Showing posts with label Blessings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blessings. Show all posts

Why I'm Glad My Blog Didn't Grow


Well, another one bites the dust.

Yesterday I was browsing through my Bloglovin' feed, and I saw that another one of the bloggers that I follow has decided to call it quits.  I won't link to her post here, because it was a fairly new-to-me blog, and her site will be set to private in the next few days anyway.  Every time I see a blogger decide to step back from blogging, it makes me a little introspective.  It's a good thing to periodically reflect on my blog thus far and evaluate my priorities, I just wish the trigger wasn't always a negative one.

(It's still July, so that means I can still use sparkler pictures in this post, right?)

Regardless, I was thinking over this blogger's reasons for quitting, and thinking over my own reasons for continuing to blog over the years.  My reasons for blogging now are really the same as when I started it in the first place.  I like to write.  I like to create something pretty, either with words or photographs, and I like to share when I do.  I like to have this creative outlet for myself, this place to think things through, or stretch myself, or reflect some bit of my life that I don't want to forget.  I like to make friends with people who may be very different from me, but also kind of the same.

The blog has gone through stages, morphed a bit to fit whatever phase I was going through in my life, but it always comes back to these reasons.  I'm just very thankful that it remains a safe place for me to do those things, that it remains functional for my purposes.  I don't think every blogger can say that.

That Time I Tried To Grow My Blog

There was a period of time when I was actively trying to grow this blog and earn a little money from it - partly because the extra income was helpful at that time, partly because everyone was doing it.  And didn't I need to monetize and professionalize this blog to be taken seriously as a blogger?  When I realized that trying to make this into a job was making the whole thing a chore for me, I reevaluated then too and came back to my original purposes.

You know, the funny thing is, during that period of time, I wasn't quite sure what I was doing wrong.  Why wasn't my blog growing the way so many others were?  Why did it feel like I had to fight so hard for each new follower?  It honestly was a discouraging thing to me.

But now that I am successfully past that stage and fully over the desire to grow for growth's sake, I'm actually really glad that my blog didn't grow.  Ultimately it was God's grace to me to keep this space small.

Graces Of Staying Small

Grace #1: I've had limited nastiness to deal with.

I don't worry about a lot of the things bigger blogs have to deal with as a matter of course.  I haven't had the stress of nasty comments because I have only encountered a handful of trolls in my eleven (!) years of blogging.

My husband sometimes asks me not to write about a controversial topic that is weighing on me, because he knows that I am not built to handle alot of conflict.  While I have strong opinions that I am willing to share, and I never write anything that I am not willing to stick by, often handling the discussions, even when they are good discussions, is emotionally taxing on me.  I am blessed that I haven't had to deal with much meanness, and that even when we disagree, almost every discussion I've had with people on this blog has remained respectful.

I can't claim anything I did as a strategy for a positive blog environment, I fully credit it to the Lord keeping my blog mostly in a bubble, keeping it small, and only bringing the people who needed to read it.

 Grace #2: I am a terrible receiver of glory.

A couple of months ago I read something in a book that immediately made me realize anew that it was the grace of God that my blog didn't grow.  This is what I read:

"Being glorious is for God. Giving glory is a human task....We bring glory, we give glory, we reflect glory. But we are terrible receivers of it. We cannot hold glory because it was never meant for us. We are given glory to give it to our Maker. This is our task. This is our purpose. If a pipe has no outlet for the water, it is pointless and it will burst. When a person receives glory and has no place to give it, they will burst. When they have only a little glory that they don’t know what to do with, they go sadly stagnant...I only have a little, and I am doing nothing with it. Or, I have much, but it has destroyed me. These are not good options."  -Rachel Jankovic, You Who?

This passage resonated with me so much, because I know in my heart that if I received too much glory, I wouldn't give it all over to God.  I'd hoard some of it for myself, and in the end, I think it would ruin me, and it would ruin this blog.  I know myself well enough to say this one thing: I don't need any help being prideful, and I don't need something else to be prideful about.  The Lord knows that too, and I think He saved me from some rather serious humbling by keeping me from the opportunity to be puffed up by my blog in the first place.

Grace #3: I am still writing to friends.

I remember in my first year of blogging, I told my mom that I hoped I never got more than a certain number of followers, because then it would be hard for me to respond and keep up with everyone else's blogs.  And while more people read this blog now than my original (very small) desired number, somehow the spirit of that thought has held steady.  I haven't had a conversation with every person who reads this blog regularly, because some people never comment.  But I personally know (in an online, virtual sense) a good percentage of the people who are reading this right now, and I love that I can say that.

I am thankful for everyone who reads my rather unpolished, small-blogger thoughts, thankful for those who have stuck around through the years.  And if you're reading this, I am thankful for you.  I'm glad this blog is still small and cozy and perfect for me.  It is a beautiful thing to still feel as if I am writing to friends.

As long as I can say that, and as long as I still need to get my thoughts out into written words (which will probably be forever, let's be honest), I don't plan on going anywhere.

So there's another periodic blog evaluation in the books!

I guess you're all still stuck with me. *wink*

Any thoughts about writing, or blog size, or unexpected graces?  I'd love to hear what you think!

How I Stop Comparing On Social Media

I'm sitting down with a bowl of salad and scrolling through my Facebook feed.  I have carefully curated my feed to make sure that I will only see updates that I want to see - updates on what my good friends are doing, pictures of their cute kids, interesting articles.  I have blocked all complain-y posts and I'm not friends with anyone who annoys me, so it's about as harmless as a Facebook feed can get.

But as I scroll, there is a small knot in my stomach that twists a little.  

Oh, she got to go to Hawaii?  How fun is that?  Why can't we afford Hawaii?  

Oh my goodness, look at her adorable baby.  Perfectly styled, no less.  I need to buy new outfits and take new pictures of the kids.  

Oh, the newlyweds are on another date night.  I think they've had about five date nights since Derek and I went out last.  Was that three or four months ago?

Suddenly I am feeling a little jealous and much less content with my life.  

And you know what, I can't even blame my Facebook feed - it's carefully curated, remember?  I want to see this stuff.  No, the problem isn't with social media or anything else.  It's with me.

I have a comparison problem.

I know I am not the only one who struggles with comparison - this is a hot topic.  But no matter how many articles I read on the subject, no matter how much I am reminded that I have it pretty darn good too, it is still hard not to let that knot twist me into a discontented mess.

(Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review.)

I was excited when I saw a book available for review called "I'm Happy For You . . . Sort Of . . . Not Really" by Kay Willis Wyma.  Don't you love that title?  I'm not going to lie, I have secretly had those feelings in that exact order.  Many times.

This book was so helpful to me in this struggle with comparison.  As I was reading through it I was more aware of comparison than I normally am, and I realized just how much it affects my day-to-day happiness.  When I am so focused one what everyone else is doing, it's harder to be happy for the things I have, and this book brought sharply into focus for me.

