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Friday, January 31, 2014

Things I Learned in January

So I didn't do this for a few months while life was hectic, and we didn't have internet.  Then life got more hectic and we have internet again and I decided to join back up on this monthly review before I forget all the cool stuff that makes life so hectic.  However, the blog I usually link to isn't doing a link up this month.  So, just for writing memories' sake, here's what I learned in January (mostly the last half though, to be honest).

1.  Going past your due date is such a major bummer.

2.  Giving birth in a car is rather awkwardly empowering, and entirely unforgettable.

3.  We have a baby girl and no one can take her away! After losing our little girls in foster care, we both wanted a baby girl.  However, God knew what He was doing when he put those girls back with family.  If we had them right now, life would be so incredibly hectic and tough! A 3 year old, a 2 year old, a 1 year old and a new born - holy moly!  We are still very excited about adopting someday though.  I have no idea when, since you have to have a job and a home in order to prove you can provide for a child in a home-study, but I am confident it will happen in God's timing.  I often pray for our adopted child/children's parents.
She's a keeper!

4. I forgot how convenient it is to have a hands-free pumping bra (if you are a mama who pumps, you've got to get one - it makes it sooooo much easier).  I have been pumping and writing on my blog and reading blogs and articles like these:
This article made me cry because I think I'm just a hot postpartum mess some days and I feel like John and I want to treat each other like this, but we struggle. It is aimed at men and women who become parents: To Wives: Before You Were Mommy This follows the same lines: I'm Dating Someone even though I'm Married  Then this one has some really super random and totally unreasonable things, but they are just fascinating home ideas none-the-less: 33 Amazing Home Interior Ideas  Then this just lays it out there about how to put everything into perspective for everyone - whether you're a parent or not:  It's Not About Me  This one was very helpful on a particular yucky parenting day with lots of clothing changes for both kids: Because I Love My God

5. Those articles and others like them have all helped me to stay focused on the fact that this time in our lives is just a season.  We will only have a newborn and a 20 month old for a few short weeks.  We will only live with my father-in-law for a hopefully short period of time.  Jonah's temper tantrums and the baby going through 6 outfits in one day from poo/pee/spit up will not last forever.  Jonah's sweet toddler speech way of saying "I yuh yoooo" and Karis' absolutely adorable falling asleep smile will not last forever.  Jonah would never have gotten to know all 5 of his grandparents (and love them dearly) if we didn't live here right now.  Jonah reaching up to hold my hand as we walk down the hallway toward the kitchen and Karis looking at the whole world with big, new eyes will not last forever.  Having our parents take Jonah for almost the whole first week after having the baby was a truly priceless and helpful gift.  Jonah will not pinch, hit and scream and Karis will not cry nonstop after 9pm unless you stand and sway with her forever.  Jonah will not laugh when I blow a raspberry on his belly and Karis will not grin at my boob like it's the best gourmet meal on earth forever.  It is encouraging and sad all at the same time.  It is all a season.  I have mentally been telling myself "This is just a season" and "It's not about me" and asking if my actions are motivated by being able to say "Because I love my God."  These three little phrases have kept me remarkably sane and at peace with all of the life changes being thrown our way right now.
Jonah with John's dad, Stanley, looking at a google image search of 'combines.'
They do this every day when Stanley gets home from work.
It's just sweet.
6.  It is so stinking hard to get a good picture of BOTH of my kids at the same time.  I can get one of them all day, but I feel like my iPhone camera laughs and says "Oh how dare you try to get them looking cute together!" One has eyes half-closed, the other looks sweet.  One is a moving blur, the other looks happy.  One is screaming, the other is actually smiling.  Can you relate?  It is a little comical.  Here are a few examples:
Smiling babies! This is one of the better ones of them both actually smiling,
but I had Karis in the Moby wrap, so her little head is kind of hidden.
I laid Jonah on the bed next to Karis to try to get these.
Jonah looked so cute in the top one,
so I put in on facebook,
even though Karis is looking crazy cross-eyed.   
Jonah needs a haircut.
Several blurry headed shots here.
Thank God for Ashlea Chance at Southern Made Photography!  She did Jonah's one year pictures, and then our maternity pictures, and offered to do "Birth Photography" for free while she builds that side of her portfolio (unfortunately we didn't make it to the hospital in time for her to document the birth, but she got the first few hours we were there).  Then we went to her home studio to do Karis' newborn pictures.  Jonah would not cooperate at all.  He did not want to even sit near us, let alone smile.  We tried bribing him with candy and toys to no avail.  Then he saw Karis naked curled up on this chair, and he thought her little tiny naked butt was the funniest thing he had ever seen.  He kept grinning, and laughing and patting it and going "Bum bum! Bum bum!"  When we tried to get him to kiss her head, he just wanted to kiss her butt.  It was comical.  I cannot wait to see those pictures!  After that, John's mom took Jonah to her house for the rest of the day, while we tried to get cute pictures of just Karis.  However, the baby needed to be fully asleep to pose her in cute ways, and the girl would not conk out!  Ashlea was so patient and encouraging, helpful and kind.  She shared stories of how she couldn't get her 3 boys to make appropriate "photo worthy" faces either, and we shared breastfeeding difficulties.  For a mom of a six day old, it was very encouraging and I felt no pressure.  If you are in the Huntsville area, you should really check her out! These are her previews from the birth photography and the newborn shoot:

