Category: Parenting

37 Weeks!! …………………………………….Postpartum

37 Weeks!

That’s right, if I were pregnant, I’d like to think my baby would be knocking down my uterus door but she wouldn’t be and I’m not. My baby would probably want to hang out for another month in my apparently very comfortable uterus. And while I may not be 37 weeks pregnant, I am 37 weeks postpartum. Check out my baby bump.

37 weeks postpartum

 

My Baby Bump

It’s true. There is no actual baby inside of it. But it’s still a baby bump because it was home to two babies at different points. It stretched and ballooned up, and like a balloon, it just didn’t return to it’s pre-blown up state.

Balloon Blown up and released and new

I didn’t pop. The air, or baby and all of the gory, juicy things that came with it, went out of me. And what was left was my used balloon. I blew it up again. My mom blew hers up 5 times. I have a friend who’s mom blew it up 18 times. Each time, the balloon sustained some wear and tear, but weren’t the prizes worth the slightly damaged shell?

My Badge of Honor

I am still trying to lose weight and get in shape. I want to be healthy so, I’m eating healthier and working out. But even with all of my efforts to change, I don’t think I will ever go back to the pre-blown up balloon. My skin might be a little looser, I may not be able to jump on a trampoline and I can probably write off modeling as a future career option.

my little creations

But look what I helped to create! My body sacrificed and I paid the price to have these beautiful little humans in our family. I never want to go back to the pre-blown up balloon, because that me-balloon hadn’t experienced the strongest love that can only be brought about by the greatest sacrifice.

I am 37 weeks postpartum and my heart has never been more full.

37 weeks postpartum with my two babies
Grayson looks angry, but he is really just extremely focused on splashing.

 

Read my son’s birth story for a riveting tale of endurance, or my daughter’s birth story for an adventure of even more endurance.

God’s Love & Parent’s Love – Finding it

God’s Love

It’s usually a small thing. Sometimes I barely notice the trigger. But usually at some point throughout the busy, hectic, stressful, frustrating, fun, crazy day I have a moment where I remember just how deeply I love my children. It might be Siena volunteering to snuggle with me. Or my son, Grayson raising his arms as far as he can and looking at me as if I am supposed to know what he wants. I do. He wants me to pick him up. And if I take a moment and contemplate on my love, I am always left with a small impression of how great God’s love must be for His children.

The Deepest Love

I can’t even begin to fathom how anyone could love their children more than I love mine. And I don’t say that in an arrogant way. It’s more, I really cannot comprehend of a deeper love. My husband and I love each other. But I think that love is more built rather than instinctual. Loving your child has to be some sort of biological necessity, because even after the tantrums, the headaches you get, the sleepless nights, the bitten fingers and stressful talks, you are still hopelessly in love with your babies.

Deeper than My Deepest

Then to learn that God’s love is more than we can comprehend, is literally beyond comprehension. Now I know what it feels like to love someone so much it hurts. And I can’t imagine someone having that kind of love for me. I can’t fathom that.

God's love greater than a mother's love

God’s Love

At times I haven’t always believed that it is real. I have struggled and prayed to feel His love and been left with an empty feeling. Fear clutched at me as I thought that perhaps He didn’t love me. I kept praying. It has taken a long time. But in case you are feeling the way I have felt, I did receive an answer.

How I Know

It wasn’t a booming, in your face, heart warming expression of love. I kept waiting for something unmistakable. If he wanted me to know of His love, isn’t that how it would come? There would be no denying an answer to a prayer like that. Or so I thought.

As I’ve gotten older though, I learned that I can’t always trust the experiences that seem so crazy out of the ordinary. Because the further away I get from it, I question my own memory. It seemed real at the time, but it doesn’t always after coming back down to reality.

Instead my answer has been a constant flow of reassurance. I study my scriptures, I tell Him my doubts, my concerns and my emotions. And in response, He guides me to the correct answers. He helps me solve my problems. He listens to me even when I’m screaming at Him in my prayers. And after I have calmed down, He shows me the truth. God doesn’t tell me He loves me; He shows me.

God Doesn’t Tell Me He Loves Me; He Shows Me

God’s love is a parent’s love. Sometimes expressions or declarations of ‘I love you’ fall on deaf ears. Children forget. And after being a child and a parent, I know that as a child, you can never comprehend the love of your parents until you are one.

I don’t remember one time hearing ‘I love you’ that had a profound influence on me from my parents.

God and parents impress their love upon their children by teaching, guiding, correcting, and showing you the way to be happy. That’s what God does for me. That’s what my parents did and still do for me. So, that’s what I hope to do for my children.

God's love evident in our family

Keeping Your Toddler in Bed – The SECRET!!!

Keeping your toddler in bed is no easy feat. I am no expert. In fact, as I sit here and type this out, I am literally sitting in my daughter’s room waiting for sleep to overcome her while she repeatedly asks me, “wha-doin’?” I have been doing bedtime battles since we moved the baby monitor out of her room. Unfortunately, baby brother needed more monitoring for safety reasons and now Siena thinks she rules the roost.

 

But, WE FIGURED IT OUT! I mean, I hesitate to even say such a thing, for fear of jinxing ourselves, but I really think we know how keeping your toddler in bed can be the easiest thing ever.

*You should know… this worked for about a month.

Our First Mistake

Our bedtime battles began when we thought, “we must be genius parents. We’re going to transition our daughter into a twin bed at the age of 18 months. That way we don’t have to pay for a toddler bed and our son can have the crib.”

Well, we ended up buying another crib anyways, because Siena’s was a piece of junk. Needless to say, she was a big girl now in a big bed.

And for the first 6 months, this was working out great. Not a problem at all. In fact, we still would pat ourselves on the back every now and again. “Geniuses I say!!”

Our Second Mistake

At some point, Grayson finally transitioned to his own room. Along with Grayson into his room went the video baby monitor. We loved the monitor for Siena and now that she was a big girl, we could use it for Grayson.

She had other plans. We underestimated her intelligence. She was very quickly aware that the monitor was gone and now we did not have eyes on her at all times. Within a matter of days, she was getting out of bed constantly, repeatedly, every night without fail.