The chapters addressed different areas of comparison and reasons why this is such a struggle in our modern culture.  One thing that stood out to me in this book is that comparing to others is the way we can be sucked into the sin of coveting.  Whenever we desire something that someone else has (often through comparing what we have to what they have and coming up wanting), we are coveting.  Comparison doesn't just "steal our joy", it is also a gateway into sin.

I love the solution this book offers to the comparison problem - to say "I'm happy for you" and mean it.  Without a hint of sarcasm.  It's not easy to do, but the book made me realize that being happy for someone isn't just something I feel, it is something I actively choose to do.  

It's hard to pick a favorite chapter because the whole book was so good, but I really appreciated the chapter on the need to belong.  This chapter was a good wake-up call to me that people want to feel known.  It should have been obvious to me, because I know that I want others to notice and encourage me - so of course other people want the same.  I felt challenged to look at those around me with fresh eyes, notice what makes them unique, and maybe even tell them.  I want to be the person who can make someone else feel noticed and special.

Since I started reading this book I have been trying to truly be happy for those around me.  So when I scroll through my Facebook feed, my goal is to turn off the train of thought that will lead me to be jealous of my friends, and instead smile to myself at their blessings. 

And the one thing that has helped me most in overcoming the comparison game? 

I like the status update and comment with something encouraging.  

It is really hard not to be happy for someone when you focus on crafting a non-sarcastic, truly happy comment.  It's the perfect solution because it encourages them, and I feel my own heart changing in the process.  It's a chance to slow down and remember that I do really care about this person, and I am really happy for them, regardless of my own situation.  It takes my eyes off me, and puts it onto others - and maybe even directs my mind to God as I shoot up a "thanks for blessing my friend" prayer.

So the next time you find yourself feeling a little jealous as you scroll through your social media feed?  Type out a nice comment and mean it.  I know it's made Facebook a lot more fun for me!

Do you struggle with comparison and jealousy on social media?  What do you do to overcome it?

Note:  I received a copy of "I'm Happy For You" for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

(Also, yes, I didn't paint my toes for this picture.  (1) It's the dead of winter, and (2) no time.)

A Year And Two Days


A year and two days ago, I was worried.  Your labor and birthday was the most highly anticipated of all the kids, Sweet Clyde, mainly because I was so worried your daddy wouldn't be there.  I so badly wanted us to both meet you at the same time.

You had given me a false alarm several days before, and I was so hoping that you would come over the weekend.

Thursday night I spent mostly leaning over the toilet, emptying my stomach, and I felt awful Friday morning.  I managed to keep down some water and a granola bar.  Even though I was anxiously watching for signs of labor, amidst all the nausea I almost missed the steadily increasing cramps that started at 11:00 AM.

But the instant I realized I was having contractions I forgot all about the queasiness in my stomach.  Instead there were butterflies.  I was going to meet you today!

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I met your daddy at the hospital, and we walked around, and my contractions started slowing down.  My heart dropped, and I thought maybe this wasn't the day after all.  But you were just a trickster, Sweet Boy.  Soon I knew without a doubt that this was it.

Fast-forward a few hours later, and the happy-go-lucky attitude that I had maintained throughout labor had faded into a serious anticipation. They rolled in the warmer, and I just started to cry.  Even in the midst of my pain, I knew what that warmer meant.  You were coming.  I was about to meet my son.

Your daddy thought the tears meant I was scared or hurting, but that wasn't it at all.  I was crying because I was excited!  I just couldn't wait to see your sweet face.

And before I knew it, the rush of late labor slowed down, and I peeked open my eyes, and there you were.  The doctor was holding you up underneath your arms, and your face was scrunched up in an incredibly adorable scream.

It was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen.  6:33 PM.  You were here.

And you were mine.


This last year has been such a huge blessing, Clyde-Boy.  I have loved every minute of it.  I love your little snuggles.  I love your adorable smile that you are so quick to share.  I love your throaty giggle, and I can't help laughing myself every time I hear it.  I even love the times when you won't stop crying because you just want me to hold you. What a blessing you are to your daddy, your siblings, and me.

You are my sweetheart, and when I think back to the day that I was so surprised to find out that I was pregnant, I am so thankful that the Lord gave you to us.  He had a better plan than I even knew then, and I can't imagine life without you, Precious Boy.  You are a gift.


I am so deeply thankful that you are mine.


The other day we went to pick up our van from the shop.  This year, December seems to be the month for things to break. Both of our cars have broken down, Derek's computer crashed, my iPad died a sudden death, and Harvey had a horrible ear infection that resulted in his needing surgery.  Then everyone got sick right before Christmas, but that is another story for another day.

Anyway, Derek jumped out of the car to get the keys to our van and walked around the corner, but in the next instant he was back, his phone pressed to his ear.  He waved at me from the front of our car, pointed to his phone, and mouthed something to me.

And just like that, Derek got another job!  We are starting this New Year with Derek no longer unemployed!  I didn't want to say anything until the official paperwork went through, and Derek got the job offer in print a few days before Christmas!

We feel so blessed right now.  The Lord has taken care of us and helped us make ends meet during the last few weeks, and now Derek will start his new job exactly two weeks after the last of his unused vacation pay comes in!  His new job will be as an accountant with the state, and it sounds like it is going to be a great fit.

I can't even explain how loved we have felt over the last few weeks.  From my mom buying us grocery, to my sister helping us with some expenses, to a mysterious person paying the fees for my spring semester of MOPS, I have never felt so . . . seen.  Like people care about our family enough to see where we are and meet the needs we had without our even needing to ask.  I totally broke down and cried the other day, just because it is a good feeling - to be seen.

I want to thank you all for your encouraging words and prayers since I posted about our situation on the blog.  Sometimes I wonder if I should share some things, but I am so glad I did, because everyone's support has meant the world to me.

I just want say that through this short (Praise the Lord!) time, you all have inspired me to make sure that I am looking around me for those who might need encouragement.  Sometimes people try to hold it together when they are really incredibly worried and stressed, so you might not even realize someone needs kind words or a little help until you offer it.  Even if someone doesn't let on, those little gestures of love you give to someone have the power to turn a bad day into a knowledge that they are cared for - that someone sees them.  That is being the hands and feet of Jesus to those around you - a reminder of His love to those who know Him, and a glimpse of His grace to those who haven't met Him yet.  And that is a beautiful thing.

5 Thing I Want My Kids To Be Thankful For

With Thanksgiving coming up (tomorrow!), I've been thinking about how I want to teach my kids to be thankful to God for their blessings.  There are so many creative ways to do that, and maybe I'll compile a list of ideas at a future time, but today I just wanted to write about some things that I want my kids to be thankful for.  I think when we consistently demonstrate gratitude and talk to kids about specific blessings, they are more likely to be thankful for those things as they grow.

I want them to be thankful for Jesus, and what He did on the cross for us.  I think it is so fitting that a holiday all about being thankful to God falls right before the season where we celebrate the birth of His Son.  It is so important to me that I teach my kids about Jesus's sacrifice in coming to earth and dying for our sins (and rising again!), and I think Thanksgiving provides a great opportunity to refocus on that right before the Christmas craziness!

