Thursday, August 24, 2017

Best year ever.

A year ago today, I found out I was pregnant.

I had an in-service meeting at school, and in between our morning and afternoon sessions, we all went to Perkins for lunch. I stopped at CVS before going to lunch and bought a "Clear Blue" test, you know, the one that says "pregnant" for easy affirmation. The test from the day before was a cheapo one with the lines, and was hard to get a good reading.

I remember feeling really excited and weird during lunch.

During the morning session, our principal asked each teacher, "How was your Summer?" "How are you doing?" I really wanted to say, "I think I am pregnant!!" But of course kept calm and said we had a nice Summer working in the garden.

When I got home from school, I couldn't wait to take the test. The longest five minutes of your life is when you're waiting for the results. The word "pregnant" in dark gray letters showed up.

That following weekend, we were going camping at a bluegrass festival in New York. This was our fourth year going. It was a beautiful weekend. Walking around the campgrounds, I imagined what it would be like in subsequent years. We would have a little baby with us! What a strange and amazing thought!

Let's fast forward to today, to this year.

I am holding my sleeping little one, almost four months old.

My husband said this morning that the bluegrass festival is this weekend.
We won't be there. Cecilia is pretty little and my husband has farmer's markets on Friday and Saturday.

He said something else that totally threw me off guard. "It'll only be a few years more that we could go the the festival, since school starts the next Monday..."


Our little one is going up be in kindergarten in a few short years.

I don't think I can handle this.

Please  stay little.
Don't grow too fast.

What a year it has been.

I still catch myself thinking these two things:
"I'm 31 and I have a baby??"

I am in my 30s. That just sounds so old to me. Yes, I know it isn't old. Don't get all offended, please. Thinking about kids going off to college or even thinking about high school and the person I was. That seems like a lifetime ago. About twelve years since high school. Oh, goodness. Why did I have to do that math?

It's official. I am old.

A couple weeks ago, we went out on our first date night sans baby. We went to an Italian restaurant before going to a show, and I was really looking forward to a glass of wine. (I wouldn't have to breastfeed and I even wore a regular shirt!)The waitress didn't card me. Yep, I am old.

I guess Riesling is a more sophisticated beverage choice?

Thinking about the [obvious] fact I am a parent still boggles my mind. I have a little person to take care of. She is helpless. Long gone are the lazy mornings, sleeping in. Baby girl will wake me up and be hungry or need a diaper change. So long to the daily shower. (They are a hot commodity now.)

The positives outweigh it all.

The smiles she gives, the cuddles, her little hand holding tightly to my shirt as she nurses, seeing her grow and develop everyday.

Best year ever. <3

Saturday, August 12, 2017

is homesteading a fancy or a feeling?

I found myself standing at the counter shelling peas yesterday, wearing Cecilia in the ring sling since she was not wanting to nap anywhere else.

As I stood there, trying to catch my stride, breaking the stem, pulling the pea's string and opening the pod just right to slide my thumb down to finesse the peas into the Pyrex bowl, a pea shoots out and hits me and one falls on the floor.

My high school self wouldn't even know me.

It's hard to pin point when I started wanting to seek a more self-sustaining lifestyle. It has been a gradual process, of course. I think it started shortly after I got married. I began baking bread instead of buying it, and volunteered at an organic vegetable farm.

Fast forward seven years and I'm living on a farm, where we have chickens and my husband grows vegetables. It is a slippery slope, my friends.

It took me an hour and ten minutes to shell two gallon bags of peas. The thought that a bag of frozen peas cost $1.49 is insane. Also, insane that I am spending seventy minutes shelling peas, in addition to blanching and freezing them myself. (Of said peas, I only got eight cups of peas, equaling four quart bags of two cups each.) I'm a novice pea sheller, so give me a break. The third bag went a little faster.

My husband and I have been drawn to the homesteading idea for quite a while.

I'm not to the point where I'm weaving the fabric for our homemade clothes from the sheep in the backyard or milking the goats. (Milking goats is more attainable of a goal, but I secretly want sheep... the idea of spinning and dying yarn sounds so magical.)

With a little one in our lives now, I am more driven to keep farming and working the land in the forefront. I want her to know where her food comes from and what responsibility is.  Yes, my husband and I both have smart phones and we own a TV, but I hope that Cecilia chooses to chase barn cats and pick dandelion bouquets over watching a video on some screen.

Oh, but being a new Mama and trying to pick green beans and snow peas... it isn't easy. We have, what we call the "baby pod," that we put Cecilia in. It's a little screened in playpen with dangling toys to keep little ones entertained. I put the baby pod at the end of the garden bed and furiously pick in baskets until I hear her cry. Mostly it's because she's wiggled so much her body is perpendicular to where she was and her head is hitting the side of the pod. I did attempt to pick beans while holding her and, as you can imagine, it went amazingly slow.

The goal of most parents is to make a life for their children better than their own, but my husband and I both had really good childhoods. I remember swimming for hours in our pool and taking really long bike rides on back roads. (I also remember eating lots of Doritos and Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies and watching TRL everyday after school.)

Homesteading is a lesson of patience and hard work, among many other things.

Shelling peas wasn't something I had planned on doing... ever, but the seed company we order from accidently mixed their snap pea seeds with shelling peas. It was a lesson in slowing down and appreciating the time and energy required to enjoy the food. How often do we mindlessly eat, and just shovel food in our mouths because we're bored? Working for our food isn't necessary anymore and an office job doesn't allow us to.

I desire a slower, more intentional life.

I'm still going to want to go out for ice cream and ask for rainbow sprinkles.

I'm not perfect.