7.  Blood oranges are super cool.  They really do look kind of the color of blood on the inside, and dark fruit = antioxidants.  They taste like a regular orange, but slightly more sour, not even close to being as sour as a grapefruit, but just more so than normal oranges.  I'm sold! 
I'm not very good at food photography, lol. 

8.  Newborns can smile.  I really thought they simply were not able to until they got older, and then I had Karis.  This little girl has been smiling since the day she was born.  I remember seeing her smile in the hospital as she fell asleep that first night, and just thought it was like a little sweet miracle to accompany her whole neat entrance to the world.  However, it continued!  At first it was just while she fell asleep, as though she entered a dreamland between her consciousness being awake and asleep that was so lovely her little face couldn't help but to smile.  On her ninth day of life though, she began smiling while fully awake.  She smiles at my boob in the middle of her "meal" and she smiles at me sometimes with her eyes wide open.  It melts my heart.  It is not just gas.  Yes, we do see some gas smiles (like she fills her diaper up and then smiles with relief), but they are not all gas related. Jonah did not smile until he was five weeks old, so I never expected this.  I am hoping it means she has a sweet spirit, and will be an optimistic soul. 
5 Days Old
One Week Old
9 Days Old
11 Days Old
9.  I am glad I do not live in Birmingham right now, and am hoping this is not going to be what Huntsville is in for next week.  It is a sobering thought to think of all the people who had to stay at work overnight, away from their families, or abandon their cars.  I have been thinking of and praying for these people, in Birmingham and Atlanta, and enjoying reading about other births that happened in cars, so far learning of baby Grace.  Other than the snow, I can totally relate!

10.  My stomach so feels so empty without the baby in there.  I remember liking that after Jonah.  This time, I am a little nostalgic and sad about it because I don't know if we will have any more belly babies.  It is most noticeable at night, when I used to wrap my arm around my belly and tuck my hand underneath, holding the baby.  I don't remember what I used to do with my arm before I had a big belly.  It is a relief to be able to lie on my stomach again sometimes though.

11.  Just when I feel like I am at the end of my rope and cry out to God to help us, He does.  This jobless time has been hard on us emotionally, wondering, waiting, hoping.  We have 3 churches (in AL, FL, and TN) that are actively pursuing John right now for different positions.  PRAISE The LORD!  Two are for a youth and family ministry position, and one is actually to start a contemporary service within a traditional church and they want a guy to be the pastor/preacher for the contemporary service and focus on ministering to young families in the church and community.  Please pray with us that God would lead our family to the exact place he desires for us to serve.  We desperately want to plug in, get roots, and grow as a family in ONE PLACE for several years.  After moving 6 times in 5 years, we want to settle down and raise our family and serve in one place.  We covet your prayers for clear direction and peace about what to do if he is offered more than one of these positions, or if none of these is right, what to do next. 

12.  I want to teach again.  Not today, or right now, but I definitely do.  I see all my teacher friends posting things on facebook and pinterest and I know that is part of my life still.  My teaching years aren't over yet.  I just don't know when I'll begin again.  I dreamt I taught Kindergarten last night.  I was happy, and I loved my class.  Then my little crying baby woke me up, and I was still happy.  I loved my baby instead and prayed for former students while I nursed, until we both fell asleep in the recliner.  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Birth in a Car

So, let me start by making it absolutely clear that it was never my intention, or anyone else's, that I give birth in our car.  This was, in human terms, a rather colossal mistake on my part.  I think though, it was just the way God planned it.

If you are a man, or someone who doesn't want all the details, I have tried to make the most important facts in bold for your ease of scrolling.