I want my kids to be thankful for living in America.  I still believe that America is the greatest nation on earth, with more opportunities and freedoms than any other place in the world.  It is an extraordinary blessing to be born and raised in such a country, that recognizes our God-given rights and has a rich heritage and history of being founded on biblical principles.  They also have the opportunity to control their own government, and not very many people can say that.  Only a small percentage of people in the world have what we have in this country, and I want my kids to know and appreciate that.

I want them to be thankful for their family, including their extended family.  For some it may be hard to be grateful for family, because although family members can be a source of some of the greatest blessings, they can also be involved in some of the deepest pains.  But God placed us in families for a reason, and it is a blessing to have living family and good family relationships.  Families are messy, but they are also priceless, and I want my kids to know how blessed they are to have a family that loves them.

I want my kids to be thankful for material blessings.  This is probably one of the most common categories of things that people might be thankful for on Thanksgiving, but it's important.  I heard a statistic that if you make more than $34,000 a year, you are in the top 1% of wage earners in the world. That is for individuals, not families, but it still puts things into perspective.  I want my kids to know what a blessing it is just to be warm and filled, because so many don't have even that.  Gratitude also promotes generosity, so I hope knowing how blessed they are in material ways will prompt them to also give to others.

I want them to be thankful for God's Word.  I wrote about this earlier this week, but the Bible is such a gift.  God's written word is what allows us to know about Him and to know Him personally.  I can't imagine not having it, and I want my kids to grow to love and be thankful for God's Word.

The first step in helping kids become grateful for the things that matter is to show that you are grateful for them.   It is so important to give thanksgiving to God for the things He has given us throughout the year, not just on Thanksgiving.  When we give thanks to God for our blessings in front of our kids, that genuine gratitude will rub off on them as well.


What are some things you are thankful for, and what do you want to pass on to your kids?

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

My June Cleaver Moment

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It was late afternoon, and I had the windows rolled down.  I could hear the birds chirping outside the window, and the leaves were rustling with the breeze in that ever-so-slightly dry way that signals that summer is winding down.

I had just finished whipping up a batch of cream cheese frosting for the carrot cake I had made.  I had chili simmering on the stove.  Clyde was positioned on my hip, and I managed to get the beaters off the mixer with one hand.  I took a lick of the frosting to taste it, and then I called Wyatt and Gwen over and gave them a taste.

They bounced up and down while I let them lick the beaters dry, and then we heard Derek's truck pull up the driveway outside the window.

"Daddy's home!"

Little feet running toward the door.

Happy squeals and shouts of "Hi Dad!", as I followed the kids to greet Derek.

And I had one of those moments.  One of those "I can't believe this is my life" moments.  My mind flashed back to several years earlier, and a guest post I had written for my blog friend Anna where I talked about a June Cleaver moment like this.  Greeting my husband with the sound of little feet and a baby on my hip.

And suddenly it didn't matter that my June Cleaver moment included me in sweatpants.

It didn't matter that Clyde had been crying all day and that was the reason I was holding him while making frosting.

It didn't matter that the rolled-down windows had led to a shortened nap time when a thunderstorm woke up two of the kids.

It didn't matter that the chili and cake had been my sole accomplishments that day.

Because in that moment, I remembered.  I remembered how much I wanted a moment just like this in those early days.

I think as moms it can be easy to get so caught up in the daily tasks that we forget to look around and see what we have.  We can focus so much on all the things that are going wrong that we forget to notice the things that are right.  In moments of frustration we shoot up prayers that the Lord would just let our day go smoother, and we forget to shoot up prayers of thanks for frosting faces, babies that just want to be with mama all day, and husbands that work to make it all possible.

The light turned on in that moment, and I looked around and saw that I had the things I most wished for all those years ago.  Any remnants of frustration melted away, and instead of feeling like crying because I hadn't even had time to get dressed properly before Derek got home, I felt like crying because I remembered.

I remembered that I didn't always wish for perfect days.  I always wished for these sweet little people that fill my crazy days now.

I stopped right then and thanked God, because I remembered that I have what I always wanted, and it's okay if it's not picture perfect.  It's a beautifully blessed life that He's given me, and somehow the imperfections make me like it even better.

All About Three

I was told before we had Clyde that the transition from two to three kids is the hardest.  I tended to just brush that off.  People told me going from one to two was hard, but that transition went pretty easily for me, so I wasn't going to worry too much.

Well, now, I have to say that they are right.  But they are also wrong.

On the one hand, I feel like three has been much easier.  I remember all of the new baby stuff from my other two, and the recovery and settling in after baby has gone much more smoothly.  I feel like we have fallen into a nice rhythm with Clyde's feedings and sleep schedule, and it doesn't seem as hard to get up with him in the middle of the night as it did with the other two.

Derek was just saying the other day that he feels like going from two to three hasn't been hard at all, that it seems pretty much the same with the two of us handling all the kids.  And I have to agree - when it's Derek and me, I feel like we've got everything really under control, and it hasn't been a hard adjustment.

On the other hand, Derek isn't always here, and I've found that the transition has been hardest when I've had to take care of all three by myself.  Somehow I didn't feel overwhelmed by two kids (maybe because I have two hands?), but three leaves me feeling outnumbered.  It's just tricky to balance the needs of all three when they all three need something from me at the same time.  Wyatt is the easiest right now, because he is older and he is able to do more things by himself, and I feel bad because he doesn't get as much attention/help as the other two who can't do as much.

When Clyde was about a week old, I took all three kids to MOPS and the grocery store.  By myself.  It was probably a little nuts to try that so early, and honestly I'm not sure we would have even made it out the door if Derek wasn't there to help get us going.  But it went okay.  We handled MOPS alright, and then I somehow managed to get all three kids in and out of the store, picking up a pretty good load of groceries in the process.

By the time I got home I was exhausted, and I decided we'd wait a while before trying that again.  But all three kids went down for a nap, and I joined them, and our afternoon ended up being quite nice.  I think that's how it's been mostly - chaos, chaos, chaos, followed by sweet moments of harmony.

Overall, it's only been two and a half weeks.  I'm still figuring it out.  Give me another month and I'll probably have more constructive things to say.

But I do have to say one thing now - that quote I shared a while ago still holds true.  My hands are full . . . but my heart is even more full.

When Clyde passes out on my shoulder, his little nose tickling my neck - my heart is full.
When Gwendolyn picks out a book, crawls on my lap, and looks so intently as I describe each picture to her - my heart is full.

When Wyatt brings me the play doh or his paints, and we set him up at the table while he asks me to say "Humpty Dumpty" with him one more time - my heart is full.

I look over, and I see the sun streaming in the windows, shining on my two little toddlers lining up their toys so seriously, while my newborn swings and looks at the sky.  It's moments like those when it hits me that all the work and tears and chaos are nothing in comparison to these incredible little blessings.