And I can guarantee that these peas will be saved for some really special occasions. <3

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Time is flying by

Wow. It has been well over a month since my last post. The days are just flying by. I was so fortunate last month to be able to see my friends from high school two weekends in a row! First weekend was for my baby shower and then for my friend's baby shower the following weekend.

The four of us, have kept in contact over the years and I am so blessed to have them in my life. Our friendship has now entered a new phase- Motherhood. It is amazing to see how we have changed as we have taken on this new role as Moms.

My friend told me that when her husband came home from work and asked her what she did that day, she said, "I have been busy all day, but I can't tell you what I did."

This is so true.

Being home with a baby keeps you busy, but how did the day go by so fast? Where did it go?

Having the responsibility of taking care of a little human is exhausting, but so fulfilling.

In my last post, I talked about balancing things out- tasks on my to-do list, both necessities and desires. I'm still working on that. I think I will be constantly be juggling everything and trying to find time to shower.

I still haven't sewn a dress for Cecilia and I have, unfortunately, missed the window of opportunity. (The dress won't fit her now.)

I have done some other creative projects recently. They have been enjoyable to work on, but it has been more of a challenge since it requires much more time to complete anything.

I crocheted a panda bear for my friend who is having a baby at the end of the month,

I sewed a dress for my friend's baby who just turned one,

and crocheted a cute ski hat for another friend who just had a little one in June.

I am slowly knitting a hat for Cecilia. By this rate it should be done by the time snow flies. I just haven't had the time to sit and work on it. Or if I do have the time, I'm either catching up on dishes, laundry or sitting on the couch trying to catch my breath.

I feel like time is flying by. It's hard to believe it has been three months since my little girl's memorable debut.

Let the adventure continue. <3

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Balancing act

I used to do a lot of things, like sew, crochet, sleep, shower...

Am I sad about it? Not really.

Priorities have been all switched up.

Parenting is a balancing act. Trying to accomplish everything on the to-do list isn't so much a top priority when you have a newborn. I mean, yes, I still do our laundry and vacuum. I haven't given up basic responsibilities, but I don't get upset when I can't get to a task right away.

Since we didn't know Cecilia was going to be a girl, I didn't make any cute girly things for her. I started making a Pinterest board of baby things to make before I was even pregnant. (I did crochet a cardigan, but my gauge was way off and so it won't fit her until she's in preschool. And I crocheted a pair of baby loafers and booties- gender neutral, just to be safe.)  I borrowed a dress pattern from my mother-in-law and have had the pieces cut out for about... two weeks. Good night. It's not even a hard pattern. I've made it a couple times already for friends' babies. When I get around to my "normal" tasks like dishes and laundry, there isn't much time for sewing.

Another thing that I haven't made time for is working out. I remember feeling large and in charge and looking forward to being able to do regular workouts with higher intensity. I'm only five weeks out from my delivery, so it's still early. But I'm going to be honest with you-- my recovery was pretty quick, as in, I felt pretty much 100%-back-to-normal after two weeks. In my defense, I am still adjusting to my new sleep schedule or lack there of. Getting up early to workout when I've only gotten a few hours of sleep isn't real appetizing. I would rather sleep in a little bit more and eat a donut. That sounds good to me.

Getting up in the middle of the night isn't my favorite, but when I sit down to nurse Cecilia, my selfishness fades away and I only see her. A minute before, she was crying and so upset, and then as she eats, her eyes close and she cuddles up close to me. She is at peace. She is content.

When she's done and smiles in her sleep, that right there makes it all worth it.

Last night when she fell asleep as I tried to burp her on my shoulder, her little mouth was slightly open. Her little bottom lip hung out as she snored quietly, it was perfect.

It's funny to think about what life will be with a baby when you don't have kids yet. People say, "What did I do before my baby? I don't even remember!"  Pssh, of course I remember. I used to only do things for my husband and I. There was only the two of us. Now, in this stage of life, there's a newborn that needs constant attention. It won't always be this way. Someday, our little one will be more independent and won't want to cuddle or be soothed.

Babies are only little for a short while. I will get back to sewing and crocheting.
(Well, I hope I can get this dress sewn, so Cecilia can wear it...) There's always naptime. How do you think I had time to write this? <3

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What helped me during my [natural] labor

From the get go, I wanted a natural birth and by natural, I mean no drugs, no interventions, a let-my-body-do-its-thing birth. Here are the things that were helpful in achieving this:

Read- a lot. To get my head in the game, to be all in, I read. If you read my labor & delivery story, you may have noticed I wrote "I had read that..." a few times. I hadn't noticed this until my last entry how many times it occurred, but it's true. I read as much as I could about birth. The process of birth, what happens at each stage during birth, many different scenarios, possible complications...

I remember my first meeting with my midwife. She was (and still is) very straight forward. When I told her I wanted a natural birth she asked me, "How hard are you willing to work?"


That was not what I expected, but it is true. It's called labor for a reason. It is not easy. It is work. Your head needs to be in it or you'll start asking for medicine as soon as you feel the slightest bit scared.

In all my reading that I did, I soaked in as many empowering birth stories as I could. They weren't all easy births, many had set backs or difficulties, but a woman's body is an amazing thing. It was designed to give birth! And then afterwards, it feeds that living thing!! (Even only being a Mama for three weeks, I feel like a superhero- making, carrying, birthing and feeding another human being with my body. That is powerful stuff!)

I read Ina's Spiritual Midwifery and her Guide to Childbirth. I also read Sheila Kitzinger's The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth and The Mama Natural Week-to-week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth, by Genevieve Howland was great, too. (I even brought it to the hospital with me.)

