing with my life? Do I even deserve a shower today? Should my new nick name be "Moo"?

These are the questions I mull over in the middle of the night and I'm proud to say, I've had a revelation. Stay at home moms are not given a job description, y'all. The needs of your little people are constantly changing and so, naturally, the job changes, too. It's like being given a new project every morning, but in a foreign language. Our babies aren't guaranteed a clean bill of health upon arrival. They don't come with a manual, mapping out their personalities, likes and dislikes and so on. You are left alone to fumble through and figure it out as you go along. Whether biological, adopted or fostered, these little people come to you as strangers. They are the boss but the training is boot camp while wearing a blind fold. It takes way too long to figure them out, and then they change. Because the job was just getting too easy, right?

With a new baby, I find myself in this familiar place. I feel inadequate, used up and under qualified. I'm frozen with insecurity. How is it that I've got a 5 year old and a 3 year old? Did I really sustain them this long with my mama skills? What are those skills anyway?

I definitely feel underpaid!

A friend of mine shared this video and it brought me to tears (a normal part of my routine these days). 

I'd love to see an entire documentary on SAHM's just to be encouraged and reminded that I'm not alone. Millions of women around the world are serving every day in this simple yet profound way. Healing, feeding, teaching and bringing hope to these little lives. We are sustaining them and raising them up. It's mundane and even humiliating at times, but it's so so worth it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

8 Years and Hope for the Future

We are making our way through life together as a married couple. It's been 8 years since we made the biggest commitment of our lives and although we've already failed (miserably!), I'm happy to say that we love each other more now than ever before. Forgiveness and grace go a looooong way!!

For an anniversary gift, we decided to order this amazing print done by our talented friend Caleb Faires.

Image of "A Thrill of Hope"

Hope is the very thing we need in our marriages. Hope for change, hope for healing and hope for joy. As we enter the season of advent, I am reminded that there is reason to hope for these things. God came down to man to save us from depravity and give us eternal hope of restoration. And after 8 years of marriage, I have proof of God's faithfulness to us specifically. We are, in fact, changing, and it's a glorious thing.

The last few years, we've gotten art for our anniversary and I think it's going to be our tradition. It'll be cool to fill our home with various pieces collected throughout our marriage!

Love what you see? Order your print (3 available sizes) HERE.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

3 Weeks!

The photographer and her muse :)

{to my real photographer friends - I did what I could with what I got :) }

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Honeymoon Stage is OVER!

Back to life, back to reality.

Honestly, Ruthie Mae is great. She often puts herself to sleep without a fuss and eats and burps well (and quickly!). That's all you can hope for in a newborn. We are approaching the 3 week mark where the typical 24 hour eat fest commences. It's also a time where most mamas get weepy as their hormones settle and adjust, yet again. So far, I've only broken down in tears twice, and both times were late at night after a looooong day. That's normal, right?

Dan is back at work although I'm not sure how much work he's getting done.

 I am forever grateful for the solid 2 hours of sleep he gives me every morning. Not to mention keeping up with the dishes and laundry. We're all a little stretched these days, but I'm hoping life settles down soon. Just in time for the holidays....sheesh.

An alternate name for this post could be "InstaRuthie". I know moms who only take pictures of their children with their phones. Well call me Judge McJudgerson because I used to think those ladies were just being lazy. Now, I' older and one child wiser! It's a miracle just to remember to photograph the third child at all!!

Dan will be gone this weekend on an elder's retreat. I'm praying and hoping I survive, but I'm expecting the worst. Thinking about teaching Elijah how to use the crock pot. No! I'll teach him how to order a pizza!! 

Alright, I think we'll make it to Sunday.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

5 Surprises About the 4th Trimester

Ahh, the dreaded 4th trimester. You made it through labor, the baby is here and everyone is gushing. Pretty happy times right?

Enter :
dark lonely nights
the belly that just won't go away!

Honestly, I love the newborn stage, but I know many women struggle through this short yet difficult time. It's hard transitioning into a completely new role with little to no energy or brain power. You're desperate for sleep throughout the night and even more desperate for patience in those daytime hours.

I've had an easy 4th trimester so far. I'd like to thank my postpartum care team (sisters, mom, dad, Dan and the boys and all those church ladies bringing me meals) for that! I spent an entire week in bed after the delivery. That gave me lots of time to rest and heal while also bonding with little Ruthie Mae.

These things surprised me at first, but now I know better. After three healthy births and babies, this is my short list of things I've learned about the 4th trimester:

1. Bonding matters. All of those natural granola mama books are right. Bonding with your new baby is seriously important! I know it sounds silly - how could you NOT bond with your baby? But there are lots of things that can get in the way (I won't go into all of that....). Like many relationships, you need time and proximity to deepen the connection between you and your bundle. You need privacy and closeness to figure out that sometimes awkward breastfeeding dance. It takes time to grow together and learn your baby's language. I'm thankful to have had the time and space to connect with Ruthie. It's something I was worried about with two rowdy boys running around the house!

2. Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn't always feel that way. Just because something is "natural", it doesn't mean it's simple or easy. Yes, our bodies make food for our babies naturally and that is an amazing thing! But feeding the baby with your body is sometimes awkward. Ruthie Mae is my third baby, so you'd think I would have this breastfeeding thing down pat. NOPE. Each baby is different. Heck, your body is different after each baby (am I right mamas?). It is hard work figuring out this new give/take relationship and it doesn't always go smoothly. So far, I've had very different experiences with all three of my children and Ruthie has been the most challenging. We've got it all figured out now but it hasn't been easy and that's okay.

3. You will still look pregnant. I remember how shocked I was to see myself in a mirror 3 days after giving birth to Elijah. Every morning, my mom would say in the sweetest voice "oh, honey, you're belly is getting smaller". I wanted to yell back "What??? I look like I'm still 5 months pregnant!!! ARG!". This time around, I've embraced the post baby belly and bought myself a belly wrap. It's actually helped my belly shrink a lot faster this time around. It also helped me feel better in that first postpartum week where every muscle feels sore and used up. I'll start running again but not until Ruthie Mae is 8 weeks old. What's important now is that I eat and rest so I can sustain this little person!

(this was taken just hours after Ruthie was born)

4. Invest in what helps. There are so many baby gadgets out there and many of them are 10 times the size of your actual baby (vibrating/singing monster swings, anyone?). We don't use a lot of the recommended gear, but I will say some things are worth it. If you've got other kids who can't be trusted near the little one, get the gear that will make you feel safe to grab a shower during the day.

I am most interested in the carriers. I like to wear my babies constantly for the first few months. Partly because I love having them close, but it also keeps them safe from excited older brothers :) My new favorite way to wear a baby is with my NuRoo (thanks mom!!). It's a shirt wrap that is very similar to a Moby, but way more simple and easy to use.

5. Sleep when baby sleeps. This is nothing new to me as I've heard it time and again. BUT, this is the first time I've actually headed such advice and letmetellyou-it WORKS! If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, am I right? So, when it's 7pm and baby just ate and is asleep, Go. To. Bed. If your friend comes for a visit, pass off the baby and grab a nap. It's amazing what 20 minutes can do! Getting a total of 6-8 hours of sleep a day helps me to get through the day. And that's all a new mama can hope for right? Just survive....

I cannot believe we are already in week 3 of this postpartum stage. The Holidays are coming and I plan on embracing my new squishy form with each bite of Thanksgiving pie. Submitting to this postpartum stage is the best thing I've done for myself and for Ruthie. There's plenty of time to get back to my hobbies and lose the baby weight, but for now, I'm going to enjoy the slowness of life that comes with having a newborn.

Friday, November 15, 2013


These sweet faces!! Three completely different people but so many similarities.



Ruthie Mae

So far, Ruthie Mae looks a lot like her brothers, but in her own feminine way. I think she also came out with the most hair. Apparently, pregnant ladies get more heartburn if their babies have lots of hair. Wives tale or not, it was true for me!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Saying Goodbye to the Help

I was alone with all three kids for the second time this morning. So far, when I'm left alone with them, they all poop at the same time! What's with that???

Anyway, my mom has been here washing dishes and doing laundry (not to mention delivering my baby, ha!) for over 2 weeks. My parents left this morning and I'm pulling out the paper plates! Meals from church members are starting to come and I am SOOO grateful for that!

My parents had a blast exploring Bellingham with the boys while I enjoyed lots of time in bed. I'm going to miss their help around here!

Grandma and Grandpa with Ruthie Mae.

We had a nice fire with cake and presents on my birthday the other night.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Going to Bed Early on my 30th Birthday

It's amazing how much changes in a week. Last Sunday was an incredibly challenging day. Today, I'm celebrating my 30th birthday while also celebrating my daughter's first week of life. I always imagined I would enter my 30's with friends and food and a killer dance party. Or maybe a fancy dinner out with Dan in a new little black dress. Instead, I will most likely be in leggings all day and be in bed by 8pm. 

I'm so blessed to have such an important (and precious) reason to stay in on my 30th birthday!

Happy 30 years to ME and an even happier 7 days to Ruthie Mae!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


When Ruthie was born, I immediately checked to make sure she was a girl. Am I the only mama who does this? Anyway, she looked so much like Lazarus, I thought I had another boy on my hands! Dan and I find ourselves comparing her to the boys. She shares so many features with them both, but is definitely her own person as well. As each minute passes, she becomes more and more of a little lady.

We are all just soaking in this newborn magic.