I don't deserve them.  I thank God for the chance to be a mama to all three of them.  There is nowhere else I'd rather be, and nothing else I'd rather do.

Clyde's Birth Story - Part Two

If you missed Part One of Clyde's birth story, you can read it here!

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I had a couple contractions while we were checking in at the emergency room entrance.  I felt a little funny doing my "he he" breathing in front of all the other patients in the waiting room, but everyone was asking a bunch of questions and they were all excited for us!

A nurse came down with a wheel chair and took us up to our labor and delivery room around 4:00.  We were introduced to our nurse, Helen, and I got changed into my hospital gown (yuck, but I'd rather make a mess of the hospital's clothes than my own).  

Helen pulled out the monitors; I asked if I really had to wear them, and she said they would want to monitor me a little bit up front (which I already knew).  I asked for the wireless monitors so I could move around, and she said they'd get them for me so I didn't have to sit in bed.  It was really important for me not to be stuck in bed, because that was the worst part of my labor with Wyatt, and when I was in labor with Gwen I loved being able to move around.

I was still having painful contractions every 4-6 minutes, and Helen asked what I was wanting for pain management - I told her I didn't want an epidural or anything, I was just going to power through!  She was really supportive.  She warned me that I might doubt my decision around transition, but that it was normal to feel that way.  I was sure I'd be fine though.

Helen noticed I liked to be leaning forward during my contractions, so she set up a table and pillow for me to lean on while they got me set up with monitors and an IV (I wasn't hooked up to an IV, but they put a line in, just in case I lost too much blood afterward or had other complications).  

Derek was really there for me through the contractions, and he held my hand and rubbed my back.  It was so comforting to me, and I was just so thankful that the Lord had worked everything out so he could be there!  It makes the pain so much more manageable when you feel so thankful to just be in labor.

They had me on the monitors for a little while, and then they took them off to give me a break.  One thing I was really impressed with was how attentive the nurses were - once they knew I wasn't going to get an epidural they seemed to bend over backward to think of things to make me comfortable.  Helen brought in a birthing ball for me to sit on between contractions, and she showed Derek this hip-squeezing technique that helped me a lot.  

Derek and I decided to watch a movie, and we picked 17 Again.  I bounced on my ball and we made fun of Zac Effron's haircut and different plot elements (I really do like that movie, but poking fun at it was a good distraction during labor).  When I had a contraction I'd drop down off the birth ball onto my hands and knees and breathe through the contraction while Derek pressed on my hips.  

Helen brought me a towel so I wouldn't have to kneel on the hard floor, and she kept saying how impressive it was that I could get down on my hands and knees so fast for the contractions.  At one point another nurse came in right before I had a contraction, and when I dropped down she though I had hurt myself, but Helen told her that I was okay, that's just what I did when I had a contraction.  The labor was concentrated in my back, so hands and knees felt best.  

I really liked the birth ball, and it felt good to bounce on it between contractions.  Helen asked if I wanted to try some aromatherapy, and she brought in a washcloth with some oils on it.  It smelled really good.  She also offered to fill up the jet tub for me if I wanted to try sitting in the water.  I was thinking about it, but I was worried about getting back out if things progressed quickly (the hospital wouldn't let me give birth in the tub).

Dr. B had requested that she be called when I was checked in, because she wanted to be able to deliver my baby if possible, so she was calling in periodically to hear how I was doing.  Around 5:00 Helen said they'd like to check me, because Dr. B had an event at her kid's school, and she was wondering how close I was.  

One of my requests was to have as few cervical checks as possible - my cervix is positioned so that checks are really painful for me.  But I wanted Dr. B to be there if possible too, so I said that was fine.  I sat on the bed, and Helen checked me - it wasn't as painful as I was afraid it would be.  After a minute she said "Oh wow, you're at 6 or 7 centimeters!"  I think she was surprised I was that far, because the contractions were still really manageable.

I went back to my ball, and after that I started having some blood during contractions.  I could also tell they were getting a little stronger, and I tried to focus on relaxing during contractions so my body could do it's thing.  I had verses written on cards, but I didn't want to dig them out of my bag, so I just thought about the two I could remember then:

"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:13


"Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

During contractions I started thinking on those verses, and it was comforting to focus on the Lord when I was in so much pain.

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Helen was back in the room shortly to put the monitors back on me for a little bit, but I felt like they kept slipping when I got down on the floor for contractions.  I was watching the monitors, but I couldn't tell if they were getting a good read on the baby during contractions.  Helen didn't seem to concerned though, so I assumed it was fine.  They took them back off after a little while.

Derek was still doing the hip squeezing during contractions, but I asked him to rub my back as the contraction was ending too, because the pain was starting to linger a little longer and it felt like it needed to be rubbed out.  I felt so bad for Derek because he came straight from work, so he was in his nice dress clothes during all this - not the most comfortable clothes when you are getting down on the floor with your laboring wife every few minutes!  He was so great during labor though, and did everything he could to help me.

My doctor came in about 5:30, and I could tell she was really torn.  She had an event with her kids from 6:00 to 7:30, and she asked me if I would be okay if she went to the event with her kids.  I told her that was fine, that she should go!  She said "Well, maybe he'll wait until after 7:30 and I can still make it in time for the delivery!"  But I knew at that point that it probably wouldn't happen - I could tell I was getting close.  I asked her if she would come back later though, and she said she would.

I had a couple contractions while my doctor was in the room, and she told me she was so impressed with how I was handling them.  "You could teach laboring classes!" she said.  I thought that was sweet, because you need encouragement like that when you are in labor!  It made me feel like I still had it under control.

Sometime between 5:45 and 6:00 the contractions started stepping up a bit again, and I started doing the "he he he who" breathing instead.  They were still only 4-ish minutes apart, but they became way more intense.  

I kept thinking "He He He Who gives me strength," and "He He He (cares for) who-you" (I know the second one is a stretch, but it worked for me).  I also decided to start standing and leaning on the hospital bed for contractions, instead of getting on the floor, because I thought gravity could help the baby move down.

Derek could tell I was in more pain, and I was starting to get uncomfortable between contractions too.  I was starting to whimper a little bit during contractions in between my breathing, because things just felt different.  Derek asked me if he should call the nurse, but I wasn't sure.  So he made the executive decision to go ahead and call her (I'm so glad he was there, because I just don't think straight at this point of labor).

After Derek called her, Helen came right in and watched me through a couple contractions (still 4 minutes apart), and then they wheeled the warmer in.  Seeing that warmer, where I knew my baby would be soon, suddenly made everything so real, and I started to cry.  I wasn't upset or scared, I was crying because I knew he would be here soon and I was excited!  

Derek asked if I was okay, and I just nodded and thought that maybe I was in transition, even though I didn't shake the way I had with Wyatt and Gwen (I felt very slightly quivery, but that was it).  I could tell something was happening.