I made this error (having my baby in the car) because I was basing much of what happened on my first labor and delivery experience with Jonah.  In a nutshell, the biggest things that happened with Jonah that had a great effect on my outlook were this:

1.  We went to the hospital too early and got sent home.  I was having contractions 4 minutes apart for over an hour, in quite a lot of pain, but was only dilated to 3 cm.  I wanted to have a natural birth with no epidural, so they said we should just go back home.  That was devastating, mentally and physically to have to drive back home, still in a lot of labor pain.  This time I was determined to not get sent home again.
2.  When we went back to the hospital SEVEN hours later, and my contractions were about 2 minutes apart and lasting 2 minutes long, I was exhausted, I was still only dilated to 5cm.  We were admitted and I requested Nubain, a narcotic drug that gave me some rest and allowed me to sleep between contractions for about 2 hours, and then wore off and I was back to a natural labor.  This time I was really set on not having to ask for any drugs, so I was trying to stay at home as long as possible before I reached that exhausted phase.
3.  As soon as my water broke in the hospital, the nurse said I had dilated immediately from 7cm to 10cm and I was ready to push. However, I do not think I was ready to push, because I did not feel the urge to push at all.  In fact, I believe my body was trying to rest a little before delivery.  Instead, I followed doctor's and nurse's orders and pushed when they told me to push for about 25 minutes.  That is not bad for a first time delivery, but because I pushed then, before I was ready, I had no idea what it felt like to actually need to push.

If you are interested in the whole long story, you can read about Jonah's birth here.
So, basing what I had experienced before, I had no clue that my labor was as far progressed as it apparently was at home.

I had false labor this time the 3 mornings in a row prior to the delivery day.  I was waking up having contractions, needing to urgently use the bathroom multiple times, walking around the bathroom, catching up on last minute things, reading my encouragement cards, breathing through some contractions for about 2-3 hours from 2am to about 5am.  Then I would finally feel totally exhausted, lay back down, and all signs of labor stopped.  This happened Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings, slightly varying in times.  It was very frustrating at the time, however I am now certain that those days were probably getting me dilated/effaced and ready for labor ahead of time, instead of putting me through it all in one long whack the way it happened with Jonah.  I went to a chiropractor Tuesday and Wednesday, and it felt so good to have a lot of neck, back, and hip pain go away.  I really wish I had been able to go to him during my second trimester when I was having a lot of strange nerve pain.  I walked 2 miles on Monday and Tuesday, and 3 miles on Wednesday.  My due date was Wednesday, and I was pretty bummed to have not had the baby yet.  A new friend of mine sent me the most encouraging text message that day:
"I was thinking of you and wanted to encourage you!  Your wait is soon over.  May the Lord bless you with peace, endurance, strength, and comfort.  He sees and knows and loves you dearly.  Him causing me to think of you and pray for you is that evidence.  Be blessed."
Wow.  I had not even consciously thought that God had forgotten me or stopped loving me, but her message really struck a cord in me, and brought tears to my eyes and so much hope and peace to my heart.

Thursday I just felt tired of trying, tired of false labor, and my feet were sore from walking, so we just hung out around the house and cleaned.  I was trying to rest in the fact that the baby would eventually come, and not get stressed that my doctor may try to push me to be induced if I went to far past my due date.

Friday morning I woke up about every hour from 3am onward with one big contraction and needing to use the restroom.  I'd get up, clutching my belly, go to the bathroom, then feel better and go back to bed.  At 7 am the contractions began for real, and were about 10 - 12 minutes apart.  This felt different than the other days because the contractions began to be closer together and some pain wrapped around my back.  I kept track of them and did other things for about 2 hours before deciding that this was really going to be the day, so I called our doula, Hannah, and told her.  She came over, and I actually felt bad because I realized the contractions were just not that difficult yet.  She was very sweet and encouraging, but she did not think I was going into real labor yet.  This was around 11 am, and I made us turkey wraps with hummus for lunch.  I was having contractions every 7-10 minutes, but was able to squat down and breathe, or stay standing and just sway, or put my hands on the counter and lean forward.  I was very calm and happy and pain free between contractions.  Hannah prayed over our food and for me and the labor and birth, and we ate turkey wraps.  After that, I realized I hadn't had any coffee yet.  Because we were both anticipating this going into the wee hours of the morning, and I didn't want to get a bad headache, I made us coffee.

Hannah is our doula.  If you are not familiar with that, you can read all about it here.  A doula is a birth coach.  She helps you to stay focused on having the type of labor and birth you want.  She is NOT trained or certified to deliver babies.  She made that very clear from the beginning, and neither one of us ever expected that she would have to make the big catch.  We met several times during my pregnancy to talk about what I was really wanting to do during labor this time, how I wanted it to be different from the last time, and things that I found helpful and relaxing.  So she knew for example already that I did not want to be talked to while I was having contractions, and that I love the smell of peppermint, and that words are very encouraging to me.  She came over with a huge bag of helpful supplies, a birthing ball, and bean bag.  She was totally prepared for a long day/night.