Elijah is SO proud to be his little sister's protector.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ruth's Birth Story


Do not be afraid.

Be still.

God spoke to me through Ruthie Mae's birth. In His kindness, he gave me peace through scripture, my family, friends, midwives and prayer. He reminded me that I was made for this. I was created for HIS glory and giving birth is part of how I am meant to do that. All of our stories differ and we are each called to our own separate paths of glorifying Him. Still, God meets us in our weakness and carries us through, fulfilling His purposes.

I am blessed with a family who is loving and faithful. We are far from perfect but we love deeply and pursue community with one another. It's only natural that my sisters and mother flew 3,000 miles to be with my as I welcomed my first daughter into the world. Not only that, but they are skilled and passionate about childbirth. I am blessed!!

But, there are downsides to hosting your birth team. Once everyone had landed, I became a watched pot. It's only natural for all of us to be excited and ready to get the show on the road! We kept busy with activity, all while praying it would happen before everyone boarded their planes back home. God answered our prayers. In His graciousness, it all worked perfectly.

Last Saturday night, I was up every 8 minutes with contractions. As a doula (and a third time mama!), I know better than to wake anyone up at this stage. I spent a few hours eating and timing contractions while watching episodes of Nashville. Around 3am, my mom listened to Ruthie with the doppler and I was able to get back to bed, knowing she was safe and sound inside my working womb. After a few hours of fitful but needed sleep, Sunday morning came. Dan went to work early to prepare for the church service and my sisters followed soon after with the boys. It was time for my mom and I to get to work!

On a beautiful fall day, we walked around the neighborhood. I was 2cm dilated at this point and knew I could easily stay that way for some time. After taking some herbs, my contractions became more intense. By the time everyone came home for lunch, I was getting irritated by noise which is a good sign! Friends from church picked up the boys that afternoon for a play date (again, God's provision!!) and my body got into a rhythm. Our Bellingham midwife Alli arrived and gave me the best news : 5-6cm dilated, 80% effaced and baby is quite low! Translation: We're going to meet our daughter tonight!!

The tub was filled and the hardest work began.

I'm a practical person and having been through natural childbirth twice before, I knew I would be okay. Still, each birth story is different and the element of surprise was very much at the front of my mind. My contractions were like nothing I've felt before. They were long and came without warning. There was no "let it build to the peak and ride it down slowly....". These surges came on at full force and stayed for 60-90 seconds straight, one on top of the other. At this point, it was mind over matter.

Matter : "Protect yourself! You're going to split apart!"

Mind : "This pain is productive. You'll be okay."

Matter : "This pain will kill you! Run for your life!"

Mind : "Breath slow and low. Let your body open up. Do not fight it."

I needed support. I needed prayer. I needed to get out of my head and focus at the task at hand, one contraction at a time.

The most encouraging news came to me around 7:30pm. I was 9 cm and so close to meeting my daughter! Determined to be done, I changed positions, working hard to move that last centimeter of cervix. I was incredibly encouraged by the women I work with as a doula. Remembering their hard work and perseverance gave me strength at this point in labor. I'm so thankful for all of those mamas who have taught me so much about birth!

Moments later, my water broke and things got serious. The room got busy as my mom and Alli prepared for the delivery. Gloves were snapping and I was yelling "Cold rag! Face!" as I felt like my skin was melting off. I also knew it would be over soon.

My work was not in vain. The pain was indeed productive. It would not kill me but was bringing forth LIFE.

Breathing becomes a struggle for me at this point. For some reason, I always hyperventilate. I did have more control over the actual delivery though, which has spared me a lot of post partum pain, thank goodness!!

The picture below explains it all. Me in the worst pain of my life with a proud Dan behind me, reminding me these truths:

This is indeed bigger than me.
Submit to this moment.

He was an immense encouragement to me!

After no time at all, Ruth left her cozy home of 9 months. A new soul with a unique identity came into the world and changed my life forever. It was 8:33pm on Sunday night, just a handful of hours since the beginning of active labor. We all rejoiced.

Relief and gratitude.

My prize.

My joy.

We marveled at the miracle of birth and praised our Heavenly Father for this gift.

This pregnancy has been filled with challenges, but not without purpose. I am incredibly thankful for my birth team. They served me well and reminded me once again that childbirth is nothing to be feared. No, women walk into it knowing our bodies were made to bring forth life. We were given this miraculous task by the creator Himself and He is the one who carries us through!
{My sisters Abby and Sarah, my mom, Alli the midwife and not pictured-my dear friend Shannon, the photographer}

Welcome to the world Ruthie Mae. I am honored to be your mama and look forward to serving you as long as the Lord gives me the privilege to do so.

For anyone in the Bellingham area, I highly recommend Allison Watkins with Haven Midwifery as a midwife. We are so thankful to have found her!!!