Friday, September 28, 2012

7 New Mom BFF's

I've been a mommy for a whole 7 days! It's been a busy, beautiful, a bit-of-a-blur 7 days that I wouldn't trade for the world. Seven days does NOT make me an expert mommy, I'm working mostly by instinct here and with advice from other mommy's, but I have a few BFF's already. If you have no idea what to get a new mommy, this list might help you out in picking some must need items.

By the way, ALL these items were either recommended to me by other mom's or given to me by other mom's. I tried to give them credit here because they obviously know what they're talking about - and I thank God they're in my life!
  1. Lanolin
    My sister, best friend, lactation consultant, and mommy's everywhere have recommended this stuff to me more times than I can count. Do I ever agree. When you're learning how to breast feed and the art of latching correctly, your boobs become overwhelmingly sore and tender. This stuff will save you from seeing stars each time you feed your little one. Load up new mommy's with this stuff!
  2. Medela Breast PumpI LOVE my pump, which I'm borrowing from a family friend, because when I'm full and so is she, I make a bottle or two, which allows Daddy some excellent bonding time by feeding her a bottle and gives mommy's tender breasts a break. My friend Deb gave me the idea to leave the bottle feeding up to Daddy and I couldn't believe how excited he was to feed her. I am so thankful he enjoys that time with her, that she took to the bottle so easily, and that she transitions flawlessly between the breast and the bottle. Yay!
  3. SwaddleMeMy best friend Megan gave me two of these and I LOVE them. It's so easy to swaddle her over active hands, keeping her from waking herself up, wacking herself in the face, scratching herself, etc. etc. This is definitely a perfect gift for any expectant mommy.
  4. Swing
    My mom found a portable swing that lights up and plays music at a thrift store, looking brand new! Mom told me it would be a life saver, I can already tell she was right. Lately I've been doing more cuddling with her than anything else :) but when I need both hands, this is where I put her and she seems content.
  5. Aveeno Baby LotionMy sister Mel swears by this stuff and now I do as well. The day after she was born she had such dry and chapped feet, poor thing. So I rubbed her feet down, put on some socks, and her skin has been soft and silky smooth since - great product. Another great gift idea.
  6. Car Seat Head and Body SupportThis is an awesome product that my sister-in-law Sam and my sister Mel both said, "You've got to have one of these." It keeps their little head from boppin' around in the car seat and their snug as a bug in a rug.
  7. Pacifier
    My lactation consultant probably wouldn't agree with me here, but I'm telling you that once she learned to suck on it, my breasts did not become her "pacifier." This one I talked to my own mom about and she advised using one because she said, "it'd save me when nothing else worked." Thank you mom for the advice! I literally think she would suck and suck and suck until I was raw. So after each feeding when she decides that she's full and ten minutes later is acting like she wants to eat again, I put in the pacifier and she's content. I really think that sucking puts babies in their happy place - she sucks on her hands, my fingers, my shirt collar, cheek, whatever. If she's fed, diaper dry, mommy's holding her, and she's still screaming, this usually does the trick. It definitely took her a few days to learn, but once she figured it out, she seems to love it. And so does mommy.
I'm positive that all these mommy's would have other items to add to this list. I've seen these mom's in action so I can not only trust their advice, but trust the products I'm using because they recommended them to me. Now, I can't imagine life without these products and it's only been 7 days! So this is my way of saying "THANK YOU" to these mommy's and hopefully helping other new mommy's know what should be on their "must-have" list.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Baby "B's" Birth

Waiting. It's one of the hardest, longest elements of pregnancy. I waited 40 weeks and 6 days to hold my beautiful baby girl. I waited through nearly 22 hours of labor to finally hold my baby girl. And even after she was born I was forced to wait and hold my baby girl. I found the wait so difficult because I had made a few choices that made me anxious: quitting my job and choosing a natural delivery. Both were scary. I loved my job as a reading teacher and the month spent at home instead of at school was difficult. I was bored, disappointed, jealous, anxious, sad, and and and.... I wanted to be teaching and I regretted quitting. However, I knew that the feeling of regret would go away the moment I held her in my arms, and was that ever true. So I couldn't wait for that end result! Plus, pregnancy involves labor. No matter what birthing plan you choose you are going to inevitably experience pain. That terrified me because I really had no idea what to expect, I had no idea how long it was going to last, and I had no idea when it was going to start! The combination of all those unknowns scared the bejeebees out of me. Knowing what I know now, would I endure the wait again? Heck yes!

How did I handle the wait?

I wrote about it here:
AND I created 3 song playlists on iTunes that helped me focus on worshiping God through this process. I needed His strength, His love, and I needed to remember that He is faithful. So when I began feeling terrified, I used these playlists to worship an amazing God. He has been faithful through our entire pregnancy. Blessing us with health, gifts galore, and much, much more. The entire pregnancy process is absolutely amazing. The more I learned, the more I knew without a shadow of a doubt that there is a a God. An amazing God who's depth of knowledge and understanding FAR SURPASSES MINE. Psalm 139 proves this:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,"
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me in my mothers womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

