Monday, March 31, 2014

Juniper Grace // 2 Months

Miss June has been a part of our family for a little over two months now. 
Things are just as crazy as we expected them to be and I LOVE it. Seriously. Even when I'm crying (or cursing) in my pajamas with dried spit up and two upset girls I can't imagine myself doing anything else. Penny has adjusted very well to having a baby around (much better than I anticipated) and it is so fun to see her interact with her sister. Because I'm either cleaning or napping during any free time I have, I haven't updated the blog in a while so I thought I'd share a few photos of June's development thus far.

As I continue to learn about June and watch her personality grow, I'm finding that she is very sweet and sensitive. She knows what she likes and doesn't like and will be sure to tell us immediately. She is very smiley and has the most adorable coos. She loves to be held/carried and wants to bounce constantly. She sleeps very well for her age and is easily put to sleep most of the time. As much as I love the first few weeks of life where they are sleepy and super cuddly, I really love when they begin to interact. It's so excited to know that we have many "firsts" ahead of us. I'm so excited for when she'll reach the age that she and Penny can play together. I don't want to rush too quickly through these first months, but I look forward to the future.

Every time I attempt to take nice pictures of the girls, chaos ensues (notice the footprints in June's 2 month pictures...). I'm certain that for every decent picture I get, I have to take 30 awful ones first. So either those trendy mom-bloggers spend all stinkin' day taking photos of their children, or I'm just the exception where life doesn't always look pretty, fashionable, and well lit :) Regardless, I've accepted it, embraced it, and even managed to find beauty and joy (and humor) in it. For instance, notice a toddler hand in the upper right corner stealing a toy that she is convinced is hers...

As I said earlier, one of my greatest joys is getting to watch Penny interact with her sister. It has been fun to see the caring, compassionate side of her come out. Whenever she walks by June she points and says "buh-bay" and if she's sleeping she'll put her finger to her nose and say "sssssss". If June is crying, she will pat her head (usually too forcefully) or try to shove the pacifier in her mouth. I've caught her trying to pick June up or feed her snacks, as well. Her innocence in trying to help if very sweet. I'm always amazed at how quickly she learns from me. It didn't take long before I saw her picking up her babies and burping them or rocking with them...followed by tossing them across the living room. I definitely don't do that.

I'm so thankful for my little June-bug and look forward to the many memories we'll make as a family of four this spring and summer.
 Snuggling with daddy.
 Those pouty lips are my favorite.
Saturday, February 1, 2014

Juniper Grace // Birth Story Pt. 2

I slowly waddled my way across the hospital to labor and delivery (the midwives office is attached) and tried to walk through each contraction. Even though I was certain that I wanted the epidural, I was really nervous that it was going to slow things down so I remember telling the nurse that I could still manage the contractions for a little while longer (but every time another contraction hit I found myself changing my mind!). We unpacked our things and settled into the room. I finally lost my mucous plug when I went to the bathroom (something I was expecting to lose before labor started). Truman put the playlist on, my mom got the essential oil diffuser running, and the nurse hooked me up to the monitor. I wasn't cold, but my body started shaking with nerves. I was nervous for the procedure of the epidural and I was nervous that baby girl's entry into the world was going to be as violent as Penny's was (vacuum, episiotomy). My mom massaged my legs while I took deep breaths of my essential oils, read through scripture, and texted friends/family with updates. It helped to get my mind off of delivery.
When the anesthesiologist arrived, he whipped open the curtain and said "someone having a baby!?" He was really fun and liked to crack jokes so that helped to relieve some nerves. I warned him that he would need to talk me through the procedure and he gladly did. I sat on the edge of the bed while Truman and the nurse held my hand. The worst part was having to sit still through the contractions. There were only a few times where the pressure/pain of the tube was really uncomfortable and I just repeated "I can do this" over and over. I remember feeling a little silly giving myself a pep talk in front of the nurse--I'm sure she's seen worse. The anesthesiologist commented that he liked my playlist, told us congratulations, and was on his way. 