Hannah admitted later that she still wasn't sure if this was false labor or not.  John put Jonah down for a nap and she suggested we go walking to "try to get this going."  We put on coats and scarves and walked up and down the road for about half an hour.  The crisp fresh air, sunshine, and clear blue skies were so calming.  Walking felt really good. I would stop and squat down during contractions and then we'd continue walking and talking.  I have no idea why I did not go outside and walk around while I was in labor with Jonah.  It was May, beautiful weather, and I am sure that would have helped so much.  Walking was definitely speeding things up, and now between contractions my back was sore, and I felt a real heaviness in my belly.  We went home because I had to pee.  After sitting very uncomfortably on the toilet, contractions got harder and a little closer and I said I was ready to stay inside so I could get on my hands on knees for some of the harder contractions.

Hannah suggested we put on a movie to help keep my mind off of the discomfort and distracted.  John asked if he still had time to go help with baseball, if I minded, and I felt good and told him,
"Sure- go for it!"  He left around 1:45pm, and I was having contractions about 4 minutes apart.  I chose to watch a Tim Hawkins DVD (a Christian comedian), because Hannah had told me that smiling and laughing in labor was a very good thing.  However, I had a hard time enjoying the dvd because I kept having to pee and the contractions were getting harder.  I was on my knees with my elbows on our bed (our bed is very low to the ground), swaying my hips, sometimes laying my head down and breathing through contractions.  Hannah squeezed my hips on some of the contractions and that felt better.  She was so encouraging and kept saying,
"You're doing a great job. I am so proud of you."
I liked that and found it helpful.  She had brought an oil diffuser and knew that I liked peppermint, so she got that going in our bathroom and it made the bathroom and bedroom smell so good.  That was very relaxing and helpful.  I felt like it made it easier for me to take nice deep breaths in through my nose. I felt so peaceful.  I really credit this to the fact that many people had been praying for me.  I also think that in my mind I felt like I had at least 5 more hours to go, so I just wasn't stressed yet.  I had gotten plenty of sleep, I had energy, I felt good!  John and Hannah both have said many times that I just did not act like I was about to give birth.  It was painful, but I felt like it was still the beginning of the pain, and I was fully prepared for it to get much worse.  Although I didn't pull out my encouragement cards that day yet, because I was purposely saving them for the hospital - when I thought it would get really tough - I had been reading them almost every day prior to that.  I feel like these 3 in particular stayed on my mind and helped:

I was timing my contractions using a baby app on my phone, but I wasn't really looking at how far apart they were.  I think I just liked to push the start/stop button because it felt productive.  I had planned to go to the hospital when my contractions were about 3 minutes apart.  Here's what's funny - they never were.  I went straight from 4 minutes apart to 2 minutes and less.  Mentally, that did not register for me.  I think I was still just waiting to see 3.  Hannah looked over at the phone and must have noticed that they were getting closer and she said,
"I think you need to call your husband to come back, and call your mom about getting Jonah, and we need to head on to the hospital."  I agreed and called them both.  When I got off the phone with my mom I noticed contractions were getting a little harder to deal with, and I began a little moaning and actually had a few in sort of a yoga downward dog position.  I think after that was the first time I said, "Maybe I need to use the bathroom again."  Sitting on the toilet was so uncomfortable though, I gave up.  I hadn't used the big bathtub yet, and I had heard so many wonderful things about laboring in the bathtub, so I said,
"I just want to take a bath."  By this time John was back and poor Hannah was like,
"I really think we need to go to the hospital now."  They both looked at me, as I ran myself a bath, while having contractions.  In retrospect, I should have listened to Hannah and gone to the hospital as soon as John got home.  Hannah was like,
"Ok, maybe you can spend ten minutes in there."

Oh, but ladies, the bathtub was PHENOMENAL!  I think that was when I was in transition, and the warm water felt soooooo goo d.  I was in it less than ten minutes. Hannah made me get out and get dressed when I said,
"I think if I just poop, I'll feel a lot better."  This was actually the beginning of the urge to push - but since I had never felt that before, I just thought I needed to poop.  John got Jonah up from his nap and dressed.  We loaded up into the car.  Hannah was carrying the coat I had worn to walk in, and asked if I wanted to put it on, but I told her,
"No, but I'll sit on it just in case my water breaks."