My goal was to make this experience a GOD EXPERIENCE. So I began praying that last part in purple: "Know my thoughts, Lord. Create in me a clean heart. Help me to worship you and focus on you!" After all, He is in control of the entire process, so I wanted to make sure that the words I said, the meditation of my heart, my thoughts, everything revolved around making sure HE got the credit. I found that in my most impatient moments, or when I became terrified of the inevitable pain, or when I became frustrated with the wait, this was extremely hard for me to do. So these play lists were not only to be my focus while being in labor, but they helped get me through some pretty low moments. I conveyed this goal to Deb, who disciples me, and asked her to pray for me through this journey. She sent me a sermon by Ron Hutchcraft about the importance of our words and how it's a direct reflection of our heart. I didn't want to forget a portion of that sermon:
"Right now I think the battle for Christ to truly rule your life and mine may revolve around this question: does Jesus govern your tongue? ... make Jesus Christ so real that He becomes the Master of your mouth. All day long you're transmitting to the people around you. Does it sound like Jesus? When you have surrendered the transmitter to Christ, then He is really in charge."
Reading this quote was a great reminder of my ultimate goal: to worship my God and Savior. Since we are called to worship God in all we do, what better way to do that than in moments of sheer joy and pain? He's in control of it all anyway, so I wanted to worship Him for it and this helped me push all "I'm terrified..." thoughts away and focus on the greatness of my God.
As I waited for the labor to begin, I prayed and begged and dealt with this charge I had given myself. I knew this experience wasn't going to leave me unchanged.

And as I write this story, I bawl, because the change I experienced was more than I ever, ever expected.

The Labor Story begins on my due date, September 14th. Yes, the date came and went without our baby, but that's the day I meandered into the doctor's office completely closed and walked out 1 cm. I wouldn't call it a pleasant experience per say, but it did get the ball rolling. The doctor kept using words like, "I hope..." and "This should..." so I too was hoping that it'd help, making that whole experience worthwhile. Especially when the doctor said, "I wasn't very nice to you today..."

Thankfully, around 10:30 that night I began losing my mucus plug. I knew that didn't necessarily mean immediate labor, dang it. But it was the progress I'd been begging to see days ago! It meant that meeting my daughter was sooner rather than later.

But it still required more waiting...

I couldn't even go on a walk without people commenting on how pregnant I looked! It was a constant reminder of how anxious I was to meet her and how uncomfortable I felt. There were times I literally needed to get out of the house or I was going to "lose it," only to have those feelings pushed to the forefront of my brain allllll over again.

I couldn't wait for labor to start! Still, the waiting for labor to start only meant I'd be waiting again for it all to be over and finally get to hold her. The waiting game was getting on my very last nerve. One woman told me that 30 years ago she went four weeks overdue! Holy crapola, did that ever put my waiting into perspective. Could you even imagine waiting that long? So whenever I thought that I couldn't take it anymore I'd think back to her, which made my experience seem less... depressing. I mean whoop-di-dooooo... what's a few days compared to four weeks? Four weeks overdue is like an eternity of hell, or a sick form of torture in a pregnant woman's world! When I felt like complaining or whining a significant amount, I'd remind myself of her story and tell my brain to "shut up" or "suck it up," either way it worked for a little bit.

Still, the waiting began driving me insane....

I thought my waiting was over when contractions sorta started around 4 A.M. on September 18th. They were about 10 to 15 minutes apart and anywhere between 10 to 20 seconds in duration. However, this ended around a quarter till 9. So I cried and decided to take a nap, it was the easier way to cope with more waiting....

I woke up to a contraction at 12:01 (I remember looking at my cell phone) and did not have another one. Ugh. From that point on it felt like I was on the first day of my period with lower abdominal cramping.

I began to make it a point to look at the clock every single time I had a contraction and wrote it down on a scrap piece of paper: 


They were a tad painful and extremely, frustratingly inconsistent.

Then we went to church that evening (I had to do something or lose my mind) and of course everyone had something to say. Thankfully, I picked up a great pointer from a fellow pregnant patron. She said that one thing she read was making a point to relax your jaw. We have a tendency to clinch it when we're in pain and that causes that much more anxiety and tension. So true! Once I began focusing on relaxing my jaw, my neck, shoulders, back, etc. followed suit. Which totally made sense! I had a light bulb moment. As a former sprinter and a former sprint coach we spent a lot of practice time focusing on relaxing the jaw to increase speed. Duh! It would only make sense to apply that same concept here.

I left church with a splitting headache and I believe it was because I experienced three kind-of intense contractions during our Bible study and guess what I was doing? Clinching my jaw.

At this point I had been experiencing contractions off and on since 4 A.M. Although they weren't overly painful, they were tolerable, the experience was a long, drawn out, frustrating one. So it left me feeling emotionally exhausted and the work hadn't even begun yet....

Kyle and I knew that the time we'd be meeting our daughter was drawing closer, but there was still more waiting...

I am thankful that we were allowed a full night's sleep. However, relaxing enough to fall asleep was difficult until I remembered our church's memory verse of the month: Proverbs 3:5-6,
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths."
I just needed to let go and let God. So I began praying that God would help me trust in Him fully, even through the waiting, knowing that He is in control. A peace swept over me that I can not explain. This was another turning point for me, where I felt at peace with going over and waiting on God.

That morning, on September 19th, I woke up for the first time feeling okay with waiting!

That same day we had an appointment and they monitored  her heart rate for twenty minutes. During that time she had two major decelerations, where her heartbeat actually slowed to less than 80 bpm. This concerned the doctor tremendously, and scared us to death, so she ordered us go down to the hospital for long term monitoring. I made it to the car before I burst into tears and there we prayed for the well being of our child. "Not our will but Yours Lord. Help us trust you, we're scared." 