 

Our First Attempt

Keeping your toddler in bed with threats perhaps? We decided to take away some of the toys that she insisted sleeping with every time she got out of bed. It worked for a couple of months. Again, we patted ourselves on the back. GENIUSES!

Of course there was always tears when we would take the toys away, but then that was the consequence, right?

Unfortunately, she must have started emotionally detaching herself from her stuffed animals. Inside of her little toddler brain, she must have been smart enough to realize, ‘if I don’t care about my baby, or the animals or my blankie, my parents have no power over me anymore’.

I would not have believed that such advanced rationale was possible for a toddler, until she really stopped caring about her toys. We’d take one away and she’d get right back up again. We could strip her whole room of happiness (we did on many occasions) and she would still get out of bed until we wanted to throw our own heads against the wall in frustration.

Something had stopped working.

Our Second Attempt

Maybe a combination of bribery and a threat to keeping your toddler in bed? Perhaps she needs some incentive?

Our next tactic was to tell her we would be doing something fun the next day and if she got out of bed we wouldn’t be able to do it. But if she stayed in bed, we would.

We thought we were geniuses with this one, until we tried it. She didn’t care at all. She acted like she cared when we told her but two minutes later she was up and at it again.

Broken

I didn’t know what to do at this point. Our toddler had broken us. We were pathetic shells of parents who had been defeated by a two and a half year old. We would just let her play in her room until she collapsed and then deal with the collateral the next day.

Obviously my husband liked this idea because he got to leave in the morning and I handled the aftermath.

It was at this rock bottom of keeping your toddler in bed battle that I had my breakthrough. And maybe not all toddlers are alike, and maybe this won’t work for all, but I thought, just maybe… this will work for Siena.

 

The Secret to Keeping Your Toddler in Bed

I tried putting myself in Siena’s shoes. If I kept getting out of bed again and again and again, there had to be a reason, right?

keeping your toddler in bed when they have a twin

 

The Problem

Then I realized how frustrating and depressing it would be to constantly be in trouble at bed time. At the beginning, toddler is not in trouble, but she is probably sad because she has to stop playing with mom and dad.

If your family is like ours, dad just got home from work not too long ago and now he gets to stay up with mommy.

So, what does she do? She gets out of bed. Playing sounds way more fun then sleeping at this point. Unfortunately, as she is getting out of bed, or playing in her room Mom and dad are upset and scolding her. She still wants to play, but now maybe she wants some validation too. The need to feel love is compounded with the want to play.

Suddenly it becomes this vicious cycle of mom and dad are getting more and more frustrated, toddler is feeling less and less love and no one is getting any sleep!

How to Fix it

I added a new phase to our bedtime routine. Prior to this discovery, the routine ended after prayers, lights out, kiss goodnight and toddler was safe in bed. But, the magical key to success for us was the first ten minutes after the toddler was in bed.

Step 1

Wait outside the door for about 30 seconds to a minute. It can be a little longer, but ideally you want things to be just the same as when you put them to bed.

Step 2

Open the door and peak in. Hopefully your toddler is still in bed. If they are, praise them for staying in bed. Ours usually sounds like this:

“Wow! Siena, you stayed in bed! Thank you so much for staying in your bed. You are so obedient and well behaved. I love you. Night-night, Sweetheart.”

If she did not stay in bed

“Uh-oh. You need to get back in bed. It’s time to go night-night.”

It is very important to catch your toddler IN bed. Even if keeping your toddler in bed was not successful for 30 seconds, wait another 30 seconds (or less, depending on your child), open the door again and try again. Do this until your child has done what you asked successfully for any length of time.

Step 3

After the first successful praising. Wait a little longer. We usually give it a couple of minutes and open the door again. Since we started doing this we have not had her get out of bed after the first praising. Every time, she has been laying in bed, sometimes playing, reading or just laying there. And we lay on the praise again.

“Wow! You are still in your bed. Thank you so much for staying in bed. You are so great! Night-night, Siena.”

Step 4

You are welcome to repeat step 3 if you are worried about the stickability of it. We’ve tried it up to 5 times and every time, she has been laying in bed.

keeping your toddler in bed until they fall asleep

Keeping Your Toddler in Bed

Maybe our child is an anomaly. Maybe this won’t work for you. But if keeping your toddler in bed is one of your battles, start where I started and try and put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself, why does he keep getting out of bed?

If this does work for your child, you can literally do it at any time. Sometimes we forget to show love or it’s the middle of the night and you are just now finding this article while you are in the throes of a bedtime battle. But, just give it a try. Show your child some encouragement.

After all, they are just learning these things. Maybe she really just knew what was a wrong thing to do, but didn’t know what was a right thing to do. This method also gives some clarity to what bedtime is all about.

 

Good luck Mamas!

When your child is just having a hard night…

When your toddler wakes up from bad dreams…

When your baby won’t sleep through the night…

Rough Night – Healing Your Child’s Soul

I sat on the uncomfortable rocking chair around 3 in the morning after the rough night. My son arched his back as if he couldn’t get comfortable. His head lifted away from my chest. Occasionally it would bounce back, and the cool tears on his face would wet my skin. After just a minute or two, the gas slipped up out of his stomach and his neck slowly relaxed as he rested his weary head on my chest. It got heavier and heavier and so did his eyelids.

rough night with an infant, mom cradling

After 4 hours of trying to help him, he finally succumbed to sleep, trapping me with 24 lbs of squishy baby weight. And in spite of my exhaustion, I sat unmoving and just held him. My cheek pressed against his fuzzy warm head. His breathing, remnants of sobs abandoned. My precious boy nuzzled against me. It was my reward for my toil, so I enjoyed every special second. Thirty minutes of quiet snuggles on a squeaky, unyielding rocker. I watched the shadows and breathed deeply. There aren’t many moments like this. It was just me and my boy.

At 3:30 in the morning I finally slipped between my sheets and my eyelids slammed shut.