Helen called the on-call doctor to come in after that, and Dr. A (as we'll call her), stood off to the side and watched for a few minutes too.  At this point the movie had ended, and I was feeling serious between contractions.  I had a strong contraction, and Dr. A asked if I was starting to feel pressure, and I nodded.  It was weird though, because the pressure felt like it was in the wrong spot - it was like his head was pressing against my tailbone.  

Derek asked Dr. A if I should get ready to push, and she said they'd want to check first to make sure I was really fully dilated, because sometimes if the water doesn't break first you might have a little cervix left and pushing against it can cause problems.

The nurses started talking about how I could get up on the bed and hang on the back of it during contractions, but I just remember staring at them from my birthing ball and saying I didn't want to move.  I obviously couldn't give birth sitting there though, so they were trying to encourage me to move between contractions.  

Then I had another one and I stood up to lean against the bed.  I ended up screaming a little bit during that one while Derek was still helping me by pushing on my hips.  As it was ending I said "I can't!"  I didn't even think about the words as they came out of my mouth, I just said them - I think if I was a bit more coherent I would have meant that I can't get up on the bed, but I think my nurse thought I was doubting my decision not to get the epidural.  I wasn't though, the words just came out.

Then all of a sudden my water broke, and it just gushed everywhere (including all over Derek's new work pants - whoops).  It was crazy to me because it felt like a lot of water, and it was startling.  The pressure was still there, and everything felt like a blur.  Dr. A checked me while I was standing there and said we were good to go, and the nurses started helping me up onto the bed.  

They started talking about how there was meconium (baby's first bowel movement) and blood in the water, and I heard the words "placental abruption".  I remember asking a few times if I could push (even though Dr. A had already basically said I could), and I felt like no one heard my question (or I just didn't hear the answer, because Derek told me later that they had said I could).

They got me sitting on the bed.  I remember them setting the bed back, and I told them I didn't like sitting so far back.  (This was the only part of the birth that I wasn't completely satisfied with.  I felt like leaning back so far made it harder to push - I would rather have sat up more, but everything was happening so fast, it wasn't that important to me to insist at that point.)

With the next contraction I went ahead and pushed, screaming in the process.  It was such a weird sensation, because I felt like his head was still pushing on my tailbone.  I pushed a couple more times through that contraction, and I felt his head move down, with the infamous "ring of fire".  Then the contraction was over and I had to wait until the next one.  I remember saying "It hurts", and Dr. A was really sympathetic, and said that she knew this part hurt.  She told me he had a head of dark hair, and that made me smile.

The nurses told me to try to make more of a deep groaning sound while I was pushing.  They said they didn't mind the screaming at all, but making a groaning noise would help focus my energy in my abdomen instead of in my lungs.  It made sense to me, so with the next contraction I really tried, but I felt like I wasn't doing a very good job of it.

Derek kept rubbing my back through the pushing, and told me I was doing a great job, and that he was proud of me, which was really comforting to me.

With the next contraction I pushed and I got his head out.  I kind of expected his body to slip out easily after that, but it didn't.  I pushed and kept feeling him move down, but I couldn't get him out, and the contraction ended.  Derek says that I said "I can't" again (which I have no recollection of), and the nurses thought I was going to quit pushing - but I know that I was thinking "I can't get him out".  It just felt like I kept pushing and couldn't move him down.

I had one more contraction and gave a couple more big pushes - I kept feeling like I had pushed him out, but then I would realize I hadn't. 

Finally I pushed, and everyone gave a happy shout, and Derek told me to open my eyes - and I looked and there he was.  Dr. A was holding him up right in front of me - his face was scrunched up into a good cry, his little arms and legs flailing around.  I reached out and grabbed him, and just held him.  I remember saying how handsome he was, and telling him how much I loved him.  

He was born at 6:33 PM, just 2.5 hours after we checked into our room.  Derek told me later that he was born facing up (babies are supposed to be born facing toward your back, ideally), and that explains why I felt so much pressure on my tailbone.  

Derek asked what I thought about his name, and we both agreed that the name we had been thinking about through the pregnancy fit him - Clyde Daniel.  I also loved that he had dark hair, because somehow in my head, a Clyde would have dark hair.

After a few minutes they took him to the warmer and suctioned out his mouth - because of the meconium in my water, his lungs were wet.  They said the meconium was old (they guessed it had happened about a week before), and that the cord had been wrapped around his neck once.  They suspected that he had been stressed out when the cord first got wrapped around his neck, and that might have caused the meconium.

I delivered the placenta, and when Dr. A examined it she found a clot on it and confirmed that the placenta had started to abrupt (separate from the uterine wall), and that was what had caused the blood in my water when it broke.  I asked when or how that might have happened, and they didn't have a solid answer for me - they said it might have started to sheer off in labor.  I also wondered later if all my vomiting the night before might have had something to do with it, but I never got a chance to ask.  I am so thankful though that it didn't seem to affect Clyde at all - aside from some wetness in his lungs, he was really healthy!

She also checked me out and said that I didn't need any stitches!  I had torn just a tiny little bit, but it wasn't enough for even one stitch, so I was pretty happy about that!  The recovery after Clyde's delivery was probably my easiest yet, and that was a huge blessing.

We spent the next hour just enjoying our baby boy - I nursed him, and we called our families to tell them he was here!  I talked to my family right before they put Wyatt to bed, so I got to say goodnight to him over the phone and tell him that he would get to meet his baby brother the next day.  Clyde cried while we were on the phone, and Wyatt exclaimed "That's the new baby cryin'!"  It was so cute.

A couple hours after Clyde was born they moved us over to the mom and baby ward, and my favorite doctor, Dr. B, came by to see us!  She said they had gone out to dinner after the event with her kids, and she called in and found out we had the baby.  I joked about how she missed all my screaming, and she told me again how impressed she was with how I handled labor.  She oohed and aahed over Clyde and gave me a hug.  I was so glad she stopped by to meet him!

After that we settled in for the night.  We decided not to have any visitors that evening and just wait for the next day, and I'm so glad we did - it was nice to get the rest of the evening and night just to rest and recover, and it made me feel more ready for visitors the next day!  We watched "The Strangest Weather On Earth" on the Weather Channel (it really is an interesting show), and cuddled with Clyde. It was just a nice time for the three of us.

The next morning I took a shower, we got Clyde a bath, had his hospital pictures taken, and then it was time for visitors!  My parents came with Wyatt and Gwen, and I was really excited to have the kids meet their baby brother.  Gwen was interested in the baby, maybe a little unsure, but she was sweet about it and smiled at him.  We let Wyatt "hold" the baby on his lap, and he had this huge grin on his face!  He was pretty excited.  My mom told me that he had talked about "going to see Baby Clyde" all the way to the hospital!

We had several more visitors, including Derek's mom and dad, his sister, my sister and brother-in-law, my grandma and aunt and cousins, and our friends Scott and Danae, and Jed and Ashley.  This hospital stay felt a lot more relaxed to me than in the past, I think because the nurses left us alone more.  
On Sunday morning, we decided to go home, and of course it started to snow!  We just drove slowly though, picked up the kids from my parent's house, and went home all together for the first time as a family of five!