My husband quickly drove to the hospital where they monitored her heart rate for two hours, checked my cervix, twice, used an ultrasound to calculate how much fluid she had to roam around in, and determined that the data showed some concerns where they felt I needed to be induced within the next couple of days, but nothing that would require an emergency induction like the doctor originally thought. We were thinking we were going to have to be induced right then and there, so we were thanking God! The doctor stretched me another half a centimeter, hoping this would get the ball rolling naturally, and gave me my discharge papers.

By this time it was close to six in the evening and I was starving, for french fries. :) So we went to grab a bite to eat and while we were enjoying dinner, contractions started. They were strong for 30-40 seconds and were three to five minutes apart. This lasted the entire hour we were at the restaurant so we decided to stay and walk around for a while, thinking the doctor might not want us to go very far. We walked around the mall until around 9 pm and called, explaining that I'd been having these contractions for three hours straight. The doctor explained this is expected behavior after being stretched and didn't seem certain that these contractions wouldn't fizzle out. We were told to go home and call if they got more intense and continued through the night.

Continue they did! We got home a little after ten and they were now two to four minutes apart and they were most definitely more intense. We decided to try and get some sleep in our own bed and go from there. Around 12:30 I had one of the more intense contractions that left me feeling nauseated, so that was the end of laying in the bed.

The intensity of each contraction continued and the time between each contraction was anywhere between two to three minutes. This was only the beginning....

Our waiting was almost over! But ... there was a lot of work to do.

And the true birth story has only begun.

We arrived at the hospital around 4 in the morning and the doctor broke my water at 7:45. He told me the contractions will gain in intensity at this point, and he wasn't kidding. At this point I was still only about two centimeters dilated and the contractions were lasting longer with less and less break between.  I was able to breath through them with Kyle's help, reminding me to breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out and to relax my jaw! My breathing out came out as either a scream or Tarzan woman, but for some reason that helped. The nurses told me to let it all out anyway.

My sister Mel arrived and captured Kyle as he helped me through another contraction. I can't even begin to explain to you how amazing he was through this entire process. I thought I loved him before....
The contractions were extremely painful, as I have been told they would be numerous times before. I'm so glad I spent time preparing my mind for those moments, because the intensity is nothing I can possibly explain. It hurt. A lot. By this time the intensity, duration, and distance between the contractions would suggest that I was in my final stages of labor. Plus, the contractions left me nauseous. I threw up at least three times. My sister even took pictures of the contraption that captured the contractions and the difference between when she arrived and a few hours later.

The bottom "graph" shows the peaks of contractions, the top portion (in blue) shows baby's heartbeat.
You can see the peaks increase significantly, going off the charts, so based on this fact we thought I was getting close to the end.
I was doing everything I could to hold it together. My mom told me that just when I thought I couldn't handle it anymore, it was almost over. I was most definitely getting to that point. However, hours into the labor (it's a blur so I couldn't tell you how many exactly) the doctor checked me. Which was absolutely miserable because I was having back labor. Every single time I laid down the contractions were significantly more painful. I was still only two centimeters.

The doctor began getting concerned because with every contraction our baby's heart rate would drop significantly. So I had to continue being monitored, which didn't allow me to walk around, take a shower, or do any of the relaxing ideas I had thought up ahead of time. This was literally making me lose my mind.

We decided to try "shock therapy" which was called water papules. They put a sterile saline solution into my back to block the nerves. It was one way where we could naturally help with the intense back labor I was experiencing. I can honestly tell you this was by far one of the most painful experiences I've ever had. It was a burning and stinging sensation unlike anything I can possibly explain. However, once it was over, the back pain was eliminated. Hallelujah!

So I endured and waited to begin feeling that intense "I've got to push" feeling every single woman talks about, but it never came. Now the contractions were gaining in intensity to the point were I did not have more than a 30 second break. The doctor checked me again and the moment I laid on my back the back labor began again. I was still only two centimeters!

At this point I lost it. I had been in labor for nearly 20 hours and I was losing my mind. Mel and Kyle did everything they could to help me, and the doctor was getting extremely concerned. So she laid it out for me like this: "We are concerned about the baby's heart rate. Either we try an epidural to try and relax your cervix and get it to open, or we have to do an emergency c-section."

Ok, easy decision right? Vaginal birth - first choice. Every decision I had made revolved around my baby's health and what I thought was best for her, so if this was going to help her, I didn't hesitate in my decision. After all, I knew something was wrong. I had experienced natural labor and should be experiencing a natural birth at this point! I don't really remember my thought process a whole lot at this point, but I remember hearing "concerned about baby" and whatever I had to do to keep her, I was going to do it. So after the epidural I anticipated the relief women talk about so frequently. The problem was, it didn't work. It didn't block the pain and it didn't work as the doctor had hoped. My feet were numb and that's it. About an hour or so (it may be have been shorter) after getting the epidural and enduring peak to peak contractions - I didn't have a break, I was contracting and contracting and contracting, the doctor checked me again and I was still a measly three centimeters. Plus the contractions were still wrecking havoc on her heart beat.

I was hysterical. Begging for help, pleading for them to do something. I knew that if it took on average an hour for the cervix to dilate one centimeter I could be in labor for another seven hours. I had already endured nearly 20 hours. Plus, I remember asking Kyle,

"There's something wrong. Why am I only 3 cm?"