As my legs and abdomen slowly started to numb I was able to relax a bit. The break from the contractions was much needed. I wasn't keeping track of time, but the next few hours were spent resting as much as possible. Truman went to the cafeteria to grab lunch while my mom stayed with me. The pain of the contractions was gone, but I still felt a lot of pressure through each one and it was causing me to be slightly nauseous. She was sitting on the edge of my bed rubbing my arm when I felt an increased amount of pressure in my abdomen. All of a sudden this loud burst of noise comes over the monitor and my water breaks (bursts, actually) causing us both to jump. My mom shot off the bed and we laughed hysterically. Thankfully I was covered by sheets, but we got a good laugh at how startled we were. The midwife came in to check me (I'm assuming around 1 or 1:30pm) and I was dilated to 8-9cm. I was SO relieved to hear that the epidural hadn't slowed the process and that I was getting close to delivery. Kali showed up, ready to take pictures and the nurses started to prepare. The epidural was slightly wearing off on my right side so I was having to work again through contractions.
Aside from actually meeting my girl, this is my favorite part of labor and delivery.
The mood in the air changes. The nurses start lay out and prepare all the tools and the adrenaline starts to pump. Instead of dreading the next contraction, I welcome it. Knowing that I'm minutes away from holding my baby. Instead of fearing the pushing, I buckle down and focus with all of my energy. Knowing there is only one way out. The midwife said she could feel her head right there and I felt a wave of excitement and giddiness. I felt pressure in my bottom with each contraction and she told me I could start to push when the next one came. 
This is SUCH an unflattering picture, but I pushed with all my might, listening to her every instruction and taking a break when the contraction was over. I was excited for the next one to come, hoping each time that it would bring me my baby. We did this through a few more contractions and her head started to crown. My midwife asked if I wanted to reach down and touch her head and I said no way. I know that some people find that really beautiful, but I did not want to feel what was about to come plunging through me (sorry). They laughed and I pushed. My midwife was so calm and relaxed through the whole thing, like she was making me a cup of coffee. She casually asked Truman if he wanted to come around a catch his daughter and since he isn't bothered by all the gore he gladly accepted the invitation. As the next contraction approached I knew this was it. I could feel her pushing her way through my body slowly. I had my eyes closed to focus and my midwife shouted "open your eyes! open your eyes!" as June was pulled out into the world at 2:42pm. I'm so thankful she did that so I could see this beautiful, purple, wet bundle lifted into the air and placed on my chest.
I was crying hysterically. So overjoyed. I think the first thing I muttered was "oh, I love that beautiful cry!" June curled up onto my chest and I held her tight for a long time. 
My words just don't do justice the joy I felt to be holding my healthy baby girl safely in my arms. Truman cut the cord and kissed me through my tears as we marveled again at this amazing entrance of new life. 
June sat quietly through all the poking and prodding and I anxiously awaited getting to hold her again. Kali was sure to make note of the song that was playing when she was born "Call Me the Breeze" by Beth Orton. My midwife informed me that I had only second degree tearing and I was SO thankful for that (with Penny I had fourth degree).
Truman and I spent some quiet time alone with her in the room to settle from all the excitement. Penny had been patiently waiting in the lobby with her Uncle Jamison, my dad, and Jeanette.
She wasn't quite sure what to think of her baby sister the first time she saw her. She just kept pointing in curiosity. After a few hours, everyone started to shuffle out and the nurse prepared to take us to our room. She wanted me to go to the bathroom first so I slowly walked with her and as I reached the toilet I felt my body get very faint and start to fade. I've never passed out before and I was trying really hard to stay awake. I thought that I had succeeded and when I came to I said "whoa I almost passed out!" She laughed and said "honey, you did pass out." I quickly realized that as I noticed the other four nurses that were now standing around me. I believe I called them "blue people" haha. I got back into bed so they could hook me back up to the IV. I was slightly bummed to end such a great delivery with this. Regardless, I still had my healthy baby girl to delight in. We eventually got into our room and they plastered a sign to my door saying "leaf" labeling me as a fall risk! The rest of the family got a good laugh out of that and Truman now calls me "little leaf".

I am so happy and blessed with Juniper's labor and delivery. It went so much smoother than I anticipated and the recovery has been much less painful. She is my sleepy little snuggler and I am loving all the cuddle time we've had. God has blessed us in so many ways and I am so excited to embrace this new life as a family of four.