Watch birth stories. I remember telling some ladies at church that I'd been watching births, and my friend Cathy exclaimed, "Oh, honey! Why?!" She couldn't believe it, and to many, that may sound traumatizing.  I wanted to see the reality of birth. I wasn't going to believe what I'd seen on tv or in the movies. It's not all yelling and screaming. Many births I watched didn't look like the Mama was in much pain. (Not saying that she wasn't, but she was probably mentally prepared for the task at hand.) YouTube was a place I looked up birth videos and

Take a birthing class. I was skeptical at first about taking a Lamaze class, but my midwife recommended it. I have to say that it was good for my husband to hear a lot that I had read about. We watched some birth stories in the class and it made my husband really nervous. For me, it just gave me more confidence in what my body was capable of doing. If all these women can get through those contractions, can endure the long labor and all the pain that goes with it, so can I.

Learning how to breathe through the contractions is what I took away from Lamaze. I felt really silly sitting on the floor next to my husband during class, with my eyes closed, practicing breathing, but that's what got me through the first stage of labor. During a contraction, I closed my eyes and did the "candle breathing" as it's called. I didn't focus on anything else, except breathing.

Jump in the tub. The Jacuzzi tub in my labor and delivery room was amazing! Water alleviates back pain, especially if the tub has jets. Turn them on! The warm water is so soothing, too. At my hospital, they were able to continue fetal monitoring while I was in the tub, so I didn't have to get in and out to be checked. If you're giving birth in a hospital, make sure you get to tour the facility. Be familiar with it, so you aren't surprised by something that is or isn't there. 

Surround yourself with people who encourage your choice for a natural birth. As soon as people find out you're pregnant, all the Mamas in your life will tell you their stories and experiences, whether you ask them to or not. To me, one of the most amazing things about child birth is that every single birth is different. Just because your Mom or sister had a long, hard labor, doesn't mean you will. You need to choose people that will help you through the process.

There are so many choices to make during labor: Do I want my water broken or wait for it to happen on its own? Do I want to be medically induced or try some natural induction methods? Do I want an epidural? Do I want to labor in bed, in a tub or walk around? (This is where a birth plan comes in...)

Pick a healthcare provider that is on your side. Whether it is an OB or midwife, you want someone that knows your wishes for birth and won't push interventions on you that you don't want (break your water, give you Pitocin or an epidural, which may lead to a C-section if they don't work the way they're supposed to). My midwife, Kim, was exactly what I wanted and exactly what I needed to get through my labor and delivery.

If it so happens that you need an intervention and you need an unplanned C-section, at the end of it all, a healthy Baby and healthy Mama are all that matter.

I am one of the crazies that wanted to experience child birth the way it is- raw and intense. That's not how everyone feels. Many Mamas opt for an epidural. It is each Mama's choice and birth, however it is, is a beautiful thing. <3

Friday, May 19, 2017

My labor & delivery story, Part 4: I thought for sure I was having a boy

My midwife, Kim, said, "Fill up you lungs, hold your breath and push like you've never been so constipated in your life."

I pushed about three times per contraction. Kim said I could push a fourth time or rest. I preferred to rest.

I still felt like I wasn't open enough, but she told me to push. Pressure increased and Kim said, "Give me your right hand. Feel that? That's your baby's head."

I couldn't believe it! I was so close!

After about twenty minutes of pushing, out came the head. One more contraction and out came the body. The body was easier than the head!

The next thing I heard was Renee exclaim, "It's a girl!"
"What?!" I said in disbelief. We hadn't found out what we were having, but I thought for sure I was going to have a boy.

Kim had to unwrap the umbilical cord from around the baby's waist and made a comment about her jumping rope. After a minute, Kim asked Renee to cut the cord.

Next, Kim started pushing on my abdomen, which hurt quite a bit, to help my uterus expel the placenta. I felt a jelly like object come out and Kim held it up proudly. "Look at that! A placenta is one of the most amazing things. You can take it home and use it as fertilizer in your garden or for the tree you're going to plant for the baby."

Kim wiped off the baby, who was on my chest, then kissed my forehead. "You did excellent, my dear! You were born to have babies!" Then she congratulated Renee and gave her a hug. I needed just two stitches, which hurt a bit, and then got cleaned up.

Our baby girl was born at 6:34pm, weighed 6 pounds 14 ounces and was 20" long. (About 5 1/2 hours after my water broke!)

Renee was taking pictures with her camera, so I asked her to use my phone, too. She didn't know how to use it, so at first she took some selfies and then little videos of me and the Baby, (I saved the videos because they are fun to watch and remember) then finally, she took some pictures.

Twenty minutes after Baby arrived, my husband walked in the room. He couldn't believe he missed the birth. I remember him saying, "What?? Really?!" When he was told he had a girl. I still remember the smile on his face- it didn't ever go away.

Renee had been undergoing radiation treatment at the time, but had to cancel her appointment for that afternoon because she was with me. She left shortly after her son got there. Later, she told me she was getting shaky because she was really hungry. She hadn't eaten since lunch time and it was almost seven o'clock at night. Renee gave me a hug and kiss and said she was thankful she could see her second granddaughter be born.

Another nurse came in and asked if I wanted to take a shower. I rinsed off and then after a bit of story swapping with my husband, and skin to skin time with our baby girl, we went down to our recovery room on the maternity floor.

It was about 9 o'clock when we got to our room and I was really hungry! It was too late to order room service, so we got sandwiches delivered from Jimmy John's. Because Renee drove me to the hospital, my car was still at my sister-in-law's, and because my labor was so fast, my husband's coworker ended up driving them right to the hospital instead of dropping my husband off to get his truck, so delivery was our only option.

It took us until the next morning to decide on a name.

Our baby girl was named Cecilia Rose. It wasn't the name that I thought I'd pick, but again, I wasn't even expecting a girl.