That's when the doctor took over and said, "Enough. We have to do an emergency c-section or we are going to lose her."

The moment they stopped my contractions, Brielle's heart rate went up. Good news.

Still, we didn't know what to expect. The whole concept of going into emergency surgery scared us to death and nearly broke my heart. I had to be knocked out which means I would be missing the moments I was looking forward to the most - seeing daddy hold her for the first time, hearing her first cry...

Thankfully Mel was there with her camera to capture those moments and every time I look at these pictures I burst into tears. They are so precious to me.

First Cry.
Daddy's first meeting.

Holding her for the first time.
After surgery it took a while before I was lucid. Mel and Kyle both claim that in my stupor I was whispering her name over and over again, but I do not remember this.
Daddy introducing her to me.

I have never, in the six years of knowing Kyle, seen him act the way he did that day. I cannot look at this picture without bursting into tears. Mel said the moment I was whisked into surgery, Kyle began shaking uncontrollably and it did not stop until he saw that I was okay. If you know Kyle at all, you'd know that going 24 hours without eating is a big deal, but later he told me he "just couldn't eat." The moments before surgery with Kyle were some of the most intimate, most precious memories I have of this whole experience. We prayed, cried, and held each other. The other day I asked Kyle how he felt about this whole experience and his reply was, "I love you more now than I ever did."

When I started waking up and really looking at her...

She's so beautiful.

These pictures fill in gaps I missed. I thank God every day that Mel was there to capture them.

Nurses told me later that I had an amazing support team and that it was one they wished they could record for others to watch and learn from them. I was not only honored, but thankful, and not at all surprised. I couldn't agree more. Kyle would help me breath, let me lean into him, remind me to relax, squeeze his hand, and Mel would reassure me, rub my back, offer me water, chap stick, whatever I needed. I could NOT have done it without them. God blessed me with an amazing family.

After birth the story continues... My iron levels were extremely low, my blood pressure a tad scary, and my heart rate was in the 110's. Which means my heart was pumping over time to try and compensate for blood loss. Which no one could explain. They said I didn't bleed tremendously during birth, surgery, or afterwards, so they couldn't understand why my vitals weren't checking out. My doctor recommended a blood transfusion. After getting my transfusion, they were checking me over and discovered I had significant bruising and swelling from my belly button down, which had not existed hours before. They feared internal bleeding.

More waiting and praying was required in order to determine if this was something major enough where they would have to reopen me and repair the damage, or if it would clog and repair itself. At least it answered the question as to where my blood had gone. Thankfully, it looks as though it will repair itself because the bruise has gone unchanged. However, the recovery is a long drawn out, you guessed it, waiting process. I'm once again trying to be patient.
My IV and blood transfusion mess... they poked me three different times while I was in labor because I was having these weird swelling reactions to the IV line. They had to call the IV team to come in and figure out what the heck was going on. The nurse told me she'd never seen anything like it. Haha, do you know how many times I heard that?
Hindsight, would I go through another natural delivery after this experience? Yes. Like I stated in my blog about Labor & Delivery: Pain Medication vs. Natural Birth unless there's an emergency, I still believe in a medication free birth. (After all, the epidural didn't even work for me!) Every decision I made was for my baby's well being. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do about my cervix. The doctor told me later that it acted like a funnel, were the top was 3 centimeters and the bottom was opening as it should. She also told me that when she opened me up my uterine wall was as thin as a woman who had been pushing. So with each contraction my little girls head was being pushed into a tiny hole, causing me pain, and causing her to lose oxygen, dropping her heart rate. The entire experience was a very scary one. I thought I was going to lose her. I do not regret my decision process, the preparation process, or the process of labor. It was all worth it. Including the recovery. I'm not only recovering from the effects of an intense labor, but also major surgery. The bigger question I guess would be, CAN I do it again? Yes. The doctor told me she stitched me in a way that would allow me to try a vaginal birth again if I so desired. Was it painful? Um, yes. I can't describe it. Based on the fact that I was in my final stages of labor, med-free, just unable to push, I know, without a shadow of a doubt that I could do it again. Thankfully, like every woman has told me a thousand times before, you forget once you hold your precious child in your arms.

Was the wait worth it? Absolutely. I was blessed with a very healthy little girl who scored a 9 out of 10 on the Apgar Score, who weighed in at 6 lbs 5 oz and was 19 1/4" long. She has a very healthy scream and she loves to eat. She left the hospital weighing one ounce less than her birth weight. And she has two parents who thank God every day that He blessed us with such an amazing child. Baby Brielle's birth changed me in more ways than I can count. I have no doubt that while I was in pain, while we were scared for our lives, God was in control of it all, asking us to trust Him fully. So we praise God for our health, my recovery, and our very precious, very loved baby girl Brielle.


Bri = Strength in Hebrew
elle = God (like El Shaddai)
Her name means "God is my Strength"
How perfectly fitting is that?
I could NOT have done this without HIS strength.
To HIM be the glory!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pregnancy & Labor Funnies

These last few days of waiting have been some of the most trying on my patience. Thankfully, I'm surrounded by people who lighten my mood. I thought I'd share some of these quotes from family and friends, as well as some "funnies" that they shared with me.

I asked a friend to give me some encouragement, as I was losing my mind, and this is part of the advice she gave me: "Enjoy the last days of your who-haw not being on fire."