My Rough Night

The Likely Cause

That day, we had gone to his six month appointment. We found out he was off the charts for weight and pretty big in all other growth aspects. And to top it off, he has got a giant head that comes from my side of the family. If you ever wonder why some hats are so big, it’s for people like me and my son.

grayson at the doctor, cause of the rough night

He got two shots. I didn’t think anything of it. With his first couple of rounds he had been fussy, but nothing I couldn’t handle. My daughter had never had many ill effects from the shots.

I put him to bed around 7 just like any other night. He fussed a little more before he fell asleep, but soon he was breathing out Zs.

 

I just had to…

As a matter of safety, I usually take the sound machine out of his room at night after the loud noises in the house have disappeared. He has a bad habit of putting a blanket on top of his face and if I’m asleep and he’s having a hard time breathing, I want to be able to hear immediately.

beginning of the rough night, he wakes up

My daughter was in bed, my company had left and I was about to sleep as well. So, like every night, I snuck into his room and took it out. Usually he moves and then goes right back to sleep.

On this particular rough night, he moved and then woke up.

Quick Fix

All right, this wouldn’t be a problem. I’d just give him a bottle, top him off for the night and that way I made sure we all got a good night sleep.

He drank about half of it and I thought that he probably wasn’t hungry because he’s been sleeping through the night for a couple of days now.

 

The 4 Hours

The rest of the four hours that made up my rough night are a little hazy. It all blurs together now. I know that some things happened during that time. Here is a list of all courses of action in no particular order:

  • Gave him Tylenol.
  • Rocked him.
  • Held him.
  • Sang “I am a child of God”
  • Left his room about 15 times.
  • Entered his room about 15 times.
  • Sang “I like to look for Rainbows”
  • Sat on the floor by his crib and held his hand while he tried to settle down.

  • Let him play with my face.
  • Sat on the couch and the living room while he looked at the lights.
  • Let him lay in mommy’s bed. (Austin was out of town.)
  • Burped him. And again and again and again. So many burps.
  • So much spit up.
  • Bottle attempts 1, 2 and 3.
  • Wrapped him in a semi-swaddle

  • Pacifier.
  • Reached under the bed for all of the pacifiers he had chucked by the wall.
  • Wiped his tears.
  • Gave him Ibuprofen.
  • Caressed his head.
  • Tried to let him ‘cry it out’. (I can only last about 15 minutes at the most.)
  • Bounced him.
  • Sang “Down in the River” over and over and over again.
  • Prayed for any possible relief about every 10 minutes.

There might be more. I don’t know. It was a rough night.

 

The Unexpected Reward

I know I am not alone in the ‘rough night’ department. Most parents get to experience this joy at some point or another. Most of the time, you are only rewarded with an hour or two of much needed sleep.

But sometimes, the world stands still and all is quiet as your little one finally falls asleep in your arms. The whimpers subside and you get a small glimpse at how much your baby must love you. His face is pressed against you, cheek smashed against your skin. The deeper he falls into sleep, the more his breathing levels out.

Only you could heal his whole soul. Not only have you labored to help his little body feel better, but you also kept his spirit full. He knows that you are there for him and that you love him and have taken the time to understand him.

You heal his whole soul regardless of whether or not he falls asleep on you. But if you are lucky enough to feel your trusting little one nuzzle in, you can take the time to pat yourself on the back. Because you did it. Even if it took you until 3 or 6 in the morning, you did it. You healed your baby’s soul.

 

More Rough Nights to Come

So I hope I can remember when I have another rough night and many more, that every time I choose their needs over mine I heal their soul. I heal their physical hurts and I show them for the rest of their life, that they are worth me climbing out of my bed.

And in the quiet moments when I have evidence in my arms of how much my children appreciate it, I hope I can remember that I am doing okay. I healed my baby’s soul and I think I healed mine too.

 

I’ve had many a rough night with my toddler too.

Baby Girl Birth Story – My Sweet, Bright Eyed Siena

Having a baby girl is hard enough. As a new mom, you have to worry about the last trimester, the delivery, after the baby is born and everything else that goes into having a baby.

However, throw in ‘move across the world’ and you have a whole new mess of problems to add to the list of ‘Things to Solve’.

 

Uterus Urgency

Austin got his masters at Duke University. We loved being in North Carolina, and the second half of his program was in Kunshan, China. Well, I was due to have a baby just 5 weeks before we were supposed to be leaving. Yep. You could have called us insane and you would have been correct. We didn’t even know how insane we were.

waiting in waiting room
When we first arrived in the waiting room.

We naively thought, “what perfect timing!” We’ll have the baby in December and then hop on a plane in January. However, aside from other aspects of our naivety, like being first time parents, we failed to realize that we wouldn’t be able to get her passport, visa or plane tickets until she was actually born.

Austin had to be in school in China on a certain day and as her due date approached we realized the timing might not be so ideal after all. We started panicking. It takes 6 weeks to get a passport… We have to get the Visa after that… So, there isn’t enough time. Fortunately there is an expediting option, which almost wasn’t fast enough.

The Study

Then, a tender mercy. Duke University happened to be doing a research study where they would induce your labor at 39 weeks. The purpose of the study was to determine if delivering at 39 weeks was actually more beneficial for both the baby and the mom. After 39 weeks the baby is fully developed, and history seemed to suggest that the mom’s health would decline after 39 weeks.

Unfortunately there was no way to guarantee we would be in the induction group. Because the study needed a control group, only 50% of the women in the study would be induced. But we decided to try our luck with the lottery. And another miracle, we were selected to be a part of the induction group. Hooray! Our induction was scheduled for December 9th.

 

No Surprises

Because we had a set day, it was very easy now for both of our moms to fly out to see the birth.

me and my sweet moms
I love our moms.

The ninth was a Tuesday so both of them flew in on Sunday. Austin took all of his finals on Monday and we were all set for our little girl to join us.

Tuesday morning I got up early and put on some make up, curled my hair: the works. I was in a rare situation where I could plan to look cute for semi-spontaneous event. Why would I not take advantage of such a thing? Obviously we were going to take pictures!