She is so precious and sweet. We think it fits her perfectly. <3

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My labor & delivery story, Part 3: Steadily more intense

We went right to triage and up to the labor and delivery floor. The nurses strapped me up to the monitor for fifteen minutes. One nurse put in an IV site, just for emergency reasons, if something were to happen and I needed one.

Kim got there after a bit and asked, "Are you ready to get in the tub?"
I asked, "Has it been fifteen minutes? The nurses said I needed twenty minutes of monitoring."
"They listen to me. I'm the boss. You're ready for the tub," Kim replied.

As I took off my gown and just had a sleep nursing bra on I thought, "Renee is going to see a lot more of me than she ever has before."

I was in the tub for a while, but can't say for how long. Time passed by fast. Contractions got steadily more intense. I just did my candle breathing I learned from Lamaze and held onto the two bars on the sides of the tub. I bent my knees and would move my feet to try to get through each contraction.

Renee finally got a hold of my husband. I heard her ask, "Where are you? Colleen is in labor! Do you want to talk to her?"

She handed me the phone and I heard my husband say, "Hey babe, how's it going?" in a softer, more gentle voice than usual.
I said, "I'm OK. Where are you?" Then a contraction started and I couldn't talk.
He asked, "Are you there?"
"Yes, I'm having a contraction."
"You sound like you're doing really well. I'm proud of you. You're doing great. I love you."
"I love you, too."

During my labor, I occasionally heard the nurses say, "You're doing awesome" or "great breathing." Maybe that would be helpful for some people, but I really just wanted quiet and to focus on breathing through each contraction. Renee sat on the couch crocheting a prayer shawl. She knew I was doing well on my own. She would get me water when I asked for it and gave me some chapstick to use.

One time, Kim was right next to the tub as I opened my eyes. She asked me if I liked the smell of lavender. I said yes and she put some essential oil on my temples and on a tissue that floated in the water directly under my chin.

After a bit, I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. I remember reading that you should keep your bladder empty to help during labor. I couldn't remember how long it had been since I'd gone to the bathroom. The nurses had a large, warm towel for me and after my next contraction, I shuffled over to the bathroom.

I don't know how long I sat on the toilet for, but Kim brought a stool over and sat right in front of me.  I was slightly bent forward with my hands on my thighs. Kim told me to slow my breathing down and then I started to moan and groan. There was a lot of pressure and I felt like I needed to push, but I didn't feel dilated enough to do so. Kim had to keep reminding me to moan lower in my throat, to not strain or tense up.

I was getting really sweaty. I was dripping onto the floor and my hands started sliding down my legs. I wanted to lay down and get more comfortable. I shuffled over to the bed and laid on my left side. I knew I didn't want to labor on my back and I didn't want to squat because I read that may increase chances of tearing.

Kim had ice cold wash cloths and put them on my neck and head. They felt so nice! When I had really close contractions and the urge to push, Kim said I could. She then asked Renee to be the towel lady and take over putting new cold cloths on my forehead. Renee didn't feel like she had done much, but having her be there was a comfort. I didn't want to be there alone in this moment.

I held onto the handle on the side of the bed. When Kim said to push during my next contraction, I just held on tighter.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My labor & delivery story, Part 2: I don't think he's going to make it in time...

My contractions started up on the drive to Erie and every bump was pretty bad.

My husband said they were going to leave the job site at 3:00, so when I noticed the dashboard clock read 3:05, I wondered if he'd gotten my message. I called him again, leaving another voicemail.

Almost to the office, the nurse I spoke to earlier called me asking where I was. My midwife had been waiting for me. I quickly explained that I couldn't find anyone to take me to the office, so I started driving until my mother-in-law got a hold of me, making me a half hour later than expected. (At this point, we were only five minutes away from the office.)

Before I had left for Erie, I had put on a Depends, (I had bought a package a couple weeks earlier because I had read that other women found them convenient for recovery after labor) but now was completely soaked. I wrapped my towel around my waist and we headed to the office. I didn't care. I was uncomfortable and wet. I told Renee, "I hope I'm more than 2 cm [dilated], I don't want to have to drive all the way home."

When we got upstairs, the receptionist asked if I had an appointment. I said calmly, "My water just broke and Kim wants to check me."
Renee chimed in, "She's in labor!"

We got called back and Kim said, "It's always fun when they come in with a towel wrapped around their waist!"
Renee, again, said, "She's in labor."
But because I sat there quiet and calm, Kim replied, "No, she's not. Look at her. OK, my dear, let's see where we're at." After a minute she said, "You are at 6 cm. You are going to go to the hospital, right up to labor and delivery."

I was shocked. My contractions had been getting worse, but I didn't think I was that far along. Kim then told me they'd do fifteen minutes of fetal monitoring and then she wanted me in the Jacuzzi tub. (I had told Renee on the way to the office that I was bummed that I couldn't use the tub in the room because my water broke.) Kim said it was OK.

As Kim was about to leave the room, Renee said, "Her husband is three hours away!"
Kim replied, "I don't think he's going to make it in time."

Before we headed to the hospital, as customary, I had to check out. I handed the receptionist my paper and parking ticket to be validated. She said, "OK, you saw Kim today and you have an appointment with her tomorrow at ten."
Renee leaned in again and said, "No- she's having a baby today!"

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My labor & delivery story, Part 1: "I hope your water doesn't break!"

Tuesday morning, my husband left for work early- 4:15 am- to go out east for the day to finish a job with his coworker, Pat. As my husband kissed me goodbye he asked, "Are you feeling OK?"
"Yeah, I feel fine," I replied, and he was off.

Tuesday was also my last day of teaching art at school. Being the last day, I decided to use my "Dress Down Birthday coupon" since I didn't want to waste the opportunity to wear jeans.

My third grade class has been the most interested in my impending delivery, always spending the first five minutes of each class asking me questions about the Baby. "Do you think it's a boy or a girl?" ... "What are you going to name it?" Along with many name suggestions.