We invited a couple over for dinner who had a baby a few months ago, the father's advice to Kyle was this, "Labor is an awesome experience, there's nothing like it. And, man, you think you're tough?! Heh. Heh."

Betty White has an amazing quote that I saw on Pinterest that totally relates to this topic! “Why do people say "grow some balls?" Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.”

Pinned Image

I had a friend post these on my facebook wall:
Q. My childbirth instructor says it's not pain I'll feel during labor, but pressure. Is she right?
A. Yes, in the same way that a tornado might be called an air current.

Q. When will my baby move?
A. With any luck, right after he finishes high school.

Q.Since I became pregnant, my breasts, rear-end, and even my feet have grown. Is there anything that gets smaller during pregnancy?
A. Yes, your bladder.

Q. What's the difference between a nine-month pregnant woman and a model?
A. Nothing, if the pregnant woman's husband knows what's good for him.

Conversation with my sister one afternoon:
Me: I have so many projects I could do, but I'm waiting on another project to get done. I feel like I'm waiting for everything right now!
Sister: Yup, waiting, waiting, waiting. You wait 40 weeks for baby and 18 years to sleep again!

And I'll end with....

Monday, September 17, 2012

Marley Man's Weird Quirk #22, #23, #24, #25...

Back in June I wrote about My Little Marley Man and all his weird quirks: My Little Marley Man. As the days go by, I'm realizing just how weird he actually is and could keep adding on....

Weird Quirk #22: He smells our yawns. If we're holding him, he'll get his nose right into our mouth and smell as we yawn. This is annoying and no matter how many times we tell him no, he continues to do it.

Weird Quirk #23: He has a few favorite spots. One of them is outside, leaning against the garage, right in the sun. It's a prime spot I guess, because you can see everything that's happening and it's warm. I'm not sure he enjoyed it when my little niece Alexi decided to join him one morning though...

Weird Quirk #24: When you gasp and point (even if there's NOTHING there) Marley will frantically look around and begin a "deep" throat growl, or his high pitch bark.

Weird Quirk #25: If I talk to Marley directly, he puts his paws over my mouth almost like he's telling me to "shut up," but if you pay close attention to every thing else you can tell he's absolutely loving every minute of the attention. Such a baby!

Weird Quirk #26: He barks at the rocks we throw in a lake. He kinda wants to go after them, but is a tad leery of the water. So he'll stand up to his belly in the water and bark at the rocks as they skip across the surface.

Weird Quirk #27: He loves to ride in the basket on a bike! He just looks around and takes it all in...

Weird Quirk #28: Any time he encounters a metal drainage cover or the sewage covers during a walk, he either hops over it or walks clear around it. He avoids them at all costs. They're scary.

Weird Quirk #29: He loves to bounce with me on the exercise ball. While very pregnant and ready to pop I sit on it and bounce around, he begs to join me! One time as I held him close and bounced, bounced, bounced, he had a hard time keeping his eyes open!

Weird Quirk #30: His favorite place to hang out is in the nursery. I'll go in there to find him just lounging on the rug, looking around....

Weird Quirk #31: Marley loves anyone who will give him attention and throw his ball. However, there is one person he does not like: the mailman. I don't let him outdoors alone between the times of 10 and 2 because the mailman is a tad afraid of him I think. Especially after the time Marley "went after him" so he threw our mail on our porch and took off, not even turning around to hear me apologize profusely. Still, how can you be afraid of a little dog when after his master yelled at him and he rolled over on his back and pissed himself. Really?!

Weird Quirk #32: When we take Marley for a walk we are diligent about him staying between us, behind us, and his attention needs to be on us. This requires some frustrating consistency, but Marley has two speeds: walking and sprinting. We used to watch the dog whisperer do his thing and found out that dogs need a little tap on the rear occasionally, nothing painful, just a reminder of where their attention should be focused. Well... Kyle and I do that and when we do there are times when Marley literally screams like we just beat the ever living day lights out of him. It's so embarrassing! Geez, he's such a wuss.

Friday, September 14, 2012

GOD IS BIG! we are small.

I just finished reading through the Psalms. I LOVED it. I have so many favorites for so many reasons: reading the Psalms reminded me to be GOD glorifying, they're also a reminder of God's steadfast love and faithfulness, and God's sovereignty. One piece that I hadn't really given a whole lot of thought to until I watched Louie Giglio's sermon titled, "Indescribable" was how BIG God really is and how small we are. As American's we tend to focus on ourselves, when our focus should be God centered. The Psalms reminded me that in my daily walk with Christ I need to be more GOD FOCUSED. After all, the depth of his knowledge and understanding is far, far, far beyond mine. If we look up into the sky, the understanding of how small we truly are, and how insignificant our lives are in the grand scheme of things, is a humbling experience that should put our life in the right perspective. So how BIG is God and how small are we? Well... according to the Psalmist…

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims is handiwork.” – Psalm 19:1

“My days are like an evening shadow, I wither away like grass. But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations.” – Psalm 102:11-12

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him… ?” – Psalm 8:3-4

"O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow." - Psalm 144:3-4

"How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand." - Psalm 139:17-18

"Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable." - Psalm 145: 3

"He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure." - Psalm 147:4

READ ALL OF Psalm 104! God is SOVEREIGN!