Cheers, J.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Juniper Grace // Birth Story pt. 1

Pardon my language, but there is something about giving birth a second time that makes you feel like a total badass. It confirms that the first time wasn't just a fluke. You are, in fact, a strong woman with the ability to birth a human being...and survive!! Because before June, I truly doubted whether or not I was tough enough to do this again. I am so happy to report that bringing her into the world was a better experience than I could have hoped for and I am so, so grateful for it. I spare few details in a birth story because I think the process of giving life is wonderful and needs no censorship. However, if you're not into that sort of thing, this is your warning :) 
This is how our sweet, sleepy, screechy Juniper Grace entered the world and bettered our family...

On Thursday morning, I woke up with a heavy heart. There were no cramps, no contractions, no sign of a mucous plug. I was officially carrying June longer than I had carried Penny and I was SO certain all throughout my pregnancy that I would go early again. Fears that I would be overdue started to creep in. I was tired, uncomfortable, and everything was ready for her. Playing the waiting game was torture and that morning, specifically, I lost it. As Truman left for work I was crying in frustration (he was really sweet and offered to take the day off, but an emotional wife isn't a legitimate reason to do so). I spent the day at home with Penny decorating the house for Valentine's Day in an effort to get my mind off of things. I prayed frequently that the Lord would give me patience and peace about His timing...and He did. 

I went to bed that night with pretty frequent and painful braxton hicks. A tiny part of me thought "this might be something" but I had been over analyzing everything for weeks that I was tired of being disappointed. I fell asleep around midnight and woke up at 2am with a terribly strong back cramp. It felt like my lower back was on fire. I tried to sleep through it, but couldn't so I sat up to see if it would go away. It didn't. Penny's labor started with such mild cramps that I wasn't anticipating this intensity right away, but I knew this was something. I decided to text my mom to let her know that I was in the beginning stages of labor. My heart was racing in excitement/panic and I was still drowsy from waking up. I had to retype the text message three times and this was STILL what I could come up with...I've never been a morning person.
I woke Truman up to let him know that I was going to get up and see how quickly they were coming. He went back to sleep, knowing we potentially had a long day ahead of us and I contacted friends and family. For the next few hours, I paced our quiet house packing a bag, taking a shower (I even put on makeup thinking "maybe I'll actually look decent in labor pictures!" Ha.) All the while stopping every 7 minutes or so to endure a contraction. I was surprised that they were coming so quickly and so powerfully. 

My mom showed up around 4am and by that time I was already feeling very tired. I wanted so badly to try and sleep but the contractions were so intense that I wouldn't be able to. She massaged my legs and feet, trying to help me to relax. Penny woke up at 5am, wanting to help :)

Thinking we weren't to far away from heading to the hospital, I told my sister to head up so she could be around to watch Penny/take pictures of the delivery. The second she texted me that they were on their way my contractions started to slow in frequency and duration. I was a little discouraged, hoping this wasn't going to be false labor. I was also worried that she was going to drive all the way up here (missing class) for no reason. Thankfully they picked up an hour later. At about 6am, the house was quiet again. Kali, her husband, Truman, and I were all asleep (or trying to sleep) on the living room floor while Penny and my mom were sleeping in other rooms. I would wake Truman every 6 or 7 minutes and he would rub my lower back as I winced in pain and grabbed the carpet. 

As the sun rose, Kali made cinnamon rolls and everyone slowly started to wake up, feeling slightly more prepared for the long day ahead of us. I spent most of the following hours leaning over a chair while my mom rubbed peppermint oil on my back through contractions. Penny, of course, had to be part of the action so she would come over every now and then to help rub my back (or to ask for a back rub herself). Around 10am my contractions were coming 5-7 minutes apart and lasting 1 to 1:20 minutes. They were heavy waves of fiery pain in my lower back and all I could do was breathe (occasionally moan) and whisper He is strong over and over. My mom and Truman kept bugging me to call the midwife, but my instructions were to wait until contractions were 4 minutes apart. I didn't want to get to the hospital too early. However, after lots of persuasion, I decided to call and at least inform them of where I was in the process. They gave us the "go" and told us to come in so I could be checked. The thought of driving 20 minutes across town in the freezing cold made me miserable, but I knew it was the next step in meeting our babe. 