This class, a student named Carter shared first by saying, "I hope your water doesn't break!" I replied, "Yes, I hope my water doesn't break, too!" A couple students had puzzled looks on their faces because they had never heard of that before. I tried to explain, "There is fluid all around the Baby and it protects the Baby. When the water breaks or starts to leak, then that means the Baby will come soon."

After about fifteen minutes of the students working, I felt a warm gush run down my jeans. My water just broke! I kept looking down to see if it was visible, if it looked like I just peed my pants. I shuffled myself to the door and told the class, "I will be right back."
"You're leaving us?!" they asked.
I repeated myself. "I will be right back."

I walked down to the computer lab where the principal's office is adjacent and asked the sixth grade teacher, Mr. Johnson, if the principal was in her office. (All of the sixth graders were in the computer lab and I didn't want them to see any evidence of what had happened.) The principal, Karen, came out to the hallway and I whispered, "I think my water just broke."
She looked at me, gave me a hug and said, "Go home!"

I drove home and tried not to get too excited or nervous. This was not how I pictured things to go. I remember asking my midwife, Kim, what to do if my water broke. She said, "You don't want that to happen... then you are more likely to have the kind of labor and delivery you don't want. " (Meaning, I may need to be induced if labor doesn't start, which if I didn't deliver within 24 hours, I would need to get a C-section because the Baby isn't protected and is at risk for getting an infection.) I also remember her telling me to walk around the house sans pants for an hour if my water does break, to ensure that's what is really happening.

I got out of my soaked jeans and put a bath towel around me, like a giant diaper, with clothes pins holding it up, and got things ready: bags for the hospital and clothes for my husband. (I really didn't want to be trickling amniotic fluid all over the house... who was going to clean that up?)

I tried to call my husband, but he didn't have cell service, so I left him a message. After an hour, I loaded up the car and called my midwife. A nurse answered and said to come into the office to get checked out. Next, I called my mother-in-law, Renee, but she didn't answer. I needed to get to Erie (45 minutes away), but I didn't have anyone to take me, so I got in the car and started driving. I called my Mom to let her know what was happening, not sure when Baby was coming. I hadn't had any contractions yet. I couldn't believe this was all happening.

After about fifteen minutes of driving, Renee called me. "Where are you? Turn around! I'm driving you!" I turned around and drove back into town, where she was watching my niece and nephew at my sister-in-law's house. I left my car there, Renee loaded all my bags into her car, me sitting on a garbage bag and a towel, we headed to Erie.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Am I nesting?

Our little guys in their new home
The past two days, I have gotten a lot done.
My to-do lists have all been crossed off and completed.

I vacuumed the house, mopped floors, baked a pie, washed and hung out laundry, finished projects, washed many dishes, and have had my hospital bag packed for over a week...

Am I nesting?

Is Little Mack soon to arrive?

As of yesterday, I am 39 weeks. All my baby newsletters and apps tell me "Baby is full term"... "Baby is ready to be born!"

I was asked yesterday via my pregnancy app, "Would you like to report a birth and share your story?"

Of course, I would, but Little Mack enjoys where he/she is, so no, thank you. I'll get back to you on that.

I have hit "Mama-mode." I am completely fine with wearing leggings as pants because they are stretchy and comfortable. I used dry shampoo on my hair in lieu of washing it this morning. (Or maybe it's just the "I'm-nine-months-pregnant-and-I'm-ready-for-Baby" mode?)

I feel good. I really do.

Sleep is still hit and miss. At my last appointment, I asked my midwife, "Do you have any advice on getting better sleep?" She responded, "Not being pregnant."


Last night, my husband and I went to our church to get our picture taken for the new directory. To be funny and cover our bases, he had written for How many people? "2-3." When the photographer looked at our form she asked, "There aren't three of you?" Nope. Just two. To be honest, newborns aren't the cutest in pictures, but I was really hoping that there would be three of us. Nope. Just two. I have also been feeling rather large and blah, so I didn't like any of the pictures of me. My husband on the other hand, super handsome and photogenic. We balanced out.

This late in the game, everyone who sees me asks, "Ohh, no Baby yet?" I may use my friend Mary Lou's comeback she told me yesterday, "Why yes, I did have the Baby, but I enjoyed being pregnant so much, I shoved the Baby back in for a little while longer!"

C'mon, people-- all ya'll will know when I have this Baby.

I will be posting waaaay too many pictures on various social media platforms.
How would I be able to keep such exciting and monumental news to myself??

I'm sure there is something I should be doing or buying that I haven't already done, but I am feeling ready. No one is ever really ready, but I feel calm. I'm definitely not ready to be sleep deprived or experience all the fun postpartum recovery I've read about, but I am absolutely ready to meet our Little Mack.

I had another dream Little Mack was a boy.

For real, I am going to be so surprised if Little Mack is a girl... and there's no reason why. I have no idea what Little Mack is. I do know that he/she is what God has planned for us and that is really exciting. <3

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A lot has been happening

I am 37 and a half weeks pregnant, which means I'm having weekly prenatal appointments.

I started taking Evening Primrose Oil to hopefully help with impending labor.

My husband moved our chicken coop out by the garden, so the chickens can scratch and eat the grass.

We set up our very own greenhouse.

We are the caretakers of fifteen baby chicks.

I worked my last day at the thrift store and with my dear friend that I've gotten to know over the last two years.

A lot has been happening.

Change is inevitable.  Nothing will always be the same. We can have our routines and whatnot, but things happen. Plans fall through. People get sick. People are healed. The seasons pass. People have babies. People grow. New jobs are started. Something new begins.

It can be hard to embrace some of these things (especially for a woman who is eight months pregnant). I have been trying to focus on the good and the positive; being thankful in all circumstances.