 

Excited Grandmas!

We arrived at the hospital at 7:15 in the morning and park in the parking garage (no valet parking if your birth is not an emergency…understandable). We took the elevator up to the tunnel, where Lori, Austin’s mom excitedly announced to the whole elevator. “I’m going to be a grandma today!”

The ladies on the elevator squealed with excitement. I smiled too. My baby girl would be here soon! Clearly I had no idea what was in store for me.

 

Waiting Room

We got to the maternity floor and were told to wait. So we waited… and we waited… and we waited…

waiting in waiting room
Growing a little impatient…

The thing about being induced, is it is not as exciting for everyone else. They can just put you on the back burner while all of the actual labors take precedence, which again, makes sense. My induction was scheduled for 8:00 am. We didn’t even get out of the waiting room until noon.

bored waiting in waiting room
BORED OUT OF MY MIND…

 

Waiting in the Delivery Room

Finally, it was my turn. Then the excitement rose again. All right baby girl, that was a long wait, but now… now we’re on our way.

get this induction going
It’s go time!

I donned my nice hospital get-up and the nurses came in and do their thing. Soon, Doctor Nieves came in. Yay! We finally get to know where I’m at and what the next steps are. So, he checks out how things are going. I’m dilated to a 2 and was like 80% effaced. And I’m thinking, ‘wow, 80%. I’m doing pretty good.’

last pic before baby girl is born
We’re both excited!

Then I found out he’s going to stick in a miso pill. Basically it is supposed to help get things going. So, he put in the pill and then we waited some more. The nurses tell us to get up and walk around to help get the labor going. We did. We walked and walked and walked.

walking to get baby girl out
I went through a lot of those waters.
through the fish tank walking around
We thought this giant fish tank was pretty cool.
talking with husband
Love of my Life

And then we started the “badger dance” (video to come). And pretty soon, we’re laughing and being silly until around 6:00 in the evening.

laughing with austin
He always makes me laugh.

At this point, Austin decided it would be funny if he laid on the bed. So, he laid there, my mom laid on the couch and his mom took the nice chair and I sat on the little fold out chair. We thought it would be funny to get our nurses reaction if I was on the hard chair and Austin had taken over the hospital bed. Well, it was also around this time that I could feel my labor actually start to kick in.

our funny joke
Our funny, funny, funny joke…

 

Labor Contractions

Now I was feeling contractions. At first they were just uncomfortable. And the nurse had said she would be back just a minute prior to our hilarious prank we were going to pull. So, we waited in those positions. And we waited… and we waited… She didn’t come back for about an hour.

And I was sitting on this hard chair and felt like I was dying a little more each minute that passed. Where on earth had the nurse disappeared to? Someone better be having a baby!

And by 7:00, she finally came through the door. We did get the reaction we wanted and caught it on video. But, by then, I was really feeling the contractions. She started checking on things. I tell her I want an epidural. I know… I’m a baby. The doctor came in and checked me out. I was dilated to a 3 and fully effaced. A 3?! That’s it! This is what a 3 feels like? But, my labor was in full swing. I was having regular contractions.

They let the anesthesiologist know that I am ready for an epidural and about an hour later, I get one. It was a little scary getting one, but the relief it provided was unparalleled. They had to readjust it a little bit because it was only working on one side at first. I’m glad I asked when I did, because the time from when you ask for an epidural to when you actually get one is quite awhile.

sleeping before baby girl is born

Water Breaking

After that, I felt great. In fact it was so great that it surprised me when I felt our baby girl kick rather violently and suddenly there was a gushing. Stuff was coming out!

I couldn’t stop it. It was a force that stopped for nothing. Once I thought the gushing was over, it gushed some more. My water broke. I was glad they didn’t have to break it for me. It was cool having it just happen.

That was exciting. Now we were all pumped up again! This happened around 10:00 pm.

 

Nausea

The epidural was still working, until I started feeling nauseous. Really nauseous. I woke up and couldn’t move from the bed, but I knew something will be coming up and out of me quickly.

I told Austin I have to throw up and was panicking because I had nothing to catch it with. BLEH… all over the left side of the bed and the floor. I looked over at Austin and he had a trashcan or something that I could have used if he had grabbed it ten seconds earlier.

I let the nurse know. She got me all cleaned up and then informed me they had drugs for that too. Really? Awesome! I did not want to spend the whole labor throwing up. I had done enough of that during my pregnancy. She warned me that it would make me sleepy. Double bonus! That meant I’d be able to sleep better.

 

No More Juice!

Not necessarily double bonus. Sometime in the early morning I woke up in agony. I could feel my contractions completely. We pushed the button for the nurse. I was pushing my pain button like nobody’s business trying to get more of the epidural juice into my body, but to no avail.

resting before baby girl

Thirty minutes later the anesthesiologist came in and said that the epidural had run out. He refills it and I am soon feeling much better again. Now despite the fact that I am sleepy, I am insistent on remembering to push the button, because I know I don’t want to feel that EVER again.

 

Mini Date

That night, Austin and I watched Pitch Perfect and Here Comes the Boom when I couldn’t sleep. It was fun just being with him. Our moms had gone to sleep upstairs somewhere. And we got to just hang out me and him before we got one more added to our family.

At some point, he had to help lift me up higher in the bed because my legs were completely useless and I had slipped and was very uncomfortable. And you would think that I could lift my body with my little arms, but my body was the biggest body it’s ever been. It was like trying to move a dead dinosaur.

 

Pushing Time!

Then around noon on the 10th, (yeah we thought we were going to have her on the 9th… laughable now) I was told that I was dilated to a 9 and we should get to start pushing soon. So exciting!

I was thinking, well, my mom’s whole labor with me lasted 5 hours and she only pushed for like half an hour. We’re going to meet our baby girl soon! So, the doctor, who is now a different doctor and for the life of me I can’t remember her name, starts getting things ready for the pushing part of the journey.

I started pushing around 12:45. The doctor told me that I could be pushing for anywhere between a half an hour to three hours. Three hours? I thought my baby girl would just come out. I started pushing and pushing and pushing.