We left the house and it was the middle of the stinking school zone about 5 minutes out on New Hope's Main Drive.  John had on his flashers and there wasn't hardly any traffic, but the policeman crossing guard stopped us anyway.  We're very familiar with police stopping us while I'm in labor.  However, this guy was trying to be the doctor,
"How far apart are her contractions?...I'll call you an ambulance...Pull over right here..."  It just made me SO mad because I still thought we could totally make it to the hospital.  Besides, there is no way an ambulance would have had an easy time getting all the way down Main Drive in little New Hope, and no way I wanted to have a baby in front of a school (Elementary, Middle, and High all right there) letting out.  John handled this a lot better than I would have if I was driving.  Honestly, I would have dragged the cop with his hand on my car window until he let go because that's how crazy-in-labor I was feeling.  John pleaded,
"PLEASE! We've done this before, just let us go!"  The cop finally did let us go after at least a 3-5 minute hold up with his hand in the car window, like holding us there.  Then, we were behind a school bus the rest of the way down Main Drive.  John was really mad about that and I kept saying, 
"Just pray!"

We turned onto the highway, and I had a really hard contraction and was yelling. John said, "Do I need to pull over and call 911?"  I said, 
"No." Then, my water broke after we passed Piggly Wiggly, and I said, 
"Yes.  Call 911, I think I need to push but I'm trying not to." John's voice started shaking as he talked and I knew he was freaked out.  He kept saying, 
"DON'T PUSH!" He arranged to meet the ambulance at the Jet Pep gas station in the middle of Owen's Cross Roads.  We pulled in and I asked John if he saw Hannah's car.  He did - she went right by us, had not seen us stop.  John was about to cry as he said, 
"She passed us!"  I called her and very urgently said, 
"Turn Around! Come Back! My water broke! We're not going to make it to the hospital! I need you to come back!  We're at the Jet Pep at the red light!" 
View from across the street
X Marks the Spot where we parked, just inside the parking lot

John was still on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, and I heard him say, 
"I can't see anything, she has pants on!"  John told us later that she had told him to look and see if he could see the baby's head.  When he told her I was wearing pants she said, 
"Sir, you're going to have to take her pants off."  John jokingly says he later thought, "That's how we got into this problem in the first place!"  He was shaking and pulling my pants off.  
We have a Honda Element - the boxy looking car. 

 I was in the front passenger seat, because Jonah was in the back behind the driver side, in his car seat, eating cheerios happily.  The new baby's car-seat was buckled into the other passenger seat.  I don't even know where my legs went when John opened that passenger door, but my behind was on the edge of my seat, hanging out into the open door area.  John said something bubbled out (more of my water breaking), and he almost threw up.  He was about to cry, when thank God, Hannah jumped out of her car. 

The volunteer fire department pulled in about the same time as Hannah, and it was a man who had graduated from High School with John, and his dad.  I don't remember them.  Hannah asked if we could go inside the gas station because it was rather cold and very windy and she said she didn't want the baby to get cold.  There was no way I could walk at that point.  We were barely pulled into the parking lot, and the door was at least 50 yards away. John knew I couldn't make it, and we both refused to even try.  She said, "OK then we need to turn up the heat and close the other doors and have blankets ready." The volunteer fire guys had blue gloves on and Hannah asked them, "Have you ever done this before?" They both very wide-eyed shook their heads and answered, 
"No."  Someone told me that one of them said, "I really don't want to start today!" I never heard that though, because I was mostly focused on Hannah and John.   Someone asked if I needed or wanted to lay down and I shook my head no.  Sitting upright was a great pushing position! Hannah (seeing that all the men looked terrified) said with confidence, 
"Well, I have been to a few births, so I guess I can do it.  Do you have any more gloves?"  She pulled on a pair and looked down and said, "OK, I can see her head, so this is going to happen.  You can do this." That was all I needed to hear because I had been panting so hard trying not to push up until that moment.  John and the men stood behind her or around her or something.

I yelled and pushed really hard once, maybe twice, and her head popped out.  I hollered and pushed really hard again and her little body came out.  John and Hannah both do not recall me yelling, and they both said that she seemed to fly out so fast.  Her tiny body was a little blue, and the cord was loosely wrapped around her neck once.  I was pulling my shirt up over my head while Hannah moved the cord quickly and put the baby straight on my chest.  John was so scared and said, "Why is she blue? Why isn't she crying?"  Hannah reassured him it was normal and rubbed her little back vigorously, like you rub a wet dog with a towel, and she started crying.  She was not nearly as nasty as you would think, I mean not covered in blood or anything.   A woman jumped in the car on the driver side with blankets and put them over the baby and I.  It was a very nice gesture, although they were covered in dog hair, as John was trying to find the baby blankets we had packed in our hospital bags in the trunk.  He brought me her little cute soft pink blanket and I put it closest to her body because I knew I had washed it, while trying to wipe off dog hair.  We kept rubbing her back to make her wake up and cry and breathe.  John found one of her hats and we put it on her to keep her head warm.  The volunteer guys wanted to cut the cord and Hannah told them they could not do that, we needed to wait until the ambulance got there.  She then made sure we closed all the car doors and kept the baby warm.  The baby started opening her mouth and rooting around, so I got her to breastfeed a little while we waited for the ambulance.  