One little section of Louie Giglio’s sermon pretty much sums it up perfectly… “Believe it or not, we are not even in the center of our own subdivision. Affirming again tonight that it’s not about you and it’s not about me, we don’t even live in the center of our subdivision. You don’t want to live in the center of our subdivision because it’s scary in the center of the subdivision. Well, where do we live? Well we live way out between a couple of the spiral arms, you don’t want to live in there either because that’s dangerous territory inside the bands, we live in that little clear zone between a couple of bands about two-thirds of the way out. We live somewhere about there. You’re like, well, I don’t see me. No. Because we couldn’t put a mark on the diagram that you could see that would be the right relative size to our solar system, you know that’s our little cul-de-sac in our subdivision, we couldn’t even put our solar system on here in relative size to our Milky Way galaxy for you to see. It’s that small inside the Milky Way galaxy. Scientists say that our solar system is the size of a quarter and the Milky Way galaxy is the size of the North American continent… we’re not that consequential in our own subdivision called the Milky Way galaxy. … my life is a tiny little blip on the radar of history, a vapor, infinitesimal little life. You say, ‘well, Louie, you’re making me feel small.’ No, I’m not trying to make you feel small; I’m trying to help you see that you are small!”

BUT, how well does He know us? How much does He Love us?

READ ALL OF Psalm 139!

“Your steadfast love, Oh Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!” – Psalm 36:5-10

“If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” – Psalm 94:17-19

“For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” – Psalm 100:5

"The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy." - Psalm 145

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever..." - Psalm 136:1-9

"The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The Lord has established his thrown in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all!" - Psalm 103:6-19

"Long before you decided what you were going to do with God, God decided what He was going to do with you. And that was to not give you what your sins deserved, but to give His son what your sins deserved, and to give you the gift of Himself and an invitation to live forever in a big, big story that is all about HIM. His grace and hope." - Louie Giglio

Isn't God amazing?

Here are the links to watch Louie Giglio's sermon online. It is absolutely, mind blowing! I highly, highly recommend it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What I Found Most Helpful While Prego

We live in an information ready world. We can "Google" anything and receive gobs and gobs of information on that topic, we can Facebook a close friend and get their opinion. We can use our cell phones to call mom and get her advice on something right away. We can download an encyclopedia app, buy books, and read magazines all geared to give you information on a desired topic. So how do you know which are most helpful? I was wondering the same thing, so I asked my doctor, "Can I trust this..?" I also asked other mom's who have been there - my mom and sister have been bombarded with phone calls. I'm sure a few women in our church are asking why they ever went out of their way to tell me, "If you need anything, ask." Ha. Do I ever.

The last thing I wanted to do was to go into pregnancy or motherhood feeling clueless. The fact of the matter is, that even after educating myself, I still feel that way. I ask myself, "Do I really know what I'm getting myself into?" "Am I really prepared for what's ahead?" And all this "education" has left me feeling a tad dizzy. It's overwhelming and fascinating!

One reason for starting this blog was to share! So this time, I'm sharing what I found to be most helpful in preparation for our baby.

  • What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
  • The Complete Book of Breastfeeding by Marvin S. Eiger, M.D. & Sally Wendkos Olds
  • Sheparding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
  • The Bible (If you want the best guide on how to raise your child, read it! Start with Proverbs, it was written by a father [Solomon] giving his son wisdom on how to live a godly life.)I have 4 other books and a magazines GALORE that were given to me, but I found these most helpful by far.
Websites: (Cause if you're like me you need to know if something is "normal" before you call the doctor for the umpteenth time, which, if you use your resources you'll also be like me and only call them once during your entire pregnancy - if you're blessed with a "normal" pregnancy.)
Other Mothers
To me, this was the most helpful. After posting something here I'd receive helpful information from my friends, family members, and from other mom's who were already doing what I said I was going to try. I received reuseable diapers, learned how to fold them, upkeep them, and use them properly. I learned that other mom's were doing natural births (very encouraging), I learned other mom's made their baby food, and there were tons of mom's out there trying to be more frugal. I learned what to take and what not to take to the hospital. What I really need and don't really need in the nursery. I got so many ideas and helpful information from YOU. So thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!

I love the workouts posted here designed to build strength, which is what you NEED in order to endure the intensity of labor for a long period of time. However, I either refused to or could not do some of the workouts posted. When I walk, for example, I get Braxton Hicks contractions the entire time. So my doctor encouraged me to continue walking and exercising, but to also give myself rest making sure that they actually subsided. So I refused to jump or run, plus with all that jiggling around the baby did, it became uncomfortable! So I improvised, trying to work the same muscle groups as advertised for the same amount of time or rounds (if it was easier, I increased the time or rounds).

The other day, I couldn't do the posted workout because I don't have access to a swimming pool or row machine. Plus, my hubby and I share the bar and we didn't have time to switch weights back and forth or take turns working out. So I did this:
  • 7 Push-Ups
  • 15 Squats (I just used a 25 lb plate because that's what we have...)
  • 30 Step Ups
  • As many rounds as I could get in 15 minutes. I really, really try to focus on my breathing - in through my nose, out through my mouth - as I counted reps. Great practice for labor. :)
These were some of my staple warm up exercises: (Warming up is vital! You're preparing your muscles to work hard, decreasing injury, increasing output. By working up a slight sweat so your muscles are ready to do what your going to ask them to do you'll be less sore because of it, especially if you stretch afterwards and drink lots and lots of fluids before, during, and after exercise. As a track coach I do NOT recommend static stretching for warm ups. Think about it, if you sit down to stretch your quads, hammy's, arms, etc. are you preparing your muscles for action? Save static stretching for AFTER your workout. ACTIVELY work and stretch your muscles. Here's a few of my favs:)