The kids have been doing great with Clyde, and we've been trying to make sure they get plenty of attention from us too.  Derek has been working from home this week, so it's been nice to have him around while I try to get used to handling three kids!  

The first few night were pretty rough, but we finally figured out that Clyde likes light and noise while he sleeps - so a couple new night lights for his room and the Sound Sleeper app have seemed to do the trick!  He even went a 7.5 hour stretch the other night, right around his one week birthday, which was such a nice treat after all those almost-sleepless nights.

Thinking back over his birth, I am just so thankful at how everything worked out.  I can really see how the Lord worked through every situation that week and answered all of our prayers!  

-Derek was only two hours away instead of seven hours like he was supposed to be originally.

-I didn't go into labor while I was at work (which was actually one of my worries).

-Derek was able to be there for the majority of my labor and for the birth.

-We made it to the hospital at the perfect time, the nurses were all so supportive of my wish to have a natural birth.

-The Lord protected Clyde through a kind of scary situation with the placental abruption.  

I am just so thankful at how God worked out all the details for us.  It really couldn't have gone much better!  Now we are just enjoying our time with our sweet baby Clyde, and I am so thankful to have my little surprise baby in my arms!

Clyde's Birth Story - Part One

Usually I just post the entire birth story in one post, because I feel bad splitting it up and making you all wait - but for some reason Clyde's story ended up being realy long, so I'm making this two posts instead of one!

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Before I dive into Clyde's birth story, let's go over a few surrounding details, shall we?

As most of you know, Derek has to travel a lot for his job.  Throughout my pregnancy we were pretty stressed out about this, because we knew he was scheduled to be traveling 5+ hours away during the last few weeks of my pregnancy - and my entire labor with Gwen was 5.5 hours!  I was so afraid that if he was gone when I went into labor he wouldn't make it in time for the birth.  We tried talking to his bosses about working from home for a week or two, but they said it just wasn't possible, and we felt stuck.

In the last month one of the clients Derek had to work with rescheduled (thank you Lord!), and we knew he would only be a couple hours away during week 38 of my pregnancy (instead of the original 7 hours away).  I was so hoping to go into labor before the end of that week.  If he didn't come by 39 weeks, Derek would 5 hours away the week before my due date.

By the time I hit 38 weeks I was pretty stressed about going into labor before Derek had to be gone again, and I was trying all my tricks - walking, eating spicy food, etc.  I thought it might have worked on April 7th when I started having contractions - I called Derek and my mom and they rushed home. But the contractions didn't get any stronger, and they were gone four hours later.  It was so discouraging.  Derek and I just kept praying that the Lord would let the baby come before he had to be gone, and that he wouldn't miss the birth.

On Thursday, April 10th, I decided to take the kids down to the mall and walk around a little bit.  Wyatt and Gwen are such good little shopping buddies - they love riding around in our double stroller, and I thought the pushing and walking would surely do some good.  So we walked and shopped, and I bought Wyatt and me a chai latte to drink at this little shop in the mall (well, actually mostly for me, but I let Wyatt have sips).

Right as we sat down to drink it, I got a text from my friend, Danae, saying that she felt like she should be praying for me right then, so that was what she was doing.  I thought that was so sweet, though I was so wishing I could have told her that I was in labor at that moment!  It meant a lot to me though.  We finished our latte, walked a little more, then packed up and went home.

My mom came over later that night - she had stayed with me a couple nights that week since Derek was gone, and the plan was for her to be there on Thursday night since I had to go to work the next day.  I was feeling bummed, because the whole week I was hoping to not be going to work that Friday - I was hoping to be taking care of a new baby instead!  But I had resigned myself to it.

That evening, a couple things happened.  First I got a phone call from Derek - he had received an e-mail from one of his bosses saying that they decided to have him work from home the next week, instead of traveling 5 hours away!  To say I was thrilled was an understatement!  It was a huge "PTL" (Praise The Lord!) as we used to call it!  I was so thankful that the Lord had worked out that detail for us, and that I wouldn't have to stress anymore about going into labor by a certain date.  It was a huge relief.

The other thing that happened was that Wyatt threw up.  It was so sad.  I rushed him to the bathroom and leaned him over the toilet, and he was whimpering. It broke my heart.  Later he told Derek what happened over the phone - he said he "had oatmeal in his tummy" (it wasn't really oatmeal), and that he "dumped it in the toilet".  It was so cute to hear him describe the incident in his own words - he is growing up so much.

After he threw up he still wasn't feeling well, and I knew I didn't want to leave him the next morning if he was still sick.  Then I started feeling a little nauseous myself, so I decided to call work and tell them I wouldn't be in the next day.  It's a good thing I did, because Wyatt threw up again that night, and my nausea got worse and worse until I was throwing up too. I also had stomach cramps and other unpleasant symptoms.  It was a pretty miserable night.  

I thought that the chai latte we drank must have had spoiled milk or something. It was the only thing that both Wyatt and I had eaten that day.  I remembered Danae's text and wondered if this was why she was supposed to pray for me.

We made it through the night, and Wyatt seemed much better - I, on the other hand, was still feeling pretty awful by morning.  I was still having stomach cramps and felt like throwing up - I couldn't even think about eating breakfast, so my mom bought me a Slim Fast drink and crushed ice from the gas station instead.  I could only get half the Slim Fast drink down.  It was not fun.

I had a doctor's appointment that day.  We decided to head over to my mom's house and hang out there for a little bit in the morning.  My sister was coming over too, and the plan was for us all to head down for my doctor's appointment later that afternoon.  I wanted Wyatt to come to the doctor's appointment with me if it was going to be my last one, because he always got so excited to "listen to the new baby" through the doppler.

I pretty much parked myself on the couch at my mom's house and nursed my cup of ice while the kids played and watched Milo and Otis.  I was not feeling good at all.

My sister gave me weird looks, and I heard her talking to my mom about how she didn't think that I was still feeling bad because of the drink - she thought the nausea and cramps might be early labor.  I brushed her off, because I was pretty sure it was just the bad latte.  The cramps just felt like cramps, not contractions.

But that all changed pretty quickly.

Right around 11:30 I had a "cramp", but it definitely felt like a contraction.  I looked at the clock and waited, and a few minutes later I had another cramp that felt like a contraction.  My mom and sister were getting things ready for us to go, and the cramps kept getting more contraction-like.  I told my mom and sister that I thought we should probably just head down then. 

We all piled in the car, and I was pretty stressed out.  I had been timing the contractions, and even though they were still very mild, they were only about 4 minutes apart!  I called Derek and told him that I thought he should probably leave to come meet us, and he started to wrap things up at work so he could leave.

My doctor had been pretty adamant about me coming in at the first contraction, and even though I had that false labor on Monday, I could tell these contractions were different.  I went ahead and called my doctor to tell them we were coming down.  They said to head straight over to the hospital, since we were about an hour and twenty minutes away, and they thought it might move fast.