I am feeling good. It varies day to day, but at the moment I don't feel huge... well, until I look in the mirror, and then I remember, "Oh yeah, you're carrying around another thirty-five pounds... maybe that's why people keep asking how much longer you have."

Right now I'm in limbo.
It's too late to take a nap, but too early to go to bed.

Fatigue is setting in, for sure. I've gotten the nursery ready, but the whole I-need-to-clean-every-inch-of-the-house-nesting-phase? Nope. Definitely not there. Sure, I would like to get some cleaning done before Little Mack arrives, but sitting is just much more enjoyable. No, not just sitting... sitting and eating ice cream is much more enjoyable.

My original due date was April 29th, but then it was moved back after I had my first sonogram. Really, Little Mack could come at any time... which is nuts to think about. I'm sure labor will start in the middle of the night and then I'll be up for thirty-something hours straight.

Last night, my husband was talking to Baby and said to him/her, "You should come on Wednesday."
"You want the Baby born on your birthday?"
"Yeah, wouldn't that be fun?"
"So, I'll go to my prenatal appointment in the morning and then go into labor?"
That would be something, all right.
Little Mack coming into this world will definitely be a change from our routine.
Change can be a good thing. <3 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

a sign of Spring and new life

Maybe it's the hit and miss sleep I've been getting, but I really did not hear my alarm this morning.

I woke up to my husband kissing my forehead before he left for work.

I started taking Mountain Meadow Herb's Gentle Birth Formula last week, which means I'm less than five weeks from Little Mack's arrival date.

I have papers on the dining room table from the Breastfeeding Basics class I went to last night, along with a page of stamps I bought yesterday to send out thank you cards. Under all that is the Easter Flower order spread sheet I made for church.

On the floor by my feet, there is a laundry basket of folded towels, napkins and cloth rags that still need to be put away from two days ago.

The counter is full of dishes that need washed and the dish rack is full of clean dishes that still need to be put away from yesterday.

On a chair next to me is an unopened scrapbook I bought to save and remember things from this pregnancy.

I started a list (on the back of my list from yesterday) of things I would like to do before Little Mack comes, some things being: finish writing thank you cards, organize the guest room, wash/organize cloth diapers, hang curtains in the nursery, sew ring sling...

It is so easy to be overwhelmed by all these things.

It would be so easy to stress out and worry whether or not I cross these tasks off my list.

On the table in front of me is a slender, blue vase with three daffodils that my husband found by our spring house and cut for me yesterday, a sign of Spring and new life.

It is really amazing that every pregnancy, labor and delivery is different.

As any first time Momma there are so many unknowns.

I ask Little Mack,
"When are you going to come?"
"Will you be early?"
"Will you be late?"
"Are you positioned in a favorable way for your Momma?"

I will continue to take this all in--

every kick, every nudge, every flutter.

I will continue to take this one day at a time.

My to-do list will get done.
Maybe not today or the next day.

I will continue to count all these as blessings and rest in the peace and comfort that I have.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

Monday, March 27, 2017

Celebrating you

Last week, we celebrated you.

It was an absolutely beautiful baby shower. It took a lot of planning and work, and it was all for you. You who we haven't even met yet, but who we already love. The opening prayer for you almost brought me to tears. Knowing that so many will be in your life to help you, nurture you, support you and love you.

The shower was a garden theme, which seems pretty appropriate since you will spend a lot of time in the garden during your first Summer with us. Bunnies and flowers and beautiful linens and Beatrix Potter books all arranged and displayed about.

Prizes for the games
Sharon Troyer made a beautiful ice ring
with flowers made of fruit peels!
I took a quiz to see if we could figure out if you're a boy or a girl, but the results were inconclusive.

The beautiful shower hostesses:
Paula, Marlene, Janet and Autumn
Both sets of your grandparents were there- Grammie, Grampie, and Grandma and Papa from New York. Great Gramma "Moo" was there, too. Your cousin, Lilianna, helped us with opening gifts for you.

You have received SO many gifts! I think you have enough clothes to last you until your first birthday. Boy or girl, I know you will look wonderful in whites, yellows and greens. Many gifts were handmade with you in mind: clothes, blankets, bibs, toys... You also were given books- a library, really! Afterward, your Dad and I went through them all, reading the messages and well wishes people wrote inside. I have already read some of the stories to you, but you will hear many more when you are here, cuddling with us.

A crocheted baby blanket with a little Jonah
that fits inside the whale, by Ruth Trembley

I just put in your first load of laundry this morning. I'm amazed at how many little outfits can fit in the wash at once. I'm looking forward to organizing your dresser and setting up all your little cloth diapers under the changing table.

Your bedroom is almost set up. Every time we open the door, your big, fur-brother, Alfie, runs in and sits by the window. (That's one of his favorite spots to look out from. I hope you two get along.)

I am so thankful to the ladies that hosted the shower for you: Paula, Marlene, Janet and Autumn. I am so thankful to all that were able to come to the shower and I am so thankful for everyone who has been praying with me for you, Little Mack.

Your Dad and I went to Lamaze the other day, to help us get ready for your big debut.

We watched some labor stories and that made your Dad a bit more nervous. I have watched so many already, each one empowering me and reassuring me that I was made to give birth and to endure labor for you. Whatever the circumstances and pain, you will be worth all the sweat and tears.

(Your Dad really wants to play Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss- the theme from 2001: Space Odyssey- as you're crowning... I don't know if I'll be up for that when the time comes.)

34 weeks down maybe 6 to go??!

I haven't been sleeping that great lately. An extra thirty pounds now, with you inside, doesn't make things very comfortable. Alfie naps with me, which is nice, plus, I know that this discomfort is temporary. You will be here soon, cuddling with us and not kicking me in the ribs. Cuddling will be way more comfortable.