Karis Emily was born at 3:15pm, in the Jet Pep parking lot.  Karis means Grace - and oh how we were given so much grace in her birth!
Ashlea Chance at Southern Made Photography met us at the hospital as we planned for her to try doing "Birth Photography."  Although we sort of botched the birth part, she got the first hour or so we were at the hospital.  More pictures soon!

The ambulance showed up at 3:27pm, and they moved me to a stretcher, leaving the baby on my chest for warmth. I clutched her and kept rubbing her back.  In the ambulance the man was very nice and kept giving the baby oxygen because although her body was very pink, her face still seemed a little blue.  She wanted to eat though, so he let me take off the little mask and feed her more.  I guess we got to the hospital around 4:00ish.  They said the blue on her face was actually bruising from being born so fast, her face must have hit my pelvic bone hard enough to bruise.  She weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces, the exact same as Jonah.  

She is 20 inches long, and has a perfectly round head.  Jonah was 21 and a half inches and had a cone head for a long time from being in the birth canal for so long with me pushing before I was ready. Feeling Karis exit my body was really a very incredible, not painful at all, type of physical sensation, of bones and muscles and water gushing out.  I did not feel that with Jonah, and I'm not sure if it's because I had a local anesthetic or if it's because he did come slower.  I know that it's a sensation I will never forget.  Because she was born so fast, she had a lot of bruising on her cheeks and nose the first two days of her life.  The bruising on her face contributed to jaundice, so she had to be under the phototherapy lights in between feedings for one last day.  That is why I was able to write most of this while still in the hospital.

I went to visit her in the nursery.
The kind nurses would bring her back to our room to nurse, and other than that she had to stay under the lights. 
I wanted an all natural, medication-free birth, and oh my, I got it! Karis was beautifully protected because my water broke right before she was born, and Hannah was there with more experience than any of us.  She had never caught a baby, and was very clear when we signed our contract that she does NOT catch or deliver babies.  This was totally my fault, because I just didn't think I was that close.  God protected us, and we are all safe and healthy.

Hannah was such a blessing to our family!  Even if we had made it to the hospital and delivered there, Hannah's encouragement before and during labor was invaluable.  She has also provided excellent postpartum support.  She stayed with us in the hospital for a few hours, and then came back the next day.  She brought a wealth of wisdom on breastfeeding and helped to correct a latch problem Karis was having (which caused a lot of pain, until Hannah showed us how to teach the baby to fix it).  She also brought a goody bag for me which included this lovely nursing support tea, and this natural sitz bath spray (that honestly works even better than the Americaine I got at the hospital), and some healing herbs from this company to make an herbal sitz bath at home that gave instant relief.  Then she came to visit us after we got home as well, bringing us dinner, helping play with Jonah for a little while, washing our dishes, and being encouraging.  She has been a fantastic help to us! This is her personal doula webpage and her facebook page.  I cannot say enough good things about this lady and her doula services!

I have to mention the irony of my dad telling me that I should keep an "emergency birth kit" in my car.  I was around 36 weeks pregnant and my dad kept telling me how huge I was, and said that he had seen on Dr. Oz that all pregnant women should keep an emergency kit with blankets, scissors, and other things in their car "just in case you have the baby in the car."  He told me this at least twice.  I specifically remember telling him,
"Dad, I'm not going to do that.  No one has a baby in a car.  That's just ridiculous."  Yes.  Yes it was a little ridiculous.  A beautiful, ridiculous, messy, awesome, blessed birth.  Here are more pictures of our hospital arrival.

Karis' facial bruising and puffiness went way down, and by the time we got home with her she was absolutely beautiful.  She seems to grow sweeter and prettier every day, and we are so thankful for her. Thank you to everyone who was praying for us. 
God heard you and decided to answer in a positive way! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

39 Weeks and Waiting...

I guess my babies just really like the whole "Wait exactly 40 weeks before coming out" process.  I thought Karis would be here - in our arms, not my belly - by now.  I'm not sure why I kind of thought she'd come early, but I did.   I was mostly wrong, apparently.

A random woman in Walmart who acted like she was the ultimate baby predictor around Christmas time guessed she'd be early too.
The conversation went like this -
Lady: "It's a girl!"
John: "Yes ma'am, the 3 packs of bows and pink clothes in our basket didn't help you at all."
Lady ignores him and turns to me: "I can tell you're getting close!"
Me, patting enormous belly, "Yep."
Lady: "What's your due date?"
Me: "January 15th."
Lady, intensely stares at my stomach, turns her head sideways, and pronounces, "You'll get close.  I think she'll come on the 9th or 10th, and I'm always right."
Not this time, sweetheart!