All the way down I timed the contractions, and they stayed steady at 4 minutes apart, but they started to get a little stronger.  I started sow-breathing through them.  Thankfully at this point my nausea had faded quite a bit.  I decided I should probably eat something before I headed to the hospital, so we stopped and my mom got me a smoothie.  We arrived at the hospital and parked in front of the emergency room to wait for Derek to get there, with me sipping my smoothie in between contractions.  I was really worried that I would drink it and then throw it up again, but it actually made me feel even better, and my nausea was soon completely gone.

I remember just sitting, chatting with my mom and sister, and then when a contraction came on I would stare at this smiley-face balloon that was tied to a stop sign across the street.  The contractions had definitely gotten stronger at this point, but it was that good, solid kind of contraction pain, completely manageable.  I just stared at that balloon and breathed through contractions.

Derek, in the meantime, was speeding through traffic, frantic to get to the hospital in case my labor went as quickly as it did with Gwen.  Finally he arrived, but I convinced him to go get himself some lunch before we went in.  It was about 1:30 by this point, and I knew the contractions weren't strong enough that we had to go in right that second.

Once Derek had eaten, I got out of the car, and we started to get our bags out so we could get checked in.  But after I stood up and moved around some, the contractions were suddenly way lighter - they were only lasting about 20 seconds instead of 40-50, and I could walk and talk through them, instead of having to breath.  I started to worry that maybe this really was false labor after all, and I was so discouraged.  My mom and sister thought we should try walking around the hospital before we went in to see if we could get them to pick up some, and I thought that was a good idea.   

I told Wyatt I was going to go have the new baby, and he was so cute about it.  We said goodbye to them, kissed the kids, and they left.  I was glad I got to spend some of early labor with my mom and sister, and I loved having Wyatt and Gwen to talk to and hug and kiss - I was sorry to see them go, and I was still hoping that this was the real deal.

Derek and I put our bags in his car and started walking around the hospital grounds - but it seemed like the more we walked, the easier my contractions got, though they were still 4 minutes apart.  I was really discouraged at this point, but I think a part of me still knew that this wasn't a false alarm.  We stopped by the bathroom on our way around the hospital, and I took one last belly picture:

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We had just finished our first lap around the outside of the hospital when I got a call from my doctor's office.  It was one of the nurses saying that she had received a call from the hospital wondering where we were (I thought they might be freaking out a bit, considering my history of not making it there).  I told them that we were there, we were just walking around outside because my contractions had slowed down a bit.  It was almost 2:30 by now, which was the time of my original doctor's appointment, so the nurse asked us if we wanted to come into the office to get checked out.  I didn't even think of this before, so I was happy we could at least go there for a quick check!  The office building is right next to the hospital, so we walked over.

We went in and sat in the waiting room, and I noticed that the contractions were worse when I was sitting down.  We were brought back to the exam room, and I started getting emotional because I really didn't want it to be false labor.  My favorite doctor (we'll call her Dr. B), came in right after I teared up.  Dr. B and I have really good rapport, and she asked if I was in pain, and I told her no, that I was just frustrated about the contractions slowing down.  She was really sympathetic and said she would go ahead and check my cervix.  

She told me I was at 4 cm, and I thought that was really encouraging!  I was hoping for at least a 4, since at my last appointment I had been at 2 cm.    She told us we could head over to the hospital, but if we didn't want to go yet she wanted us to stay close while things progressed. 

We told her we had been thinking about going to a movie theater.  This was part of the "birth plan" that Derek and I had discussed before - that we might go to a movie in early labor so we could be close the hospital (since we live an hour away), but not in the hospital.  Dr. B got this funny look on her face and said she didn't know about a movie - she suggested maybe we just get something to eat first and see where we were.  So Derek and I decided to go get some ice cream.

We walked back over the hospital, climbed in the car, and drove two minutes over to Baskin Robbins.  Right after we got in the car my contractions spaced out to 6 minutes apart, but all of a sudden they were more painful again.  

I didn't really want a whole ice cream to myself, so we decided to split one.  I just waited in the car while Derek ran in to buy it, because I didn't want to have a contraction in the middle of Baskin Robbins.

The contractions had definitely taken a step up in intensity just in those few minutes, and I started doing my "he he" breathing through them.  After Derek came back out to the car I made him wait until I had my next contraction to drive back over the the hospital, because I didn't want to be driving while I was dealing with a contraction.  It amazed me how quickly things got more painful.  It happened suddenly with Gwen too, but it still surprised me.

We ate a little bit more of our ice cream in the hospital parking lot, but I knew that we shouldn't wait too much longer to go in.  I was already not looking forward to trying to check in through my contractions.  We finished up, grabbed our bags, and headed in. . .

Look for Part Two tomorrow!

Guess Who's Here!

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Clyde Daniel was born on April 11th at 6:33 PM, weighing 7 lbs, 10 oz, 20 inches long!  

Everything went smoothly, Derek was there for most of the labor and for the birth, and we all are doing great!  Mr. Clyde has been such a content baby so far - he is perfect, and we are so in love with him! 

Thank you for all of your prayers - it has meant a lot to me to know you all were praying.  We feel so blessed to have him here!

Birth story coming soon!

Home Stretch! {36 Weeks With Baby #3}

Nine months pregnant this week!


I am feeling pretty good overall.  I get this awful hip pain at the end of the day sometimes (mostly in my left hip).  Heartburn is still pretty strong, especially when I lay down at night.  I feel some pressure down low, mostly when I've been on my feet for a while.  And I've been having a lot more Braxton-Hicks contractions in the last week or so!  Not more than three in an hour though.

The nursery is pretty much completed!  I got the glider put together (all by myself, I might add - yay me), I got the quilt back and finished it, and I sewed together a pillowcase for the glider pillow.  I have a few more ideas for decorations on the walls, but I can't do them until we know his name for sure.  Even though we are 95% positive we have his name figured out, I just feel safer waiting until we see him and it's on the birth certificate.  Just in case we change our minds last minute.  I'll probably do the full nursery reveal after he's born and I have a chance to finish the walls, but I will show you the baby quilt before that, so stay tuned!

I have my hospital bag packed, and it's in the car ready to go.  I want to have it ready whenever I go out, and especially on days when I have doctor's appointments, because you just never know if they might catch something at the office and send me over to the hospital.

I think Baby has definitely been growing bigger the last couple weeks.  I was thinking maybe he moved back up under my ribs again, but then someone commented that maybe he's just getting bigger, and I think that is more likely.  He's definitely heavier - when he pushes out the side of my belly it is more forceful.  I don't think he is in the same position as Wyatt and Gwen were at this point though - I'm not sure what that means.  It just feels different.


I'm kind of crossing my fingers that he'll decide to come by 39 weeks, because Derek will be working closer to home for the next couple weeks (only two hours away)!  After that he'll be about five hours away. I wouldn't mind a bit if this baby decided to show a week or two before my due date if it means we can skip having Derek so far away!  We shall see.  It will all work out, right? (I always think of the movie Leap Year when I say "it will all work out").