I made a list of things we still need and there are some things I still want to make. If they don't get purchased and/or made, I know that we all make do with all that we have been blessed with already.

We will survive.

We will have each other. <3

Friday, March 17, 2017

How did this candy bar get in here?

I was informed by my husband last week that I am starting "to walk like a pregnant lady." Since I am, in fact, pregnant, and he didn't use the word "waddle," I take no offense to his statement.

We've hit the seven month mark and I've gained 25 pounds. It has affected pretty much every aspect of my life.

I don't remember a good night's sleep. Even with my pregnancy pillow, I have to flip over to my other side to get comfortable again. The middle-of-the-night-bathroom-run has also unwelcomingly returned. However, I can nap anytime (and Alfie is such good company).

I have had to go through my clothes again, mostly tops, because my bump is setting new records. My Winter coat is quite snug to zip up now. I am hoping Spring makes its debut soon.

I remember when I first tried on some of my medium sized maternity shirts thinking, "Whoa! These are huge!" Now I can't remember being that little... I feel like it took a while to get from looking like I ate too much to having a baby bump.

I definitely like food still, but am starting to slow down. I fill up so fast. I was rivaling my husband at dinner time, and that was with me having small snacks in between meals.

Two weeks ago, I got another cold and was having horrible coughing fits. My husband suggested he run out and get me a cough suppressant (mama-to-be safe and alcohol free). When he returned, he was opening up the bag and asked me, "How did this candy bar get in here?" Of course, it being a Hershey's Cookies 'n Cream, one of my favorites. This same phenomenon happened today only this time it was a Butterfinger.

I have yet to cry at a sappy t.v. commercial, but pretty much anything else will make me cry. Every time I watch a birthing video and the mama sees her baby for the first time, hearing a song on the radio, anytime someone else cries, watching Sense and Sensibility for the hundredth time, and when I feel dumb after sliding my car into a ditch and having to call for help... all opportunities to start the water works. Don't worry, I just bought waterproof mascara.

Little Mack has been kicking up into my ribs lately, not to the point of painful, but to wake me up or to remind me he/she is in there.

We have almost crossed everything off on the "To-Do-Before-Baby List."

The bathroom is done except some trim work.

We moved our bedroom down the hall to the former guest room.

The craft room is now officially Little Mack's nursery. My husband moved the furniture in and put the crib together.

Where are my craft supplies you ask? Anywhere there is extra space... closets, in the cedar chest in our bedroom, in totes all over the floor in the guest room, under the bed... yeah, there's still work to do... but we have seven more weeks, right?

Seven more weeks?

Oh, gracious.

Next week, our church is throwing a baby shower for us, I have another prenatal appointment, and then we start Lamaze class.

Deep breath in... deep breath out...

I am already blown away by the cards and gifts we have received.

So much love, support and prayers for this little one that we haven't even met yet.

So much preparation and anticipation.

So much to be thankful for. <3

Friday, February 24, 2017

It's getting real.

It's getting real.

Today, I am thirty weeks along. How did this happen? Wait, forget that question... I mean, time has flown by!

For the end of February, it was a beautiful day. I wore a skirt and sandals to celebrate such a warm day, and also the fact that earlier this week I was able to reach my toes and paint them a sparkly pink.

Quite a few customers of the thrift store came in today that hadn't been in for a while. As in, hadn't been in to shop within the past six months. Each commented on my growing belly and asked the typical questions:

"When are you due?/How far along are you?"

"What are you having?"

"Is this your first baby?"

...And then followed by their own experiences and/or Mom-wisdom that is, of course, truth:

"I've done natural... but if you have an epidural, you'll enjoy the birth..."

"Oh, you're for sure having a girl by the way your carrying..."

"I got these really bad, stinging pains towards the end of pregnancy. I really hope you don't get those."

Every conversation ended with, "Good luck!"

Most times I just politely said "thank you."

I had been warned by my doctor and midwife that everyone will share advice, however, every pregnancy is different and how the birth goes is undetermined. I'm not going to deny the fact that pain is in the future. (Although I have read many birth stories, some in which the mother describes her experience being the opposite of pain.) It's called "labor" for a reason... it's hard work.

For the past six months, I have been doing my best at: staying active, eating well, drinking enough water, taking my prenatal vitamins, reading as much as I can about birth. I can only control so much. If a caesarian section is the only way to deliver a healthy baby, that's what will have to happen. Of course I have a birth plan, a dream birth, in my head. Only time will tell...

I still feel really well and haven't had any out of the ordinary symptoms. (I did hurt my foot from walking along the roadside. It has been very mild here, so I had been going on 3+ mile walks with some friends. I think I need sneakers with better support.) I have had some lower back pain, but that's what happens when you gain a bunch of weight.

My wonderful, hardworking, amazingly handy husband just finished tiling our tub surround! We're one step closer to crossing off "bathroom reno" from the "Needs-done-before-Baby list."

At school this week, a third grader asked me, "How much longer do you have before the baby comes?"
"About ten weeks, " I said.
Her eyes got really big and her mouth opened.
I asked her, "does that sound like a lot of time or not a lot of time?"
"Not a lot of time!"

She's right. It doesn't sound like a lot of time, but we will keep working on our list and do as much as we can. All a baby really needs is love, warmth, a whole mess of diapers, mama's milk, and a car seat ...or else we can't bring baby home.

Even if I had everything that is recommended, all the highest rated products, and the perfect nursery set up, I would still feel inadequate at times, feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.

So, I am deciding to be positive.

I am positive that I will get frustrated.

I am positive that I will make mistakes.