The due date is 5 days away now.  She could still come before then!  Jonah was born on his due date, which is rare enough, but having 2 kids born on due dates?! What!?  That would be super weird.   I like the idea of her birthday being 1-14-14 though, which would make her one day early, and have an easy to recall birthday.  At the doctor today she said I was 2 cm dilated and almost fully effaced, and she predicts the baby will come any day now.

For now we are in "nesting" mode while we wait.  I am trying to clear our bedroom and bathroom to make it a little labor sanctuary and also make it clean and welcoming for when we come home.  I've mostly given up on the rest of the house being cute and perfect, because it's just not all ours, and we don't know how long we'll stay.  You can only disrupt someone else's space so much before they may begin to hate you, although you cook meals for them and keep it relatively clean.  I am at peace with that now because I don't want my father-in-law to start to wish we weren't here, especially as we're about to add a crying baby to the mix.  He super loves hanging out and playing with Jonah though, so that is in our favor.  They bond over farming equipment and making stink-eye faces at each other.  Jonah knows more about tractors and combines than I do.  He can point to the auger and say "Auger." Don't feel bad if you don't know what that is, I only found out the other day.

Below is another super cute picture of him from our maternity photo shoot.  Please ignore the fact that what I like to refer to as "Salon Mommy" (me) evidently jacked up his hairline because he would Not be still even though I was letting him watch a Thomas video.  Part of me wants to fix this before we do the family newborn pictures, and part of me is worried I'll make it worse.  About 1% of me is interested in paying $15 for a haircut again and being worried they'll chop it too short and make him look goofy.

Waiting on this second baby is kind of like the way we are waiting on a ministry position.  Some days it gets frustrating, but we know that God's timing is better than our own.  Karis and a job will both come when they are ready for our family.   Honestly, it would have sucked to have had to move and change doctors and hospitals in the last 2 months, and especially this month.  We just got new insurance and I can now deliver at Crestwood!  I am so excited and thankful for that! I know we don't have a job right now, and it's probably better that way because we don't have to worry about taking days off, or preparing for subs, or filing paperwork.  Adding a new baby will be a huge change in Jonah's life, and having John be able to help right now is going to be wonderful!  So, while we wait for baby girl and we wait for a job, we are praying for faith and trust in God's plan.  My growing belly and our shrinking bank account are continuing to slowly refine us, humble us, and make us rely on God more than ever before.  The job waiting is harder than the baby waiting though.  What were times in your life when you had to really wait on God?  I could use some encouragement in this.   :)

I am attempting to read the "One Year Bible" this year as my daily devotion time because it's been several years since I read the entire Bible.  I really like the way this is laid out into 4 sections daily: Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and it puts them all in order for you so you don't have to flip a lot.  Two days ago, the New Testament reading was from Matthew 6:25-7:14.  I felt like God was again saying, "Don't worry.  I'm taking care of you.  Trust Me."  Maybe someone else needs to hear this too:

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

November/December Life and 37 Weeks

As we are on an unknown length of time sort of sabbatical, my husband John and I are learning about ways to wisely spend and fill our time rather than waste these days/weeks/months off.  Certainly we have had our share of days where we spend a lot of time playing with Jonah, and just doing general house work, which doesn't seem like much, but still finds us exhausted at the end of the day.  However, we haven't had internet until just a few weeks ago, so that cut out one way we both used to waste time at home.

We took a 3 week trip over to the Eastern side of the U.S. to sight see and visit with some great friends during September, which I am still trying to finish a post about.  That occupied much of the month of September. In October, November, and December, this is what we've been up to:

I've spent time hanging out and catching up with a few local friends.  I have helped John's sister in her second grade classroom a few days (which makes me reminisce and miss teaching a little).  I have been trying to set up this bachelor's pad to be more family-friendly and eye-appealing.  We're still a LONG way away from anything pinterest-worthy, but at least it's starting to feel more like home.  I have been doing typical mom jobs that way over-rated and always under-paid, like cooking, cleaning, laundry, and changing diapers.  I have been helping John job-hunt online for pastor positions and family ministry positions.  I have been playing with, reading to, feeding, and rocking our little Jonah as we realize his time as the only child is quickly drawing to a close.  I have joined a small group at our church and we are doing the Priscilla Shirer Bible study "Jonah: Navigating the Life Interrupted," which is spot on perfect for my life right now!  Not only am I absolutely convicted and learning in every single lesson, I am also getting to know some wonderful other ladies to whom I can talk with about life.  I have also finished re-reading through the "Narnia" series by C.S. Lewis that I hadn't read since I was in 5th grade, and had forgotten much.  It is such a great easy read for an adult, with such great content! Now I'm going back and skimming some of my labor and delivery books.