Plank - hold it for 1 minute 3 times - great core exercise for prego people.
Haha, I googled images to give you an idea of what the heck I was talking about and couldn't resist this picture:

Be like a dog about to pee on a fire hydrant, hence the name: Fire Hydrant! :) Lift your leg up and down, keeping your knee bent. Repeat 10-25 times per day with both legs. You'll really feel it in your hips.
Variation of Fire Hydrant, just extend your leg out. I don't always bring my arm forward. I'll do this the same amount of reps as the Fire Hydrant with both legs, you'll feel it in your butt.
Another variation of Fire Hydrant, keeping your knee bent, bringing your leg to your belly and extending it to the ceiling. You'll feel it in your buttocks as well as your hammy's. (Same reps, both legs)
Lunges - 10-15 both legs.
My track kids loved this one, probably because it looks very... sexual..., and although I feel a tad goofy doing it, it helps so much! You literally just rotate your hips in a circular motion feeling the stretch through your core, back, and hips as you rotate. Do this clockwise and counter clockwise.
P.S. Do this with your neck as well. Neck Rotations are amazing and relieve a lot of stress. Do them clockwise and counter clockwise as well. (I hope an explanation is good enough here and that I don't need to find a picture, haha.)

I have to laugh because this one got more and more difficult the bigger I got, but it's a great hammy stretch. Your basically keeping your leg extended and kicking to hit your hand. Do this about 10 times each leg.
I love this one because you're giving yourself a hug while stretching shoulders, arms, and upper back. Remember that your in motion, so extend your arms, hug yourself, extend your arms, hug, extend, hug, etc.
Lastly, Toe Pops. These were my absolute favorites in track. You literally "POP" from the balls of your feet to your toes as you walk (Stay off your heels). It's great for calves and ankles.

I'm sitting here going through my muscles to make sure I haven't forgotten anything (During track warm ups I'd start singing "Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes..." to my high schoolers... they were masters at rolling their eyes at me.):
  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Upper back
  • Lower Back
  • Chest
  • Core
  • Butt
  • Hips
  • Hammy
  • Inner thighs
  • Quad
  • Calves
  • Ankles
Um, I think I covered everything... I have tons of different warm ups for each and we'd rotate through them in practice, but during my own workout I like those I just gave you.

This was something I do every day and I can't imagine how sore I'd be if I didn't. The aches and pains your muscles endure as they are stretched to their limit, or prepare for labor, are exhausting! There were days I woke up feeling like I got ran over by the dump truck a couple times. Again, I'll share my favs: (Think of the same muscle groups listed above...)

I can't remember, for the life of me, what this one is called, but thankfully it popped up in the google images when I typed in "yoga for shoulders". It is by far the best stretch I have ever experienced for my upper back/shoulders. This is how it works: Extend your arm like you're going to shake someone's hand. Bring your other arm around it (elbow to elbow), and touch plams as you bend your elbows. As you exhale, bring your elbows to the ceiling, increasing your stretch. AMAZING.
Cat Cow stretches your core and back muscles. This one was my fav for my sore ribs.
Butterfly Stretch for your inner thighs. Increase the stretch by leaning forward, as much as your belly will let you. :)

Next, I sit cross legged and extend my hands as far in front of me as I can, placing them on the floor. With each exhale I slowly "crawl" as far forward as I can. Switch which foot you have in front. This is a great stretch for your hips, butt and lower back.

After this I stay cross legged and do a side stretch, I think I'm in heaven when I stretch my right side simply because that's where she likes to stick her little foot or  butt most often as she stretches, making mommy super sore.

Cradle is an excellent stretch for your hips and butt (it's a great one to do before working out as well) because your literally cradeling your foot in the nook of your arm, and rocking side to side. Pretend your toes are the head of your baby, lol. Do this with both legs.
 I go right from Cradle to my hammy stretch where I extend my leg (like shown) and touch my toes.

I call this one Quad Wall Stretch and it's rather intense. There's time's where I can't bring myself past stage 2 and that's ok.
I googled "partner hammy stretch" and this was the best picture I found to illustrate what Kyle and I do after every workout. Keep your knee unbent, bring your leg as close to you as you can stand, push against your partner for 10 seconds, to extend the stretch to your calves have your partner pull down on your toes. After ten seconds, relax your leg, bend your knee, and allow your partner to "pump" your leg - sending it straight out in front of you and then pushing your knee into your chest, extend out, push in, etc. about 2 or 3 times. I'm always reminded of "Dumb and Dumbers" CPR in the restaurant when I do this, except it's one leg at a time, hahaha. Do this up to 3 times for each leg.

Haha,l I actually remembered the name to this stretch: seated glute stretch. It's amazing for your butt, aka glute.
Everything is connected to everything, so when you stretch be sure to target all the muscles (think of all your muscles from neck to toe, even if you don't know what they're called).

The thing about the warm ups, exercise, and stretching, I did them before I was pregnant and I contribute the health of my lower back to doing these things. I had a back injury in college and it kept reoccuring until I incorporated these things into my life almost everyday. It's worth it. I promise.