It was so exhausting. I pushed and pushed and every time it felt like something incredible should be happening but I was seeing no fruits for my labors. I was so tired.

pushing out baby girl
You know that feeling when you want to cry, but even that is too much…

At some point the doctor said that I could take a break. I didn’t even know you could take a break in the middle of pushing. Wouldn’t baby girl suffocate in the birth canal? But then I remember that’s what the umbilical cord is for. And in retrospect, she probably hadn’t moved much at all. I wasn’t making a whole lot of progress.

 

Come on Baby Girl!

All right, it was time to start again. I pushed some more. Then I started feeling severe pain. *Contractions so intense that it felt like lightening zapping through my uterus and culminating right between my hips. Bearing down intensified the pain and then they wanted me to hold it there while the pain ripped through me.

I kept pushing my pain button but nothing was coming and nothing was helping. At some point, I accepted that the epidural was not going to help me through it. And then I also had to accept that the only way to get the baby out was to greet the pain instead of escape it. So, I focused on bearing down in a way that intensified the pain the most and those were the pushes that everyone shouted, “that’s such a good push!” “You’re doing so great!” “Keep doing them like that one.”

I did it again and again and again. And two and a half hours from the time we started pushing, at 3:19 pm, our little Siena was finally born. As soon as she was out, I remember collapsing on the bed with the most relief I think it is possible for the human body to experience.

baby girl brand new!

*I have since learned that they most likely turned off my epidural so that I could ‘feel the contractions’. NEVER AGAIN.

 

Scary Reality

We found out after she was born that her umbilical cord had been in a knot. If it would have tightened at all during the pregnancy, we could have lost our sweet baby girl. I am forever grateful that she was protected and watched over so that she could be in our family. She lights up our life.

 

Baby Girl, My Sweet Siena

My little baby girl was laid on my chest and I got to see her bright, big, beautiful eyes for the first time. At first she didn’t cry. She just looked around. She was so beautiful. I couldn’t believe she had been inside my body for the last nine months.

baby girl
Look how big her eyes are!
holding baby girl
I couldn’t believe my baby girl was already here… 30 hours later.

She had such long fingers, which as I held her I remembered them moving around by my hips when I was pregnant. She was chubbier than I thought she would be, especially at 39 weeks. But she came out at a healthy 8 lbs 8 oz and 19 inches long.

family pic with baby girl

looking at our creation

She weighed more than any of my mom’s kids had been. No wonder I had pushed for 2 1/2 hours! If I would’ve waited for her to come out on her own I might not have been able to push her out. I was really grateful that we had been a part of the study. A C-section could have really affected our trip out to China. So, grand total: 32 hours in the hospital, 20 hours of labor and 2 1/2 hours of pushing.

holding my baby girl

Me snuggling my baby girl

Afterthoughts

I remember being so tired, so shocked, so amazed, so out of it, and so grateful that it was all over. It was almost the feeling of, now what? I had been preparing to have a baby girl, but I wasn’t sure what to do with her now that I had her.

She was beautiful, but I didn’t know how to be a mom! I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I didn’t know how any of this was going to work. But it did.

I believe that Heavenly Father has been helping us throughout every step of the process. He loves His children and He would show me how to raise His child the right way, even though I am imperfect.

Cute Pictures Below:

first time daddy holding his baby girl
First time daddy holding his baby girl.
family pic with baby girl
Family Picture!
baby girl in daddy's arms
So cute in daddy’s arms
Grammy with baby girl
Grammy was in love with little Siena.
grandma with baby girl
Grandma loves Siena too!
cute baby girl
Look at her eyes!

baby girl

hearing test for baby girl
Hearing test
baby girl in daddy's Christmas stocking
Austin was born in December too and he was sent home from the hospital in this hospital, so obviously we had to put her in it and get a picture of her in his stocking. Our little December babies!
beautiful baby girl
This is seriously one of my favorite pictures of her.
first family picture with baby girl
Another Family Pic!

 

You can also check out my Son’s Birth Story.

It’s amazing how different they are!

Decorating Eggs for Easter with a Toddler & Baby

I wasn’t sure how decorating eggs would go. After all, Siena is only two years old and I was sure that Grayson would want to be involved, even though he couldn’t sit up all the way on his own yet. Imagine my surprise when decorating eggs turned out to be a blast!

decorating eggs
Don’t they look like they had fun?

 

Something’s Up

Grayson knew immediately from the living room that something was going on in the kitchen. As I was setting things up, Siena had joined me by sitting on her booster chair at the kitchen table. Grayson made loud grunts and yells from the living room as he strained to see what we were doing, so I had to quickly get him and let him join in the fun.

Ready for decorating eggs
Look how excited he is!

Decorating Eggs

We put Siena and Grayson at the end of the table so that everything was close and easily accessible. Then, I put some yogurt drops on Grayson’s tray so that he had something to do while the egg decorating began.

Grayson reaching for yogurt drops
Yogurt Drops!

Siena loved how the eggs changed colors.

decorating eggs and Siena holds up the first colored egg
“Wow!” This was the first egg that we colored.

She was excited to pick which colors she wanted us to dip the eggs into. We were happy to oblige. When they came out all colorful, she squealed with excitement and we got to let her sticker them up.

decorating the eggs with stickers
“Focused Face”

And if you can believe it, all 9 eggs survived! Not one cracked egg.

 

Giggle Fest

We got all of the eggs painted and then the real fun began.

He makes me laugh just as much as I make him laugh. He is SERIOUSLY the HAPPIEST baby in the world.

For some reason, I was the funniest person on the planet today to my son. He just kept laughing at me. And of course, my little girl was trying to copy me and get him to laugh too, so we got a video of his giggles and her sweet attempts to be like her mommy.

Daddy Time

decorating eggs with daddy

Even if it is something simple and silly, we love being able to spend time with daddy. Decorating Eggs may not be the most exciting thing for adults, but it was so much more fun with him. Siena loved showing off for her daddy and Grayson loved being a part of the whole family gathering.

 

Happy Easter!