John has been spending time looking for jobs and learning a whole new trade.  Meet my husband, the carpenter!  He built these wooden shelves from wood his dad had laying around in a shed.  Together we painted them a darker blue than the picture shows, then I distressed and stained them with a brown glaze to give them the antique look.

After the grueling task of having no space to work in besides the driveway and the kitchen floor, John then decided it was time to transform his dad's garage into a carpentry studio.  He took it from looking like something off of the TV show "Hoarders" and has turned it into a rather lovely work-space!  He built one work bench and after a few days day decided it was way too small, and so about two days later he built a huge one with a big peg board back.

He built this book shelf for his mom for Christmas:

He built two of these garden planter benches:

He has been selling his Daniel Moore Alabama framed art in order to purchase a little menagerie of wood-working tools. He now has a table saw, a planer, a joiner, a Kreig jig, a skill saw, a miter saw, a jaw horse, a dust-collector (yeah - that's a tool), and several clamps.   He now has no more football art. This makes me sad. NOT! (I always hated trying to figure out the least-seen room in the house for him to hang those big things!) This actually makes me very happy for and proud of him.  My husband has never been crazy into video games, but his football watching and interest has bordered on addictive levels.  He has really pulled back from the sport this year, and finally sold his memorabilia.  This is a great step in maturity from my point of view.  I like the carpentry tools far more.  Plus, they are actually USEFUL and can accomplish things (instead of hanging on a wall commemorating some college kid finally catching a ball).  This carpentry hobby is actually pretty sexy. ;) Although, every time I hear one of those high powered machines in the garage, I earnestly pray for his calloused fingers that I love, and his brown eyes the color of perfect coffee. Please God, he needs those fingers and hands to change diapers, and we really do not need an emergency room bill right now.  His vision is so much better than mine, please let it stay that way!

John has also been working on doing discipleship and then baseball coaching with some of the high school baseball players as well. He has also joined a men's small group, and although he has to be at Dunkin' Donuts at 5:15 a.m., he is really enjoying that as well.  We have been going to The Church of the Valley, which meets in the Hollywood 18 movie theater, and we are really enjoying it.  John actually was blessed to be given the opportunity to preach a few days ago!  It went really well, and was appropriately about New Year's Resolutions (or the futility of making any), and true revival.

Jonah has been learning new words and language skills like crazy! In the last month he has really blossomed into a little chatterbox!  He can identify many of his favorite characters by name, so all of the "Thomas the Tank engine" cast are no longer simply "Choo choo" but now he knows Gordon "Gowdin," Percy "Peu See," and attempts Thomas "Ahma."  He also has a new preference for combines "Umbine" over tractors "Tah-tew."  He loves most of the Sesame Street characters as well, Elmo "Uhmo," Cookie Monster "Kee-Ko," Bert "Butt," and Ernie "Eenie,"  and even Grover "Govuh." My favorite words that he can now say are Jesus "Cheese-UH" and I love you "I Wuhw You."  Jonah's favorite word is "No." Here's a little snippet of both.  He thinks when he sees my phone he can say and sign "Again" to see a picture/video, so that is what he keeps saying and using his baby sign language for, while I am trying to convince him to say "I love you."

I love that little boy so much.  I am apprehensive about his big brother skills though. He is rough and tumble, 100% boy who loves noise, outside, and wrestling.  I am hoping and praying that having a little sister will help him to learn some things about being gentle.

Then we were blessed to be able to meet with Mrs. Ashlea Chance at Southern Made Photography again to take some maternity pictures at almost 37 weeks, and these are her sneak peeks:

I had a doctor's appointment a few days later and we learned that baby Karis is head down, weighed about 7 pounds, has sweet chubby cheeks and a head full of hair!  I am very happy about all of that.  Thank you God for answered prayers!  I am just measuring large because I am on the "Upper End of Normal" range for amniotic fluid, which is apparently nothing to worry about.  The Ultra-sound Tech said that "Normal" range is up to 21 or 22, and I am at 20, so when my water breaks, there will be no doubt! Haha!  These are her squished beauty shots:

In the realms of the job world, John actually has a pretty good looking lead right now.  A church near Anniston, AL sent him a super long questionnaire to fill out right before Christmas because he had made it to their "Top Ten" list for a "Youth and Families" position.  We are praying that if God wants us there He would make it crystal clear for the search committee and for us.  We are trusting that a ministry position will open up exactly when and where God wants us to serve.   Until then, we are building.  We are building our family and building wooden projects.