So off we went! I clenched the side of the car through each contraction and explained how worried I was that I wouldn't be dilated. I sat in the waiting room trying to look as composed as possible in front of all the other women. But honestly, how composed can one look in yoga pants and UGG boots? (Don't judge me.) When we were finally called to a room, the midwife listened for a heartbeat and checked for dilation. As always, it hurt like hell and she couldn't even feel the tip of my cervix. I got tears in my eyes remembering all too well the same news we got with Penny. She told me not to worry and that I should go to the mall down the street and walk around.... what? I loved this midwife, but I wanted to put my palm to her face. I was in SO much pain and I did not want to venture out into the cold and walk around. I could barely walk from the car to the office! She said if I wanted, she could check one more time and try to feel all the way back to my cervix. I truly contemplated saying no (SO glad I didn't). Through a few tears and the squeezing of Truman's hand,  she said very casually "oh! Okay, you're 5 centimeters." Sweet relief. Because I wanted an epidural, she suggested that we head up to labor and delivery to get things started. Everything felt confirmed. It was officially time to meet our baby girl. As the midwife walked out of the room she said you're having a baby today!" My heart was full. be continued!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Year

I have been wanting to update the blog for so long. So many thoughts and moments I've wanted to share, but every minute I have to myself I'm either sleeping or taking a warm bath. The holiday season was very low key for us. We casually walked into the new year, telling 2013 not to let the door hit it on the way out. Though we were blessed in many ways, it was by far the most challenging year for us as a family and we were ready to see it go. As we draw close to the end of January, I find myself quite pregnant and waiting anxiously to meet our daughter. I'm 39 weeks tomorrow and already carrying her longer than I carried Penny. Because Penny came unexpectedly, this "waiting period" is new to me and even though I'm not a fan of it, I'm trying to indulge in each day. Enjoy the quiet moments that I still have to myself. Soak up the time I have left of her inside me, every kick and hiccup. 
(38 weeks)

At almost 39 weeks I'm feeling pretty good. Besides the fact that I'm hardly sleeping, I don't feel too uncomfortable and haven't had any real contractions yet (just super uncomfortable braxton hicks). Though we don't have an elaborate nursery ready and waiting, we have a little corner in our room ready to be filled with her presence. Hospital bags are packed, playlist is composed, and the back of our car is jammed tight with two car seats. We're as ready and we'll ever be and I plan on spending the last however many days mentally preparing myself for labor.

Miss Penny still has no idea what's about to happen, but she sure does enjoy lifting up my shirt and patting my tummy (quite aggressively!). I have so enjoyed our last weeks together as a duo, but I'm excited for her to be a big sister and find her place in that role (even if it's rocky at first). As always, she is constantly changing and making my job as a mother a true joy. She understands a lot of what we're saying and is always trying to repeat new words. Her sweet little voice melts my heart and I love how excited and proud she gets when we praise her for saying something. Lately, her favorites are banana "manah", potty, bath "bah!", "nigh nigh", and bur "buhh!" 
We spend lots of time dancing to music and reading books. She loves to help me around the house by taking neatly folded piles of clothes and transporting them across the room :), helping me shut the dishwasher, and taking the groceries out of the grocery bag. I have to admit that the mess is hard for a perfectionist, like myself, to deal with at times but the look of content on her face when I praise her is far better than a tidy house. 

She is turning into a beautiful little girl and I am so thankful for the spunk and sweetness she brings to our family.

Being the obsessive list-maker that I am, I usually find myself with a long list of goals at the beginning of a new year. I'm always wishing that I ate healthier, worked out more (or at all!), spent more time in the kitchen, had more fun activities for Penny, kept a tighter budget, invested more in the friendships in my life, etc. I'll always be striving to improve in those areas, but instead I want to focus on one, big goal for the year 2014--living with intention. I'm still trying to figure out what this looks like on a day to day basis. Not waking up at 4am to read or run a million miles (though I applaud you folks who do), but practical, realistic things like putting my phone down (a VERY hard one for a lonely, stay at home mom), investing in my marriage and learning about my husband (and hell, even going on a date every now and then!), making prayer and thanksgiving a priority, memorizing scripture, and putting effort into my appearance (hello showers and real clothes) without needing value from it. It's far too easy to wish away my days as a stay at home mom, waiting for 5pm when Truman gets home or living for the weekend. I want to focus on making each day special (even if it's not glamorous) rather than always trying to live one step ahead.