We can’t wait until the Easter Bunny shows up tomorrow and to talk to our babies about the true meaning of Easter. Hopefully we can start to introduce what it means that Christ lived and died for us and and lived for us again.

More pics below!

I just had to include this adorable picture of my chubby cheeked boy!
Siena decorating eggs and poking her tongue out
My girl is just the coolest.

More Simple Things for Family Fun!

Fun Uncle Coco & Cool Aunt Nai – 10 Benefits to Having Family Visit

Everyone needs a fun uncle and cool aunt and we are happy to report that our kids have many. This last weekend we got to hang out with Austin’s brother (fun uncle) and his cute wife (cool aunt). It was their first time coming out here to Michigan and we loved having them.

fun uncle coco reading book to Siena

Siena and Grayson loved having some cool new friends. And after they visited, we have decided that a fun uncle and cool aunt are so great for our kids! In fact, I might even say they are necessary. So if you don’t have a candidate for cool aunt or fun uncle, they don’t necessarily have to be blood related. Just make some!

 

Benefits of a Fun Uncle & Cool Aunt

1. Someone else to entertain the Littles

It didn’t take long for Siena to latch onto her fun uncle and fun aunt. She called Colton, “Coco” and Natalie was “Nai” (rhymes with spy). She loved climbing and playing with both of them. Grayson was thrilled to have someone else paying attention to him all of the time.

littles sitting on the couch

2. Someone Else to Reinforce Mom and Dad’s Rules besides Mom and Dad

As obedient as Siena is, sometimes it is so nice for her to see that even fun Uncle Coco and cool Aunt Nai aren’t eating in the living room either. (at least while Siena is awake…) It helps her learn that it’s not just boring Mom and Dad who make such rules.

And, for the record, she has been doing great with that rule since they left!

 

3. Fun Outings we wouldn’t have taken otherwise

We got to explore all over downtown Detroit! We could do that anyways, but having visitors always seems to motivate us to get out of the house. With visitors, we have to show off our great city! Siena and Grayson loved being taken all over in the stroller like big kids.

fun uncle and cool aunt in front of comerica park

We also finally got to eat at a restaurant we’ve been dying to try.

 

Grayson asleep at the restaurant after being out WAY past his nap time.

4. A Break from Changing Diapers

Cool Aunt Nai was so excited to be helping with the ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ stuff that this Mom and Dad got some much appreciated breaks. This time, I wasn’t the only one who got to experience soft serve poops while changing his diaper. I seriously think he likes to show off his bowel movements because he will only ever do it when someone is actually in the process of changing his diaper.

For the record, fun Uncle Coco was not cool with the Coco colored soft serve and stayed FAR FAR AWAY.

 

5. A Break from Constant Feedings

As much as I love to spoon feed my son and look into his eyes while I feed him a bottle, that kid can eat! Do you know how much time I spend shoveling food into him? I can’t keep up most days. So it was awesome being able to tag team with Cool Aunt Nai.

 

6. A Break from being the Focus of All Attention

Usually my kids want to be the center of my attention at all times. If I look at one, the other one gets upset. If I check my phone, suddenly I am the climbing gym. Eating is a rarity, going to the bathroom alone doesn’t really happen and sleeping uninterrupted for longer than 4 hours will probably never happen again.

Imagine my relief when I could play with one and the other one had another adult to play with. Fun Uncle Coco was the new climbing gym and I got a little bit of free time. Still not much sleep though… we were too busy talking after the kids went to bed.

 

7. Great Influence the Kiddos can Trust when they get Older

I can’t help but think about how great it will be to have other role models around. They will have so many aunts and uncles that can be exemplary examples when they are teenagers. Suddenly our opinion may not be worth as much as a fun uncle or a cool aunt’s.

fun uncle coco and cool aunt nai

 

8. Someone to Play Games with After Bedtime

Once the babes are in bed, we have the fun uncle and cool aunt all to ourselves. We get to play games with them and have adult conversations. It was so fun to kick back, relax and get to know Austin’s brother and sister-in-law better. We love our games and play them all the time. I included links to some of our favorites in case you need new ideas.

9. More Daddy Time!

Because Austin doesn’t want to miss out on all the fun, he takes time off of work and we get more daddy time! We got to go on all of these adventures with him. In fact after they left, Siena couldn’t understand why Dada had to work. She loved having him around more.

daddy time out and about

10. Pictures for a Lifetime

And every time family comes to visit, we get to take a bunch of pictures because they’re not around all of the time. So, we had a blast taking pictures of the babes, of all of us and having fun with the family. Now we’ll be able to remember it forever.

PICTURE OVERLOAD ALERT!

More photos from the rest of their trip:

Standing outside the Red Wings Game waiting to go inside and get out of the rain.

 

The Red Wings have a tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice during the Playoffs. They didn’t make the Playoffs this year, but it was one of the last games in the Joe Louis Arena, so we saw many Octopus carcasses splayed on the ice.
Great game to see with some great family!
Fun Uncle Coco & Cool Aunt Nai
Fun Uncle Coco & Cool Aunt Nai
We got to go to this fun game because our awesome friends watched our kids that night!
I love it when he grabs his toes!
fun uncle with dada on their devices
Sometimes they were real lively. Here I think they were both creating some roller coasters… the story of their trip.
Just have to include any cute pictures of them ever taken.
Our animals or theirs?
Fun at the Farm
She loves her ‘tows’! (cows)

To read about more fun at the farm when I took the kids by myself, click here.

Bad Dreams Become My Own Personal Horror Story & Sweetest Moment

First Bad Dreams

I haven’t had to worry too much about bad dreams yet so far. At one point, when Siena was an infant we thought maybe she had had a nightmare, because she woke up screaming and after we snuggled her for a little while, she fell right back asleep. But that was the only time we had suspected anything.

little girl sleeping
The one time we can’t ever protect them, in their dreams.

Now that she is getting a little more imaginative and descriptive in her vocabulary, we are finding that maybe she is having some bad dreams every now and then. But this is the first time we have ever confirmed that we have positively identified what has been going on.