I'm the type of person that needs to know a little about something before diving into it. Well, we didn't really do that before getting pregnant, lol. Thankfully, we have a few months to prepare for our bundle of joy and educate ourselves on discipline strategies, products to buy, labor and delivery, breastfeeding, etc. etc. I highly recommend learning about pregnancy and motherhood before giving birth. Why? Well... remember that mother's have been doing this for thousands of years before us! Some information you'll throw away, some you'll keep tucked away, either way, I don't recommend "learning as you go" (which you will already do) but go in -sorta- prepared, knowing you know something, or with good questions to ask on the important stuff like, "What are some strategies that worked for you when your 2 year old threw a temper tantrum in the middle of Wal-Mart?" (Read Sheparding a Child's Heart or ask a mom who's been there, done that) or "If my baby doesn't take to nursing right away, what do I do?" (Read The Complete Book of Breastfeeding) etc. etc. The more you know, the more you don't know (sorry), but at least you'll know something, which is better than nothing. Hope that made sense. And you'll go in scared, but less scared about the changes up ahead. I'd take less scared over scared, scared any day!

This all reminds me of my first year of teaching. I felt like Doane College prepared it's teachers, however, there's some things you just have to learn as you go and I believe parenting is one of them. You shouldn't go in clueless, there's so much information out there - take some initiative and learn it! BUT expect tons of ah-ha, light bulb, or just plain "duh" moments as you go through it. I can't wait for the journey ahead! I'm nervous and excited all at once. I feel prepared to take on anything and if I'm feeling overwhelmed (ahem, I mean when I'm feeling overwhelmed) I know I have tons of other mothers and resources full of wonderful advice.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Students Success at School Depends A LOT on Parents

I get the Better Homes and Gardens magazine every month and was pleasantly surprised to see an article titled, "Class Rules for Parents" by Denise Schipani. The article discussed the importance of being involved with your students education as they grow older, but how being a helicopter mom (one who hovers) does more harm than good.
"According to a 1992 study published by the Educational Testing Service, factors that parents can control -- namely, preventing absenteeism, providing a variety of reading materials at home, and limiting television watching -- accounted for nearly 90 percent of the difference in eighth-grade mathematics test scores. The message is clear: What goes on at home has a major impact on how children perform at school." (Get Involved in Your Child's Education)
Despite this fact, too much can be, too much. Schipani states that "... the right kind of involvement is key." I couldn't agree more. The last five years I've been teaching junior high and high school students and I've seen them all. (Them = Parents) The helicopter mom's who wanted to know where their student was going to be and when and why and who else was going to be there and why an assignment was assigned, or why this was graded this way, or why do teachers do it this way and not that... and believe me, I could go on and on and on. You talk about mastering the eye roll every time you get a message from one of these. But you have the other extreme - parents who want nothing to do with their child's education or discipline. What happens at school is for the teachers and administration to deal with, what happens at home, stays at home, the two do not mesh. Usually, in this case there's not a lot of involvement in the students life at home either. Finding that middle ground is difficult and tricky. Thankfully the article Get Involved in Your Child's Education on the Better Homes and Gardens Website offers some helpful tips.

"Class Rules for Parents" by Denis Schipani also offers great tips as well (I just added some details from a teachers perspective):
  • Ask questions early. That means going to the open house and asking what your child might need for the class, find out if the teacher as a syllabus, a grading policy, discipline policy, etc. Nine times out of ten the principle requires that the teachers have this paper work and if they are prepared they will be happy to offer these to you and USUALLY they are given to your student the first week of school. (At least, I made sure the students had that information and brought back a signed copy to mom and dad.)
  • Mediate from a distance. I love this one because Schipani advises that even if there are problems with a teacher from the beginning you may not need to get involved immediately. Offer some suggestions to your student on how to handle the problem on their own. You are trying to raise an independent young adult who needs to start fending for themselves. If this doesn't work and problems still exist. Call the teacher, you may be surprised there were missing pieces from the story you were getting at home. :)
  • Don't play the blame game. Same as above. Call the teacher, because the disciplinary action taken by the teacher may have been necessary. Discuss the event with the teacher, tell the teacher what you were told, and see what the teacher says. Usually, when parents called to discuss the matter with me and began the conversation that way, I'd say something like, "Hmmm. Well, certain details were left out in the story you were told. Let me explain."
  • Know how to get in touch - and how not to. For me I was easiest to call or email. My planning period was at the end of the day and the pile of paperwork and the long list of "to do" items grew rather heftily by this time. Plus, as a coach this is when I spent much of my time preparing for practice that would follow. I was easiest to contact by leaving a detailed message and waiting for me to return the message in the evening hours. Find out what works best for your teacher and try not to bother them too much. Involved teachers do not have a 40 hour week like most believe.
  • Accept cause and effect. Ugh. So agree with this one. There were certain consequences that came in to play for behaving a certain way and parents were ALWAYS trying to come up with stupid excuses for their student or wanting special treatment for their bundle of joy. Nope. My response? "If you refer to my discipline and grading policy on the syllabus given to you at the beginning of the year, that you signed, I said that if this happens, this will be the consequence." I never apologized for it either. Schipani advises that the best thing you can do to help your student is find out what went wrong and make a plan on how to prevent it from happening again. The best quote in the article is from Marcia Tate who wrote Preparing Children for Success in School and Life, "Getting good grades is one thing, even better is earning them." Couldn't agree more.
These strategies are life skills. You won't always be there to smooth things over when something goes wrong for your child at work or in their marriage, etc. etc. Get involved, but give them some problem solving skills so they do not fail at LIFE.