I am positive that I having a baby will be the hardest thing I've ever done.

and I'm positive that it's going to be one of the greatest, too. <3

Monday, February 6, 2017

I'm proud of this belly!

I am blessed in many ways.

I am blessed to be carrying a healthy baby,

and for having sisters and a sister-in-law to get maternity hand-me-downs from.

Because when you gain an extra twenty pounds, ain't nothing gonna fit.

Yes, you read that right. Two-zero.

I think my Mom only gained 20 or 25 pounds when she had my sisters and I. Yikes, Colleen, you need to slooow down... I have been good, guys! I promise! (And you can ask my husband- I was not sneaking Christmas cookies. Poor guy ate most of them and it took him half way through January because I wasn't eating any.)

Before going to school the other day, I scrounged through my maternity stash for bigger sizes. No more "smalls" for this momma. Little Mack has moved me up to a "medium" and I am totally fine with that.

Before I got pregnant, I did not like the thought of gaining a bunch of weight, but then when I found out I was pregnant the thought left my mind.

Shoot- I am making a person! I'm going to gain weight, to grow and nurture a another human being inside of my body. Bring on the maternity pants with the giant belly panels!

I don't feel like I'm any bigger except when I try to reach for something on the floor or attempt to zip a jacket that I haven't worn for a while.

The other day at the thrift store I work at, a customer asked me for help. She was trying to find the size of a shirt that was nowhere to be found because the tag had been cut out.
     As she finally turned to look at me she said in a unsteady voice, "Are you pregnant?"
     I happily replied, "Yes, I am!"
     "Oh good! I thought you were fat."

I wanted to say, "I'm six months pregnant., lady... growing a human being inside of me... I'm proud of this belly!!" But I don't think that would've been good customer service. I just walked away.

The weeks are rolling along and Little Mack grows more everyday.

I remember when I made my first doctor's appointment. I thought waiting until my eighth week was taking forever. The third trimester is on the horizon and I don't believe it.

I had a prenatal appointment with my midwife last week and she said that I am on track with my size. She also said that the baby doesn't have any more room to grow up (into my ribs), so the belly is going to be stretching out.

I also did the ever exciting glucose tolerance test and am SO happy to hear that my blood work is all normal.

Progress is coming (slowly) on my pre-baby checklist.

My husband has been working on the bathroom and I finished painting our soon-to-be bedroom. The craft room is still a disaster, but I keep telling myself we have three more months... I hope we have three more months! (Unless Little Mack decides to check out early.) I need to stay active, especially now, so all this can get done while I still have the energy.

Last night, sitting on the couch watching the Super Bowl (wearing a beloved Buffalo Bills shirt that I stretched to fit me) I felt huge. I still have three more months, give or take, and I am having a hard time picturing my belly bigger than it is right now.

I am getting very excited to meet Little Mack. Every little kick makes me smile and reminds me that I am truly blessed in many ways. <3

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

days off will be a thing of the past

This Christmas was one to remember.

Nothing out of the ordinary happened. It was cozy watching movies by the fire, eating popcorn and Christmas candy.

Next Christmas-- will look a bit different...

So far, my pregnancy has been great: no unusual symptoms, no bad morning sickness. I did have a nasty cold that lingered for a couple weeks which involved a visit to my doctor, but that is bound to happen during an over-Winter pregnancy.

Baby, or Little Mack as we like to call him/her, has been moving around like crazy! It is such a weird and wonderful feeling... this little person giving me an elbow every now and then to make sure I don't forget he/she is in there.

Over our Christmas break, my husband and I travelled up to NY to see my family for a few days. Unfortunately, this event only happens once or twice a year-- four daughters, eight grandchildren, living in three different states. It is a time I treasure for sure.

My family has a unique set up: eight grandchildren with one having been born every year for the past eight years. The newest edition, Isaac, who was born in October, received MANY cuddles and snuggles. (Especially from me.)

I can't help it. I don't apologize for it. I clearly remember three years ago, cuddling with my nephew, William, at the time he was just shy of a year. I held him up to my husband and said, "This. I want one just like THIS." I love babies. Since I wasn't having one of my own, I was doing my loyal Auntie duties and loving up on all my nieces and nephews; same went for this Christmas.

As I cuddled baby Isaac, people would say, "...soon you'll have one of your own!" or " a few months, this will be your baby."

Good night.

At five months pregnant, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that a little person is growing and developing inside my womb and these quiet mornings alone (well, Alfie, my handsome cat, is here) will be a thing of the past.

I know that "you're never really ready" and "motherhood is the hardest, but most rewarding thing you'll ever do," but on this side, the fence is way too high to see what it will be like over there in "Motherhood." I hear about it, but don't have the faintest idea how my life will look over there.

When I've asked friends who are now parents, they "don't remember what life was like before." Maybe it's the haze of new love that has entered their lives, but really? No recollection?? Like I said, can't see over the fence. I don't understand yet.

Life is quiet, cozy, and if I want it be, a little lazy on my days off.

Yes, my days off will be a thing of the past; a mere dream...

Nine months does not seem like enough time to prepare. My nesting list, no, I don't like that, my LIFE-ing list is pretty long:

-Finish organizing/cleaning/boxing up my craft room, as it will be Little Mack's room

-Paint the guest bedroom before...

-Moving our bedroom down the hall to said bedroom, as it is bigger and will be next to the nursery

-Lovingly encourage my husband to finish the LAST part of our bathroom remodel: retiling the tub surround ...we're SO close!!

-Setting up the nursery

Nope. Not even close to being ready.

Yep. Motherhood will be crazy hard.

But it'll be OK. I know this because I am blessed with a loving and supportive husband, along with family and friends who will help me through.

Next Christmas will still be cozy, definitely not quiet, but still full of love, just like it always is. And I think I'm ready for that. <3