 

Absolute Exhaustion

It was late at night. I was exhausted and I crawled into bed in a fog. I was asleep almost instantly, which never happens. My body felt like I weighed about twice as much as I actually do and sunk into my mattress like an anchor penetrates the ocean floor.

 

The Voice

At some point I woke up, thinking I had heard a voice. I rolled over to face the doorway and the empty room. Nothing was there. I must have dreamed it. Or maybe the cat had let out a ‘meow’ to let us know he was bored or hungry. I rolled back over and fell instantly asleep.

Cat in the dark before my toddler woke up with bad dreams

Then I heard the voice again. This time adrenaline started pumping through my blood. I had just barely checked and the room was empty. I rolled over halfway, terrified that I was going to find a person in my room, illuminated by the LED Night Lights scattered throughout the house.

Still no one.

 

toddler awake with bad dreams sitting in darkThe Person

I finished my rotation so that I was now facing the door and closed my eyes again.

“Mama?”

The pulsing, shrieking music from Psycho started echoing in my brain. My eyes searched the darkness and I finally located the source of the voice.

My toddler daughter sat criss-cross applesauce on the floor, next to our cat and was stroking him calmly while watching us sleep!

Yep. I don’t think I’ve ever been that close to peeing my pants out of fear before. (And in case you are wondering, I have peed my pants for other reasons. Different stories for different times.)

 

Bad Dreams

After regaining my composure and my racing blood rate I got up and took Siena back to her room. I wanted to tell her that it’s not okay to get out of bed, but instead had the impression that I needed to ask her a question instead.

talking with my daughter about her bad dreams“Why did you get out of bed, Siena?” I asked her.

She sat in her bed and pointed at something that wasn’t there. “Nigh-nigh… Rawr!” Her hands made little claws.

“Rawr?”

She pointed again and said, “Rawr!”

“Did you have some bad dreams? Did something scare you?”

She made her little ‘Mm’ noise that we have learned means yes.

“Okay. It’s not there anymore, sweet heart. It’s not real.”

“Rawr!” She made the claw gesture again.

Then I suddenly had a thought, or prompting. “Do you want to say a prayer so Heavenly Father can protect you?”

“Mm.”

And in one of my sweetest memories, we said a little prayer together that she wouldn’t have bad dreams anymore and that she would be able to get lots of sleep.

Tender Mercy

What a wonderful moment I got to have with my daughter at 3:00 in the morning. I’m so glad I didn’t just get mad and tell her to get back in bed. I would have never known that she had bad dreams. She would have still been scared and also felt like she couldn’t even talk to her parents about it.

It just took a quick thought when I took her to bed to ask her a question instead of telling her what I expected her to do. I’m so glad I listened to the little feeling I had.

with my sweet girl

This was so much better!

 

Once I did let my anger get the better of me when Siena kept getting out of bed. I felt much worse after that interaction.

 

Copycat Toddler – 7 Times When You Wish they hadn’t Seen

My daughter has reached an age that most mommies know well. If I tickle Grayson, Siena tickles Grayson. I blow on his belly. Siena blows on his belly. If I poke his nose, Siena pokes his nose. She’s my little copycat.

When we color, I could pick red and she will want red. If I choose a blue, guess who’s got blue too. She’ll copy what I say and mimic my actions. My little girl wants to be just like her mama.

posing with my little girl, my copycat

So, because I was sure I wasn’t the only one who has had such antics from their toddlers, I asked for some juicy copycat toddler stories from the mom experts I know. Here they are in their juicy glory.

I saved my daughter, my copycat for my embarrassment at the end. Enjoy!

 

Slam it, Dammit!

As a little girl being so attached to my Grandma, there was nothing she couldn’t do that wasn’t ok. Until one day as she was trying to shut the trunk of her car. For some reason it just wouldn’t catch and stay closed. After several attempts you could see she was frustrated and offered one word in anger at her trunk. “Dammit.” This was so not like her.

I, as a small child had never heard such a word.  But as she stood there trying to figure out just what was wrong with the trunk, she hadn’t realized her shadow, me. She looked down at me, completely embarrassed and I looked up to her and said, “slam it, dammit grandma” The look of horror came across her face as she looked down at me and processed the words that had just come out of her 3 year old granddaughter’s mouth. That day she was reminded to be careful of what you say as you never know who can hear you.

-Karen, One Helluva 3 year old & Homemaker

 

Choice Vocabulary

I am an incredibly clumsy human. When my oldest was about two and a half, I was making an effort to be less dramatic when I injured myself. So I would just say, “balls!” and move on.

One day I was getting her out of the tub and she stubbed her toe on the metal frame (I had an annoying sliding glass door in the bathtub). She sobbed out a tiny, sad, “Baaaaalls!”

I decided I needed to adjust my vocabulary from that point on.

-Liz, One Helluva Homemaker

 

Like Pregnant Mother, Like Son

When I was pregnant with my second son I had a lot of morning sickness.

So, since I was sick all the time, my first son would grab a mixing bowl and pretend he was throwing up just like his mommy! Ha!

-Gabriela, One Helluva Homemaker

 

Haircut Copycat

My mom used to watch my grandpa cut hair in his barber shop. One day a woman came in with a little girl. So while grandpa was cutting the woman’s hair, my mom, who was about 5 or 6 at the time, took the little girl in the back and gave her a haircut too.

barber shop of grandpa

So then, grandpa not only couldn’t charge the mom for the haircut, but he had to “fix” the little girls hair for free as well.

-Catherine, One Helluva Daughter & Homemaker

 

The Little Things

My kid says “shoot” every time something goes wrong.

He also loves doing the big frustrated sighs I do.

Oh and my grumpy faces. Oops!

-Gabi, One Helluva Homemaker

 

Five Little Fingers… or One

Let me tell you about a time I will never forget when my daughter was about three years old. We were pulling out from the Sears parking lot onto a busy 4 lane road. It was early spring, so there were still some patches of ice on the asphalt. I was also driving my parents car, a stick shift, and the clutch was different then mine.