I'm excited for this year. I'm excited to work through the messy of newborn stage, to not be pregnant and exhausted this summer, to fall deeper in love with my husband (cheesy, sorry), and to even re-discover my creative, artistic side while being a momma. Most importantly as we go forward as a family, I strive to be a woman who puts her family first, serves without needing praise, laughs amidst chaos, embraces mess, isn't attached to or concerned with stuff, and craves Jesus more than anything else.

Here's to hoping there's a precious little newborn in my arms SOON!
Cheers, J.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Penny Emerson : 13 Months // Third Trimester

Photos taken by Blue House Fotos

I have gained a new accessory and her name is Penny Emerson. 
It seemed as though overnight Penny reached the clingy, mama's girl, stranger anxiety phase. I have spent multiple nights at 3am with a scared baby draped across my pregnant body, nestled under my chin, trying so desperately to fall asleep on me (but honestly, there's not much real estate with a large bump in the way). I really enjoy this snuggly side of her. I love when she rests her head on my shoulder if I pick her up from her crib and sometimes it feels nice when she comes running to me for comfort. I like that she needs me and I like that I can comfort her. 

  It was reassuring to hear the doctor confirm that this stage is completely normal. Parenting has been great at shattering any judgements/ideas I had before Penny. When I saw clingy children I used to assume that they needed a little more tough love--that their parents weren't doing them any favors by babying them. But as we've reached this difficult stage I'm finding that it is physically impossible for me to lay in bed and listen to my sweet girl crying hysterically for her mama in the middle of the night. If there is one thing I've learned from parenting thus far it's that there is no one way. As a personal choice I choose to forgo tough love (when necessary) and cuddle the crap out of my baby until she feels safe again. 

This means learning to do lots of things one-handed with a baby on my hip. This also means a sore, pregnant back and extra braxton hicks at times :)
 Penny's personality has really been exposed within the last month. It's no shocker that she's very emotional and vocal. She gets incredibly frustrated when she can't communicate something and I try to remember that when she's convulsing on the floor because I wouldn't let her put the drumstick in her mouth. She LOVES attention (is there a child that doesn't?) and her eyes light up when I praise her for doing something. She is such a ham and loves to make us laugh--she knows that we get a kick out of the snuffy face so she does it often. She thinks every photo is "dada" and she can communicate by shaking her head and saying "no." She spends the majority of her day pointing to everything and saying "wassat?!" (what's that?). She head bangs to music like she's been a hipster for years and she loves when I pick her up to dance around the living room. She thrives when she is with others. She loves to play with other kids (even if we haven't quite understood the sharing thing yet) and I am so excited for her to have a sister soon. It's going to be a tough transition, especially if she's still glued to my leg, but I know we are giving her a great gift--a sibling and a friend.

The older she gets the more I am appreciating that I get to be the one to watch her learn each day. I constantly feel unqualified to be the one teaching her about everything, but I'm still glad it's me. It's not glamorous, but I truly love it. 

On another note, I have officially reached the last leg of this pregnancy! Though it has been more challenging with a little one running around, it really has flown by. 
 Aside from the discomfort that I've had from the beginning, this pregnancy has been extra special because my placenta isn't in the front. I can feel baby girl moving so much to the point that it scares me sometimes! Even when I'm exhausted and uncomfortable at night it's impossible to be discouraged when there is life moving underneath my hand. I'll never stop being amazed and this bouncy belly will never get old.
 My midwife said I'm measuring larger than 29 weeks but she assured me it was due to extra fluid and that I would not be pushing out a 10 pound that's always nice to hear :) As if life doesn't already get busy with the holiday season, I'm feeling a little anxiety and pressure as I prepare for baby. With all the amazing blogs and online inspiration these days it's hard not to feel like I'm behind if I don't have an immaculate nursery ready and waiting for my baby. The truth is, our baby girl will reside in the corner of our room for quite a while. And along with every other aspect of our life, I'm challenged with an attitude of content. So my goal for the next 2ish months (!!) is to try and free myself of the pressure of preparation. To take it slow, relax when necessary, enjoy my time with Penny-girl, *enjoy* the process of getting ready for a baby, and slowly prepare myself for the crazy-incredible thing that is labor. Oh, and pick a stinkin' name for our girl! 