Updates from my doctor's appointment today - I am dilated 1 cm, and about 50% effaced.  That is about where I was with both Wyatt and Gwen at 36 weeks too.  Next week will be the interesting appointment, to see if there is any progress.  

I didn't gain any weight in the last two weeks, so the rapid weight gain has finally evened out!  I didn't change my eating habits much in the last two weeks either, so it's probably that weight plateau you can hit before baby decides to come.  I'm holding steady at 28 pounds.  We'll see if I gain any more in the next week.

They measured my uterus today and I'm measuring about 3 weeks behind - 33 cm.  So they decided to schedule a growth check ultrasound after my appointment next week to make sure he's growing well in there.  My doctor didn't seem too worried because she says he's probably just tucked further down in my pelvis. This happened with Wyatt as well, and he measured fine on the ultrasound, so I think this little guy will too.

I can't believe I'm 36.5 weeks already - this pregnancy went by really fast in a lot of ways.  It's crazy to think that in a few more weeks we'll have another little one here in our arms!  It almost seems surreal to me right now.  The end of this pregnancy snuck up on me, but I'm getting more anxious to see his precious face!  I am so thankful, and excited to meet this sweet little blessing!

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I Don't Sleep Like I Used To

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I push the hair out of my eyes and squint at the clock on my bedside table, barely registering a number starting with 4.  A little voice comes squealing through the baby monitor, and I bite back a sigh.

I flip the covers back and climb the stairs, the dog following close behind, thinking about how soundly I used to sleep back in the day.  I open the door and turn on the light and she gives me a squinty-eyed look and desperate little whimper.  I go pick her up and hand her a blanket, ready for screams when I tell her she's fine and she needs to go back to sleep.  

But before I can say anything she tucks her head into the place between my chin and my collar bone, eyes closed, sucking away on her tiny thumb.  I melt a little and forget what I was going to say.

All of a sudden I can't put her down, so we stand there and rock for a few minutes.  I think I could stay there forever, but I know I better get back to bed myself, so I lay her quiet form down and tuck her back in.

I collapse in my own bed and fall asleep again almost immediately, but a couple hours later I hear a familiar, thump, thump, thump, coming down the stairs, the signal that my rest is almost over.  I roll over and open my eyes, and two little brown ones stare back at me over the edge of the bed.  

I ask if he wants to climb in bed with me, and he nods his head - this is our routine.  I hoist him off the floor and deposit him into the spot next to me where he always sits after his daddy has gone for the day.  I settle him against the pillows and pull a blanket up to his chin, but he isn't satisfied because he "f'got blanket".  His favorite blanket isn't in sight.  I tell him I'll get it and climb the stairs again in the dim beginnings of morning light.

Once he has his blanket he settles down with his toy car, his balloon, and his thumb in his mouth.  This is our time together before the day begins.

As I close my eyes with my son curled up next to me, not all is quiet - another son of mine tosses and turns and kicks, trying to get comfortable inside my womb.  Only I know, his movements and habits our secret for now.  

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He settles down, and I settle down, and the house is quiet until the sun bursts through the window a little while later.  One little voice calls from upstairs again, one little voice jabbers about brushing teeth, and one little kick greets me with "good morning, Mama".

No, I don't sleep like I used to.  But I wouldn't change a thing.

Gwendolyn Is One Year Old!

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(A sneak peek of Gwen's 1st birthday party invitations!)

Miss Gwen is officially a one year old!

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This last month has been so much fun - I feel like she has just grown by leaps and bounds in one month!

-Her four front teeth are coming in nicely, and they make her little grins that much cuter (if it was possible for her to get cuter).

-Her hair seems to be growing in thicker all of a sudden, and this month we did her first pigtails!

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-Playing peek-a-boo.  We've played it in the past, but she re-discovered it in the grocery store the other day and couldn't stop giggling.  It was so cute to see her lift her little blanket over her head and then drop it back down over and over again.

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-She has gotten even more comfortable cruising around furniture, and she has stood for several seconds by herself!  I need to find her some good shoes, because I think she feels a little unstable still, like Wyatt did.  But she is very mobile and gets into everything.

-She learned to say "dog" this month, which really sounds more like "da".  It's cute!

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-She got a little play makeup/vanity set for Christmas, and the other day I showed her how to use the powder puff and lipstick.  She just lit up, and she started trying to put the lipstick on me, and rubbed the powder puff all over my face!  It was one of those moments where I was just so glad to have a little girl - what fun we're going to have as she grows!

-She likes to copy everything Wyatt does, and cars are still some of her favorite toys.

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-She's developed a new love for stuffed animals!  We went to the zoo to see Christmas lights, and she got really attached to this sloth stuffed animal, so we were sneaky and bought it for her birthday - she loves it!  I caught her talking to it, and moving it's arms the other day - it's so cute to watch her playing get more and more "sophisticated", so to speak.

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-She loves using a sippy cup, and since she turned a year I've been giving her more of the same food we eat, since we're past all that allergy stuff.  She loves it!  She wants to do the same things she sees us doing, and she gets upset when I don't let her try a certain food.  She's growing so fast!

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-She is growing out of a lot of her 12 month clothes, but she's still a little small for a lot of 18 month clothes, so we're in a weird middle spot.  She's in size 3 diapers, size 3 shoes.

-We are in the midst of teething, and it's been really rough on her.  Wyatt never had that hard of a time with it, but she does.  It amazes me how she seems to know that the medicine we give her makes her feel better.  She calms down as soon as we give it to her because she knows she'll feel better soon!

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-We celebrated our first Christmas with Gwen, and she loved opening her presents!  She wasn't even interested in the paper, she knew that there were toys and other fun stuff underneath it!

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-Gwen's personality is just so sweet, and she just seems so much more grown up to me all of a sudden.  I still call her my "Baby Doll", but it struck me the other day that she is seeming less like a baby and more like a little girl.  It's bittersweet - I'm always sorry to see the sweet baby days going, but then there are moments (like with the makeup) when I know that we have so much fun ahead of us too!

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My Sweet Baby Girl,
You are a year old!  I can hardly believe how fast this year has gone.  I turned around the other day and realized your baby days are on their way out.  I treasure every moment with you, Sweet Girl, and I've loved every minute of these baby days with you - it makes me sad in a way, to see them go.  But then you grin at me and try to put makeup on my face, or share your bottle with me, or kiss your stuffed animal, and I know that we have so many more precious times ahead of us - and they are going to be so much fun!  I love watching you grow and learn new things.  I love watching your personality develop with each passing day.  I so look forward to being able to teach you more about Jesus as you start understanding more this next year.  You are growing up, and I will love every minute of all the years we have ahead of us!  But still know, Gwen-Girl, that at the same time, you will always be my baby.  I love you so much, Baby Doll, more than I can ever tell you.

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