So, I was hesitant to pull out in front of someone without plenty of room in case I stalled the car. The inpatient “gentleman” behind me had already honked his horn a few times at me. So my redheaded temper got the best of me when he did it again.

I extended my middle finger to show the “gentleman” my exact opinion of his honking.

Then I hear, “what does this mean?” from the back seat and see a little tiny hand displaying her middle finger for the “gentleman” too. I was so ashamed of myself. I laugh now, but I can say I never did that again while the kids were with me…and had to explain to her that that was an adult thing that meant ugly adult words.

-Tanya, One Helluva Homemaker

 

Holes is Holes

I have always had a hard time breastfeeding. I did with Siena and again with my son. So, my all time favorite invention has been the Nipple Shield, which literally saved my daughter’s life and made me feel like I could handle being a mom.

When Grayson was born, I used them again for as long as I could breastfeed. This was only for about four months.

Well, a couple of weeks ago (long after I have stopped breastfeeding), I was sitting on the couch with my husband and suddenly he points at Siena. I look, and she has the nipple shield on her belly button and her baby doll is apparently getting a drink… from my daughter’s belly button… through her mom’s nipple shield… Holes is holes, right?

my daughter, nursing her baby doll to copycat mama
She was very focused…

 

More Copycat stories and Mom Moments?

Have any fun copycat stories of your own? Please leave them in the comments below! I would love to hear more. Kids are so funny sometimes!

 

I seem to have a never ending supply of Mom Moments that make me want to cry, but will probably make you laugh.

Six Months Old – Letter to My Amazing Baby Boy

Dear Grayson,

Six months comes and goes and all I can think about is how lucky I am. You’re six months old! But I get to have you forever. You are my son always. And even though I didn’t get to hold you until 6 months ago, you’ve always been my son.

six months old okay, maybe he was only five
Okay, I’m a little biased, but I don’t think babies can get much cuter than this.

I’ve known you longer of course. I’ve known you for about a year and 3 months.

When you were inside of me, you were big and snug. You always let us know you were there and showed us how excited you were to come and join us. There was a time, shortly after you joined us, when I was afraid that you were going to leave us too soon.

Your First Ultrasound

The first time I tried to see you, the technician couldn’t find you. There was no heartbeat, just a uterus that looked pregnant. My doctor said that it was probably just too early to see.

I didn’t think much of it until your dad seemed a little concerned. I started doing research online, to see what could have caused that. The words “blighted ovum” occupied every web page I looked at. I was devastated, because I felt like you had been there.

Fear clutched me and I spent the night sobbing as I thought about the possibility of losing you. I knew you then.

With crippling anxiety, I called my doctor the next morning. She ran some tests to give me peace of mind and a week later, a little tiny collection of cells was visible on the monitor. There you were! Elation can’t begin to cover my emotions. For now, my baby boy was safe.

first ultrasound

Finding Out what I already Knew

We could find out as early as 12 weeks whether you were going to be a boy or a girl. We planned on doing the extra tests anyways, so we figured we might as well find out. Even before they told us though, I knew.

I got a phone call when your dad happened to be home. The nurse asked me if I wanted to know. I put her on speaker and told her, “Yes.”

“You’re having a baby boy.”

Baby BOY announcement!

Of course I started crying again. “I knew it,” was all I could say. You will come to learn that it doesn’t take much to get your Mama crying.

Waiting

I waited for you all summer. You weren’t supposed to be born until October, but with your size, we hoped you would come sooner. Your Mama got so huge!

Siena on my pregnant belly
It got harder and harder for Siena to sit on my lap.

And it seemed like you were going to stay in there as long as possible so we had to coax you out.

Finally Here

brand new baby snuggling with mommy
Snuggling with my newborn.

When I held you in my arms, it felt like you had always been a part of our family. It was like we didn’t know that we had been waiting for you, but we were, and now you were here.

 

Your sister was so excited to be with you. She loves taking care of you. You are her best friend, and I suspect that is how it will be forever. Thank you for coming to be with your sister.

Watching You Grow

As I have watched you grow, I have been even more impressed by how unique you are. At just six months old, I have witnessed so many differences between you and your sister. You both have your own distinct personalities and it is amazing to see.

first night home from the hospital
His first night home from the hospital. I was so excited about this outfit; this was probably the last time he fit in it.

You were “you” long before you joined us. You’ve been smiling since you were just one month old. Everyone told me it was just gas, but it wasn’t. You haven’t stopped smiling since then. Your happiness is infectious and your laugh makes everyone happier.

six months old with his 2 year old sister, they're basically the same size
They are pretty much the same size. He’s going to pass her up before long!

You love your Mama. It might embarrass you to know that you are a Mama’s boy through and through. You love me and I am so grateful that I have felt your love from the moment you were born. It is a rare gift to make someone feel loved just be looking at them. But, you have that gift Grayson.

What I Will Get to See

You are only six months old now. You are just starting to think about rolling over and you haven’t decided how you feel about solid food, but I can already see how much happiness you are going to bring to our family.

daddy holding our giant baby who is only six months old
Do you see how big he is?!

Cloudy days will never seem as gloomy. The darker nights will have a guiding light. You are going to bring so much joy to those around you.

I hope you remember forever, how special you are to me. You are amazing. And just by being born, you are going to make the world a better place.

Thank you!

Thank you for coming to be with us and thank you for being six months old so I can be a witness to who you really are. I hope you know how much we all love you and how happy we are that you are here.

Six Months Old and Counting

We can’t wait to see everything that you are going to become. One day, you will probably know the fear of losing a child, even if that child hasn’t been born yet. It seems like everything in the world can be perfectly fine and I still find myself terrified that you or your sister will be taken away from me. When you are holding your own little baby, you will understand the gratitude I feel that you are here now and that you are still getting older.

Grayson in a bow tie at six months old
Happy 6 months little man!

We love you Grayson! I love you and can’t wait to see what the next 80 years bring. (I probably won’t live past 107.)

Love,

Mom

 

More about Grayson:

Grayson’s Birth Story

How His Night Sleeping Has Been