I want to be present and grateful for every turtle-speed rotation in bed, for every ache in my hip, for every bout of hiccups in my tummy at 2am, and for every gentle and not-so-gentle nudge in my pelvis that says "hey mom, I'm still here and you're doing one of the most amazing things a woman is called to do--give life."

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Chase

(Try to ignore the fact that my blog title sounds like a Miley Cyrus song--pre-twerking, of course.)

Is it me, or are we trying to skip Thanksgiving this year? 
I was overhearing a conversation at the grocery store yesterday where a girl was telling her friend that it just seems too early to be thinking Christmas already and I was so happy to hear that I'm not alone! The day after Halloween I felt myself feeling overwhelmed with Christmas. Wish lists, decorating ideas, traditions for our family, and above all the looming question of "how are we going to afford this!?" I found myself getting bitter about our financial situation (being a stay at home mom means giving up certain financial comforts) and being bitter about our house (even the fact that we don't have a fireplace!) and worrying that I won't have enough time/energy to decorate and fill our walls with impressive things....

And then I realized, it's slightly ironic that Thanksgiving comes right before Christmas. Maybe I'm just WAY behind on this epiphany, but I was so convicted that I was spending more time getting stressed about a holiday that is almost two months away (at the time) that it was causing me to be ungrateful and discontent. Those habits creep so easily into my day-to-day and during the month of November (and, uh, the rest of my life) I just want to be still. To indulge in the joy of the gifts I have been given. To not feel behind in planning for the next big thing. 

Don't get me wrong, I seriously love the holiday season and I don't think there is any shame if someone wants to start celebrating early, but I noticed that all the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas way in advance was causing a lack of gratitude. And I don't want that for myself or my family. When I was little, I could have cared less about Thanksgiving because it didn't involved getting presents. I'd like the month of November--the gratitude month--to be just as important in our house as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our savior. Easier said than done, right? But I'm going to try to slow down. To rest in this time of family and food and for goodness sakes to quit lusting over the fancy, cozy homes of Pottery Barn and Pinterest. ONLY by the grace of God will I be free of expectations and busyness...and silly, worldly idols that are never easy to admit.

I have learned first hand that gratitude is not natural. It has to be cultivated. And as the mother of my home I take the responsibility very seriously to teach my children the importance of a thankful heart.

Cheers, J.

P.S. I'm not judging you if you've already whipped out the Christmas music. Do your thang.
Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fall Weekend

It was a fun weekend full of little memories I don't want to forget. 

^^This little profile. We have this routine where she wakes up from her afternoon nap and watches me put my makeup on/do my hair from her crib. Yes, I'm admitting to frequently waiting until after lunch to even get ready. Mom life. She likes to hold my comb and rub it against her head like she's brushing her hair. I'm not going to be the one to tell her nothing's there...^^

^^The tree in our front yard is gorgeous right now. It's half yellow/half green and she likes to play in the leaves.^^

^^We found a park close to Truman's work one day and it had the BEST pile of leaves. She was so mad at me when I made her leave, but we had a blast throwing them back and forth.^^

^^Those two top teeth. That smile. Her giggle. I just can't.^^

^^We had a little family date Saturday at The Mill. She gets to wear mama's hat until I can find one that I actually like for her.^^

^^She's an escape artist, for sure. Trums taught her how to run. Terrible idea.^^

^^And I chopped my hair! I wasn't not ready to face another dry, Nebraska winter with a head full of hair and a baby. I feel lighter and I get to spend 20 less minutes in the shower and drying my hair...think of all the things I can do